Does a Hair Transplant Hurt?

One of the questions most frequently asked by people considering hair transplant surgery is “does a hair transplant hurt?” Many surgeons will hasten to say that hair transplants don’t hurt a bit, but this isn’t entirely true. A hair transplant is real surgery, and as such may involve a certain amount of discomfort, even if it is, as many people who have had hair transplants say, only as uncomfortable as a normal trip to the dentist. To understand what causes the discomfort it is important for people considering hair transplant surgery to understand what exactly the surgery involves, and what they should expect to happen before, during and after their surgery.

In order to perform hair transplant surgery, a surgeon removes hair from an area of the head where it grows naturally, called the donor site, and implants it into a bald area of the head, called the recipient site. After a span of several months new hair will grow back in both the recipient site and the donor site, leaving the patient with a full head of hair. The procedure generally can take from three to ten hours to complete. Most patients receive both a sedative and shots of anesthesia into the scalp before the procedure, so that the surgery itself is pain free. In fact, many patients point to the shots of anesthesia as the most painful part of the entire procedure. For those who are particularly sensitive t pain or who are nervous about needles, a numbing spray can sometimes be applied to the scalp to make the injections less painful.

Other than the quick twinges of pain many people experience while receiving the initial shots into the scalp, most people experience a certain amount of soreness or discomfort while they are still recovering from surgery. The most noticeable side effect is often numbness in the scalp, which can often last for several weeks to months after the procedure, or until the scalp is completely healed. There can also be swelling or soreness for the first day or so after the surgery. Most surgeons advise that their patients rest at home for the first two days after surgery and apply ice packs to their heads as needed to reduce any swelling. Hair transplant surgeons will generally also provide pain killers for their patients to take in the first few days of recovery, though many people who have had the surgery find that they don’t need to take them, and the staying at home and out of the sun and avoiding touching the surgical site for the first day or so is enough to prevent most discomfort from occurring.