Let’s not sugar coat it; you’re going to need some downtime after your hair transplant. Considering the vast improvement your treatment will ultimately make to your appearance and sense of self, it’s only natural that it’ll take a little time before you feel 100 per cent presentable again.

It’s a temporary phase in a long-term solution

The prospect of downtime is one of the most frequently reported reasons for not getting a hair transplant sooner. My patients are always concerned about how long it’ll take before they can get away with their hair transplant not being noticed by friends, family, colleagues and the barman at the pub says Dr. Scott Alexander from Phoenix Arizona who is one of the leading hair transplant surgeons in the world today.

As a hair transplant patient, you have every right to feel concerned about this aspect of your treatment. After all, it can be very frustrating to want to look and feel the best you can, only to have to wait even longer for it to happen. My best advice is to consider the big picture of your hair transplant. Instant results are simply not part of the deal. Remember, your hair loss most likely occurred gradually over an extended period of time in which you probably progressed from slight concern to full-blown panic. The positive way to look at this is your emotions will be reversed and you have a bright future to look forward to. Each day post-op, you’ll feel happier about the way your hair looks and you’re likely to go from satisfaction through to full-blown elation. However, it will take time.

When trying to decide whether to go ahead with a hair transplant, you need to figure in your downtime as part of the big picture.

How long will my expected downtime be?

Well that depends on the size of the session you require and various other elements such as your skin tone. Some guys find they heal up in as short as ten days and without much visual evidence that surgery has taken place. On the other hand, some guys experience residual redness for longer periods of time, particularly if they have fair skin. Remember also that the site of the hair transplant has to be shaved down so the doctor has better precision and flexibility, so you’ll be starting almost from scratch with your natural hair growth in that area.

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Dr. Scott Alexander of biltmorehairrestoration.com

As a rough guide regarding the length of downtime, allow an absolute minimum of two to three weeks. However, if you keep your expectations out at around four to five weeks, particularly for larger strip sessions, then you’ll be happier about the eventual length of downtime that results.

How long you’re off work could be as simple as whether or not you can wear a hat to work. If you can, then you could be back within a few days, but if not, then you really must take into account the amount of downtime you’ll need, when scheduling your time off. I would say plan for at least two weeks, to be sure. If you can take longer, then do, because it’s better to allow a longer timeframe and not need it than to have to go back to work before you’re ready.

The long and short of preparing in advance

If you have longer hair, start wearing it in a style that will cover the transplant site so that later, when the site is healing, it’ll be no surprise to anyone that you are wearing your hair that way. Similarly, if you have shorter hair, go for a buzz cut so that as your hair grows in, it will seem like you actually need a haircut, not that you’re lacking hair. This is an especially good idea for FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) patients.

How to look and feel better during your downtime

There are things you can do to feel better about the way your transplant site looks and to speed things up so you can reduce your downtime. Do a little shopping before your hair transplant so you have all these items at home, ready to use. Of course, you can always purchase them online and have them delivered after your procedure if you’d rather limit your shopping expeditions.

  • Apply natural, soothing products to the treated areas. Aloe vera gel, emu oil and distilled witch hazel are all recommended.
  • MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is a naturally occurring organosulfur compound that works as an anti-inflammatory, promotes wound healing and assists in speeding up the growth of the existing hairs. Take 3000mg per day in a glass of water.
  • Wear a hat – or, if it suits you, a head scarf – to cover your transplant site when you leave the house.
  • Once your existing hair has grown enough you can use a concealer to help bulk it up and disguise any residual redness.

Treat yourself to a holiday

Why not spend the first week after your transplant at home where you can easily contact your doctor if you need to, but book a holiday for yourself and go away for the following three or four weeks? No one at your holiday destination will know how you usually look and plus, you can wear a hat without it looking conspicuous. Go fishing, climb a mountain, laze on a beach somewhere or backpack through Italy; just make it count. Imagine how incredible you’ll feel with your new head of hair and a rested and recharged outlook.