If it’s your first time getting a natural hair transplant, you probably have a fair share of questions running circles in your mind. “How long will it take? How should I prepare for the procedure? What should I expect in terms of aftercare requirements?” And, of course, the inevitable, dreaded question: “How much will it hurt?!”
We understand that going into any surgical or cosmetic procedure, especially if it’s your first one, can lead to anxiety about potentially feeling pain or discomfort. Although they are minimally invasive, natural hair transplants and hair restoration are considered surgical procedures. The term “surgical” may instill some fear in patients, given its association with painful recoveries and slow healing, but luckily, we can offer you some reassurance. Natural hair transplants and their recovery periods are anything but slow and painful!
Most of our patients have reported that natural hair restoration isn’t painful. There is, however, some mild discomfort that some patients experience after the procedure. This is completely normal — as it would be for any cosmetic or surgical procedure — and lasts a few days after the transplant is finished. Tenderness, swelling, and redness are commonly experienced for a few days afterwards, and some patients may need to take pain or anti-inflammatory medicine to manage any discomfort.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about why some irritation occurs after natural hair restoration, and what kind of steps you can take to minimize any discomfort that may occur. But first, to truly know what sensations you might undergo during natural hair restoration, it helps to understand the details behind what happens when you get a hair transplant.
The First Step of a Hair Transplant: Local Anesthesia
Whether you’re undergoing an FUT (Follicular Unit Transfer) or an FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction), each is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that requires the use of local anesthesia. As a result, any pain that would typically occur during the procedure is numbed out while it’s happening. True sensations occur only after the surgery is complete and once the anesthesia wears off.
Local anesthesia is the same kind of numbing medication a dentist would put into your gums before filling a cavity. The anesthesia is injected into the portions of your scalp that will be worked on and are done quickly with a very fine needle. There is some pain associated with the injection, but it’s very brief, since the numbing medicine starts to work quickly.
About 10 to 15 minutes after receiving the injection, you’ll start to feel the numbness over your entire scalp. There will be no more feeling after this until after the anesthesia wears off. It typically lasts for a few hours after the surgery, but we’ll make sure to keep it updated steadily during the procedure so you never feel any pain throughout it.
Patients aren’t sedated during natural hair transplants. That means you will be awake and able to feel some sensations, even though the scalp will be numbed. The anesthesia will numb any feelings of outright pain, but you will likely notice feelings such as pulling or tugging throughout the procedure. This is completely normal. If it does begin to feel painful, however, flag it with us and we’ll be sure to adjust your anesthesia levels to make sure you’re 100% comfortable.
FUTs: What To Expect
Thanks to their seamless results and their high postoperative growth rates, we consider FUTs the gold standard of hair transplant techniques. FUT is accomplished by removing a strip of tissue from the back of the head, where hair is thicker, and implanted into spots with thinning hair. This is done in order to put healthy hair follicles (or grafts) that produce hair in areas where hair is sparsely produced. The result is a fuller, thicker, and more natural-looking head of hair.
In an FUT procedure, local anesthesia is applied to both the donor area (the spot where the strip of tissue will be removed) and the area it will be transplanted into. FUT procedures leave a small scar on the back of the scalp where the donor tissue is removed, but as far as pain goes, most patients don’t report this minor scarring as an issue.
Commonly, FUT patients describe some mild discomfort on the first night after their procedure, but it’s easily controlled with pain medication. Most patients wake up feeling great and can return to work in only a few days after their surgery.
FUEs: What To Expect
Like in an FUT, an FUE consists of donor grafts being removed from the back of the scalp and inserted into the areas where hair is thinning. However, it’s done in a slightly different manner. Instead of removing a strip from the back of the scalp, the grafts are extracted using tiny skin punches that are less than 1 millimeter in diameter. It’s an extremely precise process — each graft needed for the transplant is individually extracted. Local anesthesia is always applied to the area where the donor grafts come from, as well as the site where they will be transplanted.
FUEs are popular not only because they don’t leave a linear scar like FUTs do, but also because they’re able to restore hair’s density and reshape hairlines. What’s more, FUEs give patients more flexible hair styling options in the future.
FUEs offer minimal discomfort, given that they don’t involve taking large amounts of tissue and stapling or sewing the remaining skin back together. The tiny holes created during extraction are so small that they heal on their own, typically within 7-10 days after the procedure. Some minor irritation will occur when the scabs heal, but this can be easily regulated with pain medication.
Post-Surgery Pain Management
A certain level of aftercare is required to keep pain at bay after your hair transplant. After all, your scalp tissues have been subjected to some trauma, but mild painkillers will do just the trick for managing any discomfort or irritation you feel as a result of this. Furthermore, your recovery is based on a variety of factors, including your medical history and own pain tolerance levels. However, the majority of FUT and FUE patients acknowledge there is very little pain and only mild discomfort associated with the healing process post-surgery.
We recommend avoiding work and high-pressure or very physical tasks within the first 48 hours of your procedure, whether it was an FUT or FUE. Exercising is also not recommended for the first two weeks of the healing process so as not to exacerbate any irritation.
There will be some visible redness and swelling during the first few days post-surgery. With an FUT, the donor areas may take slightly longer to heal than it would after an FUE procedure.
While getting over nervousness and anxiety of undergoing a surgical procedure, a natural hair transplant is an investment in yourself. Most patients say the mild discomfort is a small price to pay for a boost in self-esteem and identity!
For more information on how Look Natural Hair Restoration can help you reach your hair goals, get in touch online or feel free to call us at (855) 802-4247.