Are Hair Transplants Painful?

Dentists, orthodontists, chiropractors, and other medical professionals understand the many concerns that patients may have. One of the biggest concerns is pain. This is also true for hair transplant patients.  The good news is that a hair transplant isn’t a painful procedure. The patient should be prepared for some discomfort, however. Even the simplest medical procedures will have some degree of discomfort, and a hair transplant is no exception. Luckily the discomfort or pain is brief and temporary with this procedure. Most patients will report nearly no pain and most describe the experience as a very easy and somewhat pleasant experience. As a hair transplant doctor, will tell you, the procedure is minimally invasive, patients should still understand the specifics of the surgery and what they will feel before, during, and after surgery.

The only actual discomfort a patient will feel during the hair transplant procedure actually involves the numbing medication. Once the scalp becomes numb, the patient will feel nothing during the entire procedure. The numbing of the scalp is done in two parts. The surgeon will numb the donor area where the grafts will be taken from; and then will numb the recipient area where the new grafts will be implanted. The numbing in the donor area happens before the surgery itself really begins. The first thing the surgeon will do is numb the donor area. Using a local anesthetic, the doctor will inject small amounts of the medication across the entire region. The injections are done with a very fine needle and are very quick. Because of the tiny needle, pain is minimal. Most patients report only a slight “pinching” sensation quickly followed by numbness as the medication takes effect. It usually takes only 10-15 minutes for the numbing medication

to take full effect and most patients report feeling numb within a few minutes. After this, nothing else is felt in the donor region. The doctor can extract the tissue with no pain for the patient. The numbing medication typically lasts for 3 hours and can be periodically touched-up throughout the procedure. Just like in the donor region, the recipient region must be numbed before the physician begins to make incisions and placing the grafts back into the scalp. This process is identical to the donor numbing. The numbing injections in the recipient region is the last thing the patient will feel the entire day. After this, the entire scalp will be completely numb. If the patient does start to sense pain, he or she will let the staff know and the doctor will inject more numbing medication.

After surgery, patients report little to no discomfort. The doctor will re-administer the numbing medication after surgery is finished. In most cases the patient will have approximately 3 hours of numbness. The patient can use these 3 hours to get back to where they are staying, get settled, and begin the post-surgery pain medications. It’s a good plan for the patient to build up some pain medication in their system before the numbing wears off. If the patient does this, they should transition nicely and feel no discomfort. They will then take the pain medications as instructed the night of surgery, and go to bed pain free. By the next day the potential for pain is greatly reduced. The vast majority of patients report feeling no pain and do not need any sort of pain medication the day after surgery. If there is any discomfort, tylenol can be utilized.

Thanks to local anesthesia and post-operative pain medications, a hair transplant is not painful. While any surgery will likely have some temporary discomfort, a hair transplant is typically a pleasant and easy experience for most patients.