As hair transplant technology advances, more and more men are looking into options for improving their facial hair growth. A beard transplant is an extremely effective procedure that allows men who have difficulty growing a beard to fill in patchy areas or create a permanent facial hair pattern using transplanted hairs. This procedure is perfect for men who struggle to grow facial hair, for covering up scars or burns, or as part of a gender affirmation journey.
If you’re interested in getting a beard transplant, then you might be wondering what to expect at each stage of the procedure, especially the recovery period. It’s normal to be a little bit nervous about any surgical procedure, even with a low-risk surgery like hair transplantation.
The good news about beard transplants is that the recovery period is usually very quick and involves very little discomfort. Most men who choose to undergo beard restoration are back to their normal activities in a matter of days. Here’s everything you need to know about recovering from a beard transplant and getting back to normal life.
Beard Restoration: An Outpatient Procedure
Good news for men who want to enhance their facial hair: beard transplants are generally outpatient procedures. This means that you won’t need to stay overnight in a surgical center or hospital. Someone can drive you home so you can rest comfortably.
Outpatient procedures are usually less invasive and involve fewer risks than inpatient surgeries. Since beard transplants are very safe when performed by an experienced surgeon, patients don’t need to remain under observation for very long after the procedure has been completed.
How Beard Transplant Techniques Affect Recovery
The technique your hair transplant surgeon uses will affect your recovery progression quite significantly. There are two main hair transplant techniques, known as the FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) and the FUT/FUG (Follicular Unit Transplantation/Follicular Unit Grafting).
These two techniques describe the methods a surgeon can use to harvest hair from the donor area, which is typically the back of the scalp. It’s important to note that once the hair follicles have been extracted from the donor area, they are placed using a universal method.
After the follicles are removed from the scalp, the surgeon creates minuscule incisions in the areas where new hair growth is desired. The hair follicles are placed at the correct angles for natural-looking growth. Once the follicles are settled into their new location, they will function as normal and fill in the patient’s beard over time.
FUE Transplant Method
FUE transplantation is currently the gold standard for both hair and beard transplants. It’s less invasive than the older FUT method and involves removing small groups of hair follicles from the scalp individually. Most surgeons use a “punch” tool to smoothly extract each follicle group.
Using the FUE method, patients can achieve their goals with almost no visible scarring. The extraction process results in a series of tiny, circular scars that can usually be covered by even short hairstyles.
Recovery from an FUE hair transplant is very easy. Most people can get back to the majority of their everyday activities shortly after the procedure. Because the incisions are so tiny, they heal extremely quickly and cause very little discomfort.
FUT (“Strip”) Transplant Method
FUT surgery is the more traditional method, but it has fallen out of favor in recent years as the newer FUE technique has taken over. During a FUT procedure, the surgeon removes a single strip of hair and skin from the back of the scalp. This strip of tissue contains a large number of hair follicles, which can then be separated and used to restore the facial hair.
The biggest drawback of the FUT technique, which is why it has become less popular than FUE, is the large scar it produces on the back of the scalp. Men who get a FUT transplant end up with a long, thin scar that usually requires a longer hairstyle to hide.
Although it is now less common than the FUE technique, FUT still has its place. It may be appropriate for men seeking a full beard and needing a large number of grafts. FUT is still usually the best choice for high-volume transplants.
Recovery after FUT is longer than for FUE procedures. Sutures will be placed during the procedure, which must be removed after about 10 days (unless the surgeon uses dissolving stitches). Activities may be restricted for the first few weeks as the incision heals.
Anesthesia and Recovery
Most hair transplant procedures, including beard transplants, do not require general anesthesia. Patients are typically given local anesthesia in both the donor and recipient area to eliminate pain, along with sedation to keep them calm and comfortable during the entire procedure.
General anesthesia is unnecessary for hair transplants and involves some risks. Patients are fully asleep and must have a breathing tube placed for the duration of the procedure. After surgery, they are very groggy and need additional time to recover.
Although some patients are nervous about being “awake” for the surgery, local anesthesia and sedation are safer overall and make the recovery much easier. Your surgeon will go over the entire process with you and set your mind at ease prior to scheduling your surgery.
It’s important to note that although local anesthesia is safer than general anesthesia, that doesn’t mean patients can safely drive themselves home after their procedure. It’s crucial to arrange for someone to give you a ride home from your surgery as you may be groggy from the sedation and any pain medication.
