When a person watches their hairline recede and lose their crowning glory, life almost comes to a standstill. They feel anxious and embarrassed. What would other people say if they saw the bald, thinning patches?
These thoughts can plague you no matter how old you are. And so, a hair transplant comes to the rescue. But you may worry about what other people will say and how it will make you feel. And that leads to the question, is a discreet hair transplant possible?
The problem is that for so long, hair transplant has been touted as cosmetic surgery. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), and the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery (BAHRS) are of the stance that hair transplant should not be considered cosmetic surgery. That’s because it results from genetic and hormonal causes.
When males consider undergoing this surgery, they feel some hesitance and shame. Why? Because “cosmetic” isn’t something that “men” concern themselves with. It isn’t “manly” enough. Furthermore, they are made to feel as if losing hair is somehow their fault.
They’re caught between a rock and a hard place. They don’t like their bald head, and they also don’t like how people would make them feel if they had transplant surgery. So, they want to know if a discreet hair transplant is possible.
What Are the Signs You Had A Hair Transplant?
The biggest giveaway of a hair transplant procedure is that your hair will get shaved.
You may try to deflect attention away from it by getting a buzzcut a while before the surgery. It would seem that you’re trying out a new hairstyle, and you may get some looks when it’s all new, but after some time, you won’t.
And so, when the hair is shaved for the Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) hair transplant, it won’t draw as much attention to it. Regardless, some other signs of hair transplant include:
Your Head & Face Will Be Swollen
It’s one of the most noticeable signs of the surgery and can last for a week. The swelling can travel down the face, making your face look puffy. It’s unavoidable and a part of the recovery process.
You’ll Have Tiny Wounds All Over Your Scalp
For the extraction of hair follicles from the donor area, the surgeon makes incisions, which later form scabs. Similarly, you’ll have scabs around transplanted hair because incisions are made for implantation.
These scabs will fall off 2 weeks after the surgery. However, till then, you’re stuck with them. And since the appearance of these puncture wounds is so unlike any other scalp injury, it will give other people the idea that you had surgery.
Your Scalp Wounds Will Bleed
This will, of course, occur in the donor and recipient areas. Fortunately, it only lasts for 2-3 days, and most people prefer to rest for that duration. So, when you go back out again, there won’t be any signs of bleeding.
You’ll Have Redness
It is common to have scalp redness after surgery. However, how long the redness will last depends on your skin. Usually, it goes away in less than a week.
So, with these in mind, you have an estimate of how long you’ll have visible signs of hair restoration surgery.
It’s the scabbing that’ll take the longest to go away. However, 2 weeks after the hair transplant procedure, you can start wearing loose scarves, caps, and even lace wigs. There are other ways by which you can hide your head after surgery. That will make it possible for you to have a hair transplant discreetly.
Why Is It So Difficult to Hide Hair Transplants?
Other than the reasons mentioned above, some other things might just give away the fact that you had a hair transplant.
For a while, you’ll have to make some lifestyle changes. And people who know you will take notice. It’s just a part of the aftercare process, and you have to follow it to see good results.
If you’re a gym nut who loves to spend a lot of your time working out, you’ll have to take a short break (for at least a month). If you’re into swimming, you’d know that you can’t go to the pool for a while. You can’t smoke or drink either.
Lastly, three months after your surgery, people will notice that your hair is growing in previously bald or thin areas. If you get a hair transplant in the early stages of thinning, you might just escape notice.
The thing is, it’s just the very nature of hair transplants and their recovery process that makes them difficult to hide. And to avoid temporary discomfort from trying to hide your scalp, you should try and understand why it is that you’re hiding this in the first place.
Understanding the reasons behind it may help you overcome this. You can choose to tell people around you that you are having surgery or simply not tell anyone since it is a personal decision. Just keep in mind that there’s absolutely nothing wrong or shame in taking care of your body.
Can I Get An Unshaven FUE for Discreet Hair Transplant?
Many hair transplant clinics offer unshaven FUE (U-FUE), also known as no-shave FUE.
In this, the existing hair in the recipient areas will remain intact. And, in some cases, some hair remains at the donor site. It is possible in those cases where the surgeon doesn’t need as much donor hair, so they only shave small patches.
Depending on your hair length, you can easily hide those patches. This way, you can get a hair transplant without anyone knowing.
What Can Males Do?
Men can pull off an undercut with slick back hair or a side part, taper fade, bowl cut, or a crew cut.
With the hair strands at the top still there, you can try different hairstyles to hide the fact that you had a hair transplant. This is even after you’ve had your sides and back shaved.
Of course, hair loss in the top, crown, and/or hairline won’t make you look impeccable (at least for a while), but you’d have something to make things more discreet. This is why some people prefer U-FUE over shaved FUE.
What Can Females Do?
Women usually experience thinning along the hairline, so they might not end up needing as many grafts. Only a patch may be shaved for obtaining follicular units from the back. However, you have to wear your hair in a top bun for a little more than a week after the surgery.
It’s just to prevent grafts from moving after an FUE hair transplant. But again, you can style it using buzzcuts, mushroom cuts with an undercut, French crop, pixie cut and topknots afterwards.
The back and sides are either partially or completely shaved in many of the hairstyles, giving you the perfect cover. Of course, the change in outlook will be radical for many. They’re going to try something completely new, not knowing how it will look. But you only have to keep the end goal in mind and remind yourself that it’s going to be temporary. Short-term pain for long-term gain.
Plan In Advance For A Discreet Hair Transplant
That’s the best thing that you can do when trying to get a hair transplant discreetly. If there’s a big event coming up like a wedding, it’s better to make preparations for a hair transplant at least months, if not a year in advance (final results take at least 1 year to show).
You can figure out a time during which you can get days off from work/everyday routine for this surgery. It will also give you enough time to make changes to your hairstyle before the surgery so that things are a bit more discreet.
Other than that, it will give you enough time to do your research rather than rushing into things. Consult hair transplant surgeons about different treatment options for your case.
If low hair density is your issue, a simple scalp micropigmentation (SMP) treatment can fix it. If the balding area is too large and you don’t have time to have multiple sessions of surgery, SMP can also step in there to help you. It can give the illusion of a full head of hair.
There’s no way you can have a completely discreet hair transplant, even if there are a few ways to hide it. If the shaved area doesn’t give it away, the temporary side effects and aftercare lifestyle changes might.
The appearance of the donor area immediately after surgery is going to be different because that’s just how a hair transplant is done.
Not everyone makes a good candidate for unshaven FUE. And you can’t immediately cover your head after the surgery because it can damage the results. Therefore, it’s best to prepare in advance.
To speed up the healing after hair restoration, your surgeon might recommend platelet-rich plasma (PRP). The growth factors in it won’t just speed up healing but also improve the results. So, you might be done with the whole ordeal more quickly.
Reviewed and Approved by Dr. Hassan Soueid.