Hair Transplant Series: What Are The Risks Of Having A Hair Transplant?

A hair transplant is generally a safe surgical procedure that tens of thousands of men undergo annually.

Those that have been successfully under the knife include well known figures in the public eye, such as footballer Wayne Rooney and film star Bradley Cooper. 

However, despite its rising popularity, you still need to ensure that you do your research and find out as much as you can before undergoing the procedure.

A hair transplant is a cosmetic surgery that is meaningful enough to be carried out under local anaesthetic and sedation.

Furthermore, there are frequently horror stories of unlicensed or inexperienced surgeons performing botched operations, resulting in failed procedures and permanent scarring.   


If you are considering a hair transplant, it is important is to ensure you get the right advice and engage with a surgeon who is qualified and experienced in carrying out this type of surgery.

Be careful when searching the internet for clinics that offer hair transplants. There will be practices that pay to advertise their services on search listings but are not qualified to perform the operation.

The general guidance from the NHS is as follows;

    What is the recovery profile following a hair transplant?

    The operation itself should last no longer than a day, with no requirement to stay in hospital overnight. If the transplant area is particularly large, a surgeon may recommend two separate operations. 

    Following the surgery, you’ll likely feel pain or soreness at the transplant site as well as at the donor site, the area where hair was taken from.

    For a few days after the operation, the surgeon may prescribe medication for pain (e.g. ibuprofen), antibiotics to prevent infections, as well as anti-inflammatories to relieve swelling.

    Most people are able to return to work about 3 days after having a hair transplant. However, you have to be very careful with your transplanted hair for the first 2 weeks after your operation as the grafts will not be secure.

    Following the operation, the general surgical guidance is as follows;

    • After 2 to 5 days: Removal of bandages but avoid physical contact with the grafts
    • Day 6: Able to wash the hair gently by hand with mild shampoo only
    • After 10 to 14 days: Removal of any non-dissolvable stitches
    • After 21 days: Able to use a comb lightly

    In terms of results, after a few weeks, the transplanted hair should fall out. You should expect to see new hair appear after 6-months. The full results are usually visible after a year to eighteen months.

    It is important to note that the operation simply transfers hair from one part of the head to another. You are highly likely to continue to lose hair after the operation.

    In order to preserve the status quo, a surgeon may recommend medication such as Finasteride or Minoxidil to help preserve existing head hair and promote hair growth.

    You can purchase both scientifically-proven treatments here

    What can go wrong with a hair transplant?

    A hair transplant is generally a safe procedure, but as with all surgical procedures of a cosmetic nature, there's always a small risk of a complication. 

    Complications such as bleeding, infection, and an allergic reaction to the anaesthetic are problems that the surgeon should be able to treat quickly.

    Your surgeon should explain how likely these problems are and how they would be treated.

    There's also the risk that the transplant will fail and the transplanted hair falls out.

    This can happen for a number of reasons such as insufficient post-operative care or you not being an ideal candidate for a hair transplant int he first instance.

    Again, your surgeon should have the necessary expertise and qualifications so as to minimise the likelihood that this occurs.

    What should I do if I have any problems?

    If after the procedure you experience any unexpected symptoms or severe pain you should contact the clinic where you had your hair transplant as soon as possible .

    You should also contact the clinic if you're not happy with the results, or you think the procedure was not carried out properly.

    The NHS advises to contact the Care Quality Commission (CQC) if you have concerns about your care.

    If you feel that you need to , you can make a complaint about a doctor to the General Medical Council (GMC).


    This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

    Written by Dr. Mike Firth, GP and Medical Director

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