Caring for the Donor and Recipient Areas
After surgery, both your scalp and your face will require special care. The most important thing is to just leave the area alone for the first few days. That can be easier said than done—you might notice crusting, dried blood, and the area might itch as it heals.
Scratching is obviously a no-no, but you should also avoid touching your face and getting it wet for the first five days. After that, it’s okay to gently cleanse the area with soap and water. If you find that you have trouble leaving the area alone or find that it’s itching a lot, ask your surgeon for advice—they might be able to help.
Beard Transplant Recovery Day By Day
Everyone’s experience with beard transplant recovery is different, but most people hit their standard recovery milestones at around the same time. Here’s roughly what you can expect during each phase of your recovery.
Recovery Phase 1: Immediately After Surgery
You might feel groggy from the sedatives and should not drive yourself home after you are cleared by the surgical team. Antibiotic ointment will be applied to the donor area to help it heal and to prevent infection. At this stage, it’s very important to avoid touching your face and getting it wet.
It’s important to rest immediately after the procedure. Take it easy and give your body a chance to recover. Take medication if needed to manage any pain or discomfort.
Recovery Phase 2: The First Few Days
You will likely start to feel better after the first couple of days, although your beard area might itch. You might start to notice little crusts forming around the transplanted hairs. This indicates that healing is taking place.
You should still avoid getting your face wet and take it easy. Avoid strenuous activities, bending, lifting, and anything that might make you sweat.
Recovery Phase 3: The First Two Weeks
After 5 days, you can finally wash your face with soap and water. Be very gentle and do not use water that is too hot or too cold. Pat your skin dry; don’t rub the grafts.
By the end of 7 days, all the crusting should be gone. You are permitted to shave after 10 days and should be mostly healed by this point. If you have a linear scar from a FUT procedure, your stitches will be removed at this time.
Recovery Phase 4: Waiting For Results
After about two weeks, the transplanted hairs will start to fall out. This is normal! The follicles are experiencing shock and will go dormant for a while.
At this point, it’s just a waiting game. You will need to be patient for a while as you wait for the transplanted follicles to begin growing hair once again.
Growing Your Hair Back After Beard Transplant
Lots of men who get beard transplants must have part or all of their heads shaved before the grafts can be extracted. Depending on how you normally wear your hair, this can take a lot of patience! However, shaving the hair prior to the procedure generally makes the extraction process easier and more efficient.
Don’t be too hard on yourself as you wait for your hair to grow back (and it will!). Remember, you’re investing in yourself with a beard transplant. Shaving your hair is probably a small price to pay for confidence-boosting results.
New Beard Growth: What Can You Expect?
Some men are surprised to learn that their grafted hair will fall out initially. It can be another test of patience to wait for the results of a beard transplant, but rest assured that once your hair starts to regrow in the beard area, it should continue to do so permanently.
Most people start to see new beard growth after a couple of months. By six months, the hair should be actively growing. After a year, you should be seeing the full results.
When beard transplant hair starts to grow, you can groom and style it any way you want. Even though the hair taken from the scalp is a slightly different color and texture, the results should still look extremely natural. Once you get past the long growth phase, you are likely to be thrilled with your results.
Tips for Recovery
A smooth recovery is crucial for a successful beard transplant procedure. Your grafts will have the highest chance of success if you prepare for recovery and take steps to ensure that you heal properly. Graft failure can mean poor results and the loss of viable hair follicles.
Take your recovery seriously. You don’t want to compromise your results after going through the process of choosing a great surgeon, paying for the procedure, and going through the surgery itself. Here are some tips to help maximize your results and reduce the risk of complications.
1. Take some time off from work
Beard transplants are minimally invasive, especially with the FUE technique. You might think that you don’t really need to take any time off for your procedure and you can jump right back into work, especially if you work from home.
Although you don’t need to take weeks off from work for healing, it is important to give yourself a chance to rest and relax. Keeping your stress levels low during the first few days after the procedure will help you stay comfortable during your recovery and might help you heal more quickly.
If you can, take a week off after your surgery, or as much time as recommended by your surgeon. Generally, any small incisions from FUE should be healed within about 5 days. You might be able to get away with only taking a couple of days off, especially if you have a desk job, but there’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a little extra time to heal.
If you need a FUT transplant, you’ll probably want to take a week or two off. Your stitches will be removed at about the 10-day mark.
2. Prepare for your recovery
You have the ability to plan your procedure and recovery, so make the most of it! Set up a comfortable chair at home with the remote nearby so you can recover in peace. If you have pets or kids at home, make arrangements for a family member or friend to take over the household chores for a couple of days, or even hire some help if you need to.
Make sure to run any important errands before the day of your surgery. The last thing you want to think about is running to the bank or pharmacy when you’re recovering! Get all your bills paid and any prescriptions filled in advance so you can relax.
3. No touching!
It’s very important to avoid touching your face during the first few days of the recovery process except as instructed by your surgeon. The grafts will be very sensitive at this time and touching the treated area will only introduce bacteria and create opportunities for infection. Touching your face can also result in graft failure.
4. Fuel your body
You want to make sure you have your fridge stocked with healthy food options during your recovery. Although it might be very tempting to treat yourself with takeout or junk food when you’re not feeling up to cooking, these food choices definitely won’t help you get better more quickly.
Instead of high-fat and high-sodium food from your favorite restaurant, think about what your body needs instead. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.
It can be a good idea to prepare some meals and snacks in advance. Hair transplant procedures can take a long time, and you’re not going to feel like doing much beyond picking up the phone to order a pizza when you get home. Set yourself up for success by having some premade, healthy meals ready to go.
Just as it’s important to fuel your body with healthy food during your recovery, it’s also important to hydrate as much as possible. Aim for at least 8 glasses a day, although you might need even more.
Drinking lots of water will help you feel better and recover more quickly. Stay away from sugary drinks, as these won’t be as hydrating or help you feel better.
6. Be on your best behavior
If you were a smoker before your surgery, you were probably told to quit at least a couple of weeks before your procedure. Once you’re in recovery though, that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. You will need to stay smoke-free for at least several more weeks until you’re fully healed.
Nicotine and other chemicals found in cigarettes have a negative impact on healing and can make complications more likely. You don’t want to risk the success of your grafts for a cigarette! Consider that this might be a great time to kick the habit for good and celebrate your smoke-free life with your new beard.
You should also avoid alcohol for about two weeks after the surgery. Alcohol can thin your blood and make excessive bleeding more likely. It might feel good to have a beer after your surgery, but it’s also likely to extend your recovery and interfere with healing.
Just have a little patience and be on your best behavior during your recovery. It’ll all be worth it in the end!
7. Avoid sweating
Strenuous exercise is usually a no-no after surgery. This is because exercise increases your heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to bleeding, excessive swelling, and other complications, like an incision opening up.
After a beard transplant, you probably won’t have large incisions to worry about unless you had a rare FUT surgery. But you still might experience issues like swelling and bleeding or generate more sweat, which could lead to issues like folliculitis.
Now, that’s not to say you should sit around for weeks in the interest of recovery. Light activity, like walking, is highly recommended.
Most men heal quickly from the beard restoration procedure, so ask your surgeon when it’s safe to hit the gym again. Usually, you can get back to more vigorous exercise after about two weeks. For FUT transplants, you might need to wait longer.
8. Take medications as directed
The great news about beard transplants is that the procedure usually doesn’t involve any large incisions. You might experience some discomfort during the first couple of days, including minor pain and itching, but it’s probably not going to be bad enough to warrant prescription pain medication.
If your doctor prescribes pain medication, take it only as directed. If they suggest over-the-counter pain relievers instead, be sure to get specific instructions on when to take them and how much to take. The goal is pain management, but you’re not likely to experience much more than soreness for a few days to a week with an FUE procedure.
9. Dress comfortably—but skip the pullovers
The areas of your face containing the new hair grafts will be extremely sensitive during the first week. Each hair is painstakingly placed to create a natural-looking result, but the follicles won’t be settled into their new location right away. You need to protect the grafted hairs, which might mean making some temporary changes to your wardrobe.
During the first few days after your procedure, you’ll want to dress as comfortably as possible. Staying relaxed as you recover is key. However, you will also want to avoid any pullover-style shirts that might tug on the grafts as you put them on.
T-shirts, sweatshirts, and sweaters are all super comfy. But they could also compromise your results. Try button-up or zip-up shirts while your incisions heal to prevent complications.
10. Keep your face dry and skip anything steamy
It’s important not to get your face wet for the first 5 days after your procedure. During this time, you’ll notice that small crusts form around the transplanted follicles. While it’s tempting to wash these off, you need to be patient!
After 5 days, you can gently wash your face with soap and water. During the initial recovery period, you should also avoid hot tubs, sauna, and anything else that might produce steam or make you sweat. You also shouldn’t go swimming until your doctor says it’s okay to do so.
11. Sleep on your back
Initially, you might have to change your sleeping position in the interest of your facial hair. During the first few days, it’s a good idea to sleep on your back while your face heals. You don’t want to put pressure on the grafts by sleeping on your side.
A simple way to help ensure that you don’t turn over in your sleep is to set up a recliner as your bed. Sleeping with your head elevated can help to reduce facial swelling after hair transplant surgery, and you’ll be less likely to disturb your healing hair grafts. This can be an inconvenience if you’re normally a side sleeper, but it’s worth it.
12. Set your expectations
Don’t expect to see a full beard sprouting after just a few days. While you can shave 10 days after your procedure, that doesn’t mean there will be much to shave yet. The follicles will go into “shock” and will become dormant for a while.
Have realistic expectations going into your procedure and the recovery. Understand that patience is required before you’ll see the full results of your surgery. Your surgeon can help you set expectations during the consultation.
13. Don’t wait to report complications
Although complications are rare during recovery from a beard transplant, you don’t want to wait to get help if you notice signs of trouble. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your plastic surgeon if you’re noticing symptoms of a problem or if you’re scared that something isn’t normal. It’s better to ask too many questions than to let a problem get worse and compromise your safety or results.
14. Attend your follow-up visits
Even if you feel great and you’re enthusiastic about how you’ll look when your hair grows out, it’s still important to attend all of your follow-up visits with your surgeon. You need an expert’s opinion on how you’re healing and it’s a great opportunity to ask any more questions you may have.
15. Ask questions
Speaking of having questions—ask them!
Don’t understand some of your aftercare instructions? Not sure if your discomfort is normal or could be an early sign of trouble? Ask!
Your surgeon is the expert and they would rather you ask questions than make assumptions. Go to your consultation and follow-up visits with a list of questions. Call and ask the office if you need to—the staff will either answer your questions immediately or ask the doctor for you.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions. It’s always better to ask if you’re unsure about something. Remember, your surgeon went to school for years so they could fully understand hair transplantation, the recovery process, and the results!
16. Follow ALL instructions provided by your surgeon
The most important tip for a smooth recovery is to follow all the pre-and post-operative instructions provided by your facial hair restoration surgeon, even if they seem insignificant or inconvenient. Your surgeon is the expert, after all!
Following all these instructions will help set you up for success after your surgery. Not only will you get better results from your procedure, but you are likely to feel better throughout the recovery process.
Choosing The Right Beard Transplant Surgeon: The First Step Toward a Safe and Smooth Recovery
If there’s one thing you can do to prevent complications and have a comfortable, successful recovery, it’s choosing the right hair transplant surgeon. Beard transplants are relatively new and they require a high level of skill, experience, and finesse.
One of the trickiest aspects of finding the right facial hair restoration surgeon for you is finding a qualified doctor with experience. While there are many hair transplant experts out there, few of them have experience in creating natural-looking beards for patients.
In addition to experience, it’s important to choose a doctor who makes you feel comfortable and at ease. You should be able to ask questions and get personalized recommendations during your consultation to help ensure you get the best results possible.
Start by looking for an experienced beard transplant surgeon. Then, take a look at the surgeon’s before-and-after photos to make sure the results are in line with your expectations. Take a look at patient reviews as well.
Finding the right surgeon can take some time and effort. However, it’s absolutely worth every minute you put into the research. A skilled surgeon can reduce surgical risks, ensure that you end up with an attractive, healthy beard, and have a positive beard transplant experience.
Frequently Asked Questions about Beard Transplant Recovery
Most people can get back to work a few days after an FUE transplant unless they have a strenuous job. Healing should be complete by the 10-14 day mark. Keep in mind that beard transplant recovery time varies from person to person.
It is usually safe to shave 10 days after surgery. However, if you had very little facial hair to begin with, you may not have much to shave by this point. New hair growth can take several months to begin.
Most patients are able to reach their facial hair restoration goals in just one transplant session. Sessions can last from about 2-8 hours on average, depending on the number of grafts required. Obviously, patients who just want to fill in patchy areas or cover a scar will need fewer grafts than someone who wants a full beard.
For some patients who need lots of grafts to achieve their goals, a second procedure might rarely be needed. This is why it’s so important to be upfront with prospective surgeons about your expectations and hopes for the procedure. They can determine if what you want is realistic, given the amount of donor hair you have available.
Occasionally, some patients choose to have a second procedure later on to create more fullness or a new facial hair pattern. Your surgeon can estimate the number of grafts needed to reach your goals.
If you have an FUE procedure, the recovery should be pretty similar regardless of the number of grafts needed. You will have more tiny incisions, but this should not significantly change your recovery experience.
If you need enough grafts to justify a FUT procedure, however, that might be a different story. Because a FUT hair transplant requires a long incision, the recovery process is more intensive. Most people need a week or two to heal, instead of the few days needed after an FUE beard transplant procedure.
You should ask your surgeon for guidance on when it is safe to resume strenuous exercise or go back to the gym. While it’s a good idea to resume light activity quickly to help assist with healing, lifting weights or going for a run could compromise your recovery.
Beard transplant recovery time varies, but most FUE patients can start resuming exercise about two weeks after the procedure. FUT patients might need to wait several more weeks before it’s safe to do so. Always check in with your surgeon before you go back to the gym or start any exercise that’s more strenuous than walking.
The incisions made for an FUE hair transplant are extremely tiny. In the face, they are usually less than a millimeter long. The small “punch” wounds required to extract the hairs are also barely noticeable. You may experience some soreness and minor discomfort after your procedure, but most patients don’t find the recovery to be overly painful. You should expect any soreness to disappear within a week or so. Again, the FUT procedure is overall more painful because the incision at the donor site is so much larger. You might need more pain management after a FUT hair transplant. Talk to your surgeon about your options for pain management after your procedure. They might prescribe pain medication, just in case, or give you suggestions for managing your discomfort with home remedies and over-the-counter painkillers.
For FUE procedures, the beard transplant hair donor area recovery takes about 5 days. For FUT procedures, stitches are removed at 10 days and final healing can take a few weeks.
You will probably need to stop taking certain supplements for a few weeks before and after your procedure. Some medications and natural supplements can cause excess bleeding or other issues. After your surgery, you may need to continue avoiding supplements like vitamin E until you have healed. Be sure to let your surgeon know about any supplements and medications you take regularly during the consultation. They can give you a list of what to avoid. You might also discuss some alternative options for certain medications or supplements that you can safely take during your recovery.
You might notice some redness after your procedure. This is an expected side effect within the beard transplant recovery timeline and should subside quickly.
It’s usually recommended to have someone stay with you after any kind of plastic surgery, just in case you need help. Beard restoration can be a long procedure and you’re likely to be very tired afterward. At the very least, you will need someone to drive you home from your procedure. Ultimately, it’s up to you if you need the help or not. But keep in mind that it can be nice to have someone looking out for you and helping you as needed during that first night, and maybe over the next few days.
Beard transplant healing is different for everyone, though it’s important to get familiar with the common signs of infection and other complications. Your doctor might be able to provide beard transplant recovery photos so you can get an idea of the beard transplant day by day recovery process. A beard transplant after 1 week, for example, might look quite different than you might expect, so it’s good to be prepared.
It’s important to be careful about your diet after any kind of surgery. Eating foods rich in nutrients will help you recover from your procedure more quickly. You’re also likely to feel better if you focus on veggies, fruits, healthy fats, and protein, instead of empty calories, salt, and sugar. You might crave “comfort food” after your procedure, which often isn’t the best for your health and recovery. Instead, have some healthy options ready for when you come home from the surgical center so you can avoid temptation.
Hair should start to grow in the transplanted follicles within 2-3 months.
To learn more about facial hair restoration at Dr. Bared’s Miami plastic surgery center, call 305-666-1774 today. The first step in the process is a consultation to discuss your goals and expectations for beard restoration. Dr. Bared can help you determine your candidacy and walk you through the surgical process and recovery!