Hair transplants have improved dramatically in recent years, as surgeons become more skilled and technology improves. However, there are occasional cases where a single hair transplant does not deliver the permanent solution that the patient desires.
Some surgeons may claim that they offer a one-stop solution, but the truth is that some folks have had multiple surgeries to maintain their look over time.
Today we’re looking into the phenomenon of repeat hair transplant procedures, figuring out how many surgeries an individual can withstand, and how they should make these key decisions.
Multiple Sessions May Be Needed
Let’s distinguish between sessions and surgeries.
It’s fairly common for surgeons to require more than one session to complete a single hair transplant procedure. That is not the same as having multiple surgeries.
While the majority of cases will only need one session to do the job, surgeons will not hesitate to tell you if additional ones are needed.
Whether you’ll require more than one transplant session will depend on a few factors:
- The number of individual grafts necessary
- The quality and density of the hair
- The methodology of the procedure
- The age and health condition of the client
- The experience level of the surgeon and the clinic
- Client preference and flexibility
- The sensitivity of the donor area (back of the head)
Since this is an aesthetic surgery, there are no two cases exactly alike.
While clients may express a desire to only undergo one session, it’s ultimately up to the surgeon and the clinical team to determine the best way forward.
The industry standard for grafts per session is around 2500, and this can take up nearly an entire day of surgery in some cases.
For the well-being of the client and the surgeon, it’s often recommended that any number over 2500 is broken up over two or more sessions.
Don’t be concerned if your surgeon tells you that you will need to spend the entire day at the clinic. It’s better to take the proper amount of time necessary to complete the process.
Why Aftercare and Recovery Matter
Whether your procedure takes a few hours or the entire day, proper post-operative care is crucial to prevent return trips in the future.
If you don’t know the basics about hair transplant recovery, here is a brief timeline:
- For the first 1-2 days, minimize movement, avoid driving, working, and ensure that the affected area is not disturbed with touching or rubbing of any kind.
- You can return to work after day three, but do not do any heavy lifting or engage in activity that may result in grafts being moved or impacted.
- Redness and irritation will usually reduce around 10 days post-op, and some of the natural scabbing will begin to fall off easily.
- Two weeks in, shedding of the transplanted hair may occur. This is a part of the natural process and clients will see those new follicles begin to grow again shortly after.
- One month into recovery, it’s accepted that all regular activities can resume.
- After a few months, hair growth in the area should be seen at a normal rate and the hair shafts will be thick enough to cut, style, and wear tighter-fitting headwear.
Surgeons will often give their clients a highly specific sheet of do’s and don’ts for this timeframe, along with a personalized regimen of medication to assist in optimal recovery.
Special shampoos, ointments, and antibacterials may be prescribed at this time, as well as other hair-growth formulas such as Minoxidil, which is a topical treatment meant to increase the level of blood flow to the affected area.
It’s vitally important that patients follow these instructions closely and immediately get in touch with the clinic if they suspect any unusual activity in the affected area.
Excessive bruising, inflammation, or infection is cause for concern, and there should be no hesitation to schedule a visit with the doctor if these happen.
Following the proper protocol isn’t just important for your own health and safety, but it can mean the difference between a successful overall transplant and a repeat surgery a year later.
Do I need another transplant?
While it’s not impossible for a surgeon to make mistakes during surgery, it is far more common that clients do not stick to the aftercare plan when it comes to requiring more procedures. There have been way too many hair transplants ruined by a lack of care during the recovery process, which is why that post-op regimen is so key. Accidentally uprooted grafted hair or allowing an infection from poor hygiene are just a couple of the mishaps that can be avoided.
If a client finds themselves dissatisfied with the results of the transplant for any reason, another hair transplant is possible at some point, but a complete recovery is a priority. Ethical and conscientious surgeons will not perform another hair transplant on a client until at least 10 to 12 months have passed since the prior procedure. The reason for this waiting stage is to ensure the protection of the new hair and minimize scarring in the donor area.
The final stages of post-op recovery are not visible to the human eye, taking place on a microscopic level. It is best to not take any chances and allow for complete healing. Even if the hair appears to be fully settled in and regrown, there is too much risk associated with repeat surgeries in the same area in that short span of time.
Beware of clinics that are eager to perform another surgery within less than a year of the first.
It is wise to wait for the full 12-month period to determine if more treatment will help.
Drawbacks of Repeat Procedures
We understand the desire for that perfect head of hair, but while transplants can be effective the first time, many clients push to go for round two within a few years.
Honest surgeons will state that there is a trend of diminishing returns on repeat surgeries, for a few reasons.
First of all, the donor area at the back of the head only has so much hair available to use for grafting. Typically, the original surgery utilizes the best hair for the job, so there is less of a guarantee that the grafted hair will grow as evenly or as strong.
Next, the recipient area, while fully healed, is not the same as it once was. Tiny scars still exist around the new follicle units, and doctors are hesitant to operate around these locations.
Finally, simply due to the passing of time, the naturally occurring process of male pattern balding may have accelerated, meaning some hair loss is beyond control.
Hair transplant surgery does not prevent the continued hair loss from genetics or other conditions.
It’s important to keep ongoing communication with the surgeon and determine whether it is truly worth the time and resources required to perform another transplant.
As long as they are spread at least one year apart, multiple hair transplants are generally safe, and happen more often than you may think.
However, patients should recognize that having the same surgery over and over may not reap the benefits of the initial transplant.
Recognizing the limitations of the human body and the realities of the surgical process is key to making the best choice to end up happy with your new hair.