Be it any kind of surgical procedure, surgical pain is a common concern among patients. Even though a hair transplant is not as invasive as some other surgical procedures, the procedure still involves making incisions. Therefore, a frequently asked question by patients is: Does a hair transplant hurt?
Since a hair transplant is done under anaesthesia, it should not cause any pain, especially during the procedure. Still, there are some people who’ll tell you that they experienced pain as a result of the surgery, not just during but after it as well. In this guide, you’ll learn more about why it happens and what you can do.
Does FUE Hair Transplant Hurt?
Temporary discomfort may result from the injection of the local anaesthetic during Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) hair transplantation.
In particular, it can be caused by lidocaine. According to a study published in the Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association, pain from the injection of lidocaine is a “necessary evil.”
However, once the anaesthesia takes effect, your scalp will feel numb, and you won’t feel further pain during the procedure itself. You might experience slight discomfort, though. But in case you experience pain, you must inform your surgeon so that the anaesthetist can adjust your medication.
Research published in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery has noted that pain is a “common side effect” during and after a hair transplant, but it can be easily managed through the use of proper techniques and analgesics.
Another thing to note here is that you can also choose to have what’s known as “needle-free anaesthesia.” It uses a jet injector for high-speed delivery of the numbing agent into the target area. Once the scalp is numb, your surgeon will follow it up with the local anaesthetic, but, in this case, it won’t cause as much pain.
In general, FUE is minimally invasive as it uses a punch tool to directly extract follicular units from the back of the scalp, so there’s no strip of skin being cut out from the back, which might cause more pain after surgery.
Does FUT Hair Transplant Hurt?
Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT), like FUE, takes place under local anaesthesia, so it shouldn’t cause pain during the surgery. However, the technique of the surgery can cause relatively more pain after the surgery.
In FUT, instead of extracting the hair grafts directly from the scalp, a strip of skin is cut out. From the strip, follicular units are obtained, which are then transplanted into the bald spots. The skin at the back is stitched back, but this surgical wound can take longer to heal.
A study published in the Archives of Plastic Surgery compared the post-operative pain felt by patients in FUT and FUE patients. The researchers found that the pain in the donor area (from where follicles were extracted) was significantly less in FUE patients compared to the FUT ones.
They also reported that for those who had FUE, their pain only lasted for 1 day, while those who had FUT experienced pain for 3 days. Also, when it comes to FUT, the technique can also be a factor affecting pain levels.
The above-mentioned study in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery mentions that factors like a wide strip incision and tension on the wound can cause pain.
Do Facial Hair Transplants Hurt?
Facial transplants involving the beard, moustache and/or sideburns are done under anaesthesia as well, so you don’t need to worry about the pain. Although the anaesthesia injection itself can be painful, but that’s also very temporary.
Facial hair transplant can be done using either FUE or the FUT technique. The pain in your donor area after the procedure can vary depending on how the grafts were extracted and how good your surgeon was. So, the answer to “Does hair transplant surgery hurt,” can vary.
How Does Local Anaesthesia For Hair Transplant Work?
Local anaesthesia works by numbing a specific area of the body, so you don’t feel pain there. It essentially stops the nerves in that area from sending pain signals to the brain, but you don’t lose consciousness with it.
It’s what’s mainly used in hair transplantation surgery to numb the scalp