One thing is for sure. Hair transplants take a while to grow!
I can clearly remember when I was damn impatient for my hair transplant to grow. Well, to be completely honest I wasn’t impatient only.
It was quite an emotional journey. Fear and anxiety constantly lured on the corner. After all, I wanted to end up with the result that would meet my expectations. Everyone wants that, right?
I would look at the pictures of some random guy online who had significant hair growth from his FUE hair transplant at the 3 month mark. Meanwhile, I was looking obsessively at my scalp with no hair growth at all at the 3 month mark. There was a part of me already thinking that my hair transplant would fail.
Well, that part of me was pretty damn wrong. My hair growth just started later. In my case, it began to grow from the 5 month mark. At 10 months my result was pretty much final, and I was euphoric with my hair transplant. I had an impressive result. I couldn’t be happier. To this date I still am.
Looking back, perhaps I should have thrown out all mirrors in my house!
Everyone is different
On a serious note, the main lesson to take from this is that not everyone grows at the same pace after a hair transplant. Some people have very fast growth while others have slow growth.
Let us look at what happens when a graft gets transplanted into the recipient area.
A graft is nothing more than a piece of tissue that includes the hair follicle(s). So when these grafts get implanted into the recipient area the first thing the hair follicles will try to do is search for some blood supply. After all, during the transplantation process they are cut off from the blood supply. They do that by communicating with the surrounding tissue. It takes approximately 3 days before they start to regain their blood supply.
This whole process puts quite some stress on these lovely hair follicles. So what happens? Well some of them just go to sleep! The term for this is the telogen phase which is the “resting” phase of the hair follicle. Before they go into the telogen phase they go into catagen which is the “transition” phase. So the stress makes some of them (the amount will vary between people) go into catagen immediately followed by the telogen phase.
Hair transplants and shedding
So because a percentage of them go into the telogen phase, these hair shafts shed after the hair transplant. The hair shafts will fall from the skin and you can experience this typically 2-6 week after your hair transplant. Now some might people might have a whole lot of hair follicles that will go into the resting phase and some not as much. See how everyone is different?
Don’t be worried though! These hair follicles will eventually start to produce a hair shaft when they go from the telogen phase to the anagen (active) phase.
So typically for most people, the hair shafts will start to pop through the surface of the skin at 3 to 5 months after the operation date.
The funny thing is that they won’t all start to pop at the same time from the skin or grow at the same rate. All these hair follicles have their separate “time clock” built in. Quite amazing, huh?
The hair follicles will also be quite wispy and colorless when they first pop through the skin. They may also appear a bit curly in the beginning or have a bit of a different shape. As time passes by, they will mature and grow stronger and get darker until they finally completely mimic the characteristics of your donor hair.
Hair transplant timeline
Now because everyone will grow at a different rate the hair transplant growth timeline will be different for everyone. However, we can take a look at the average growth:
Now remember that this is a rough timeline. On average though this should be somewhat how the growth of a hair transplant develops. Don’t panic though if your hair transplant doesn’t follow this timeline.
Many people think that 6 months post operation day their hair transplant is done. But in almost every case the difference between 6 and 12 months will be significant visually.
After the 12 month mark there may still come some changes but in almost virtually everyone those changes will be minuscule. The hair structure might improve a tiny bit, but you won’t get any new hairs popping through your skin.
If your hair transplant hasn’t met your expectations at the 12 month mark something probably is wrong, or well your expectations were simply too high. Most hair transplant surgeons or clinics though will evaluate the final result at the 18 month mark, which is understandable.
In any case, as you can see from this hair transplant growth timeline the wait is pretty damn long.
Try not to look obsessively in the mirror too. I know growth is very exciting but “A watched pot never boils.” The changes daily will be not as significant as they will on a monthly basis.
The most important thing is to be patient! Eventually, these lovely hair follicles will pop through and grow stronger and stronger.
Perez-Meza D, Leavitt M, Mayer M. The growth factors. Part 1: clinical and histological evaluation of the wound healing and revascularization of the hair graft after hair transplant surgery. Hair Transplant Forum Int.2007;17:173–5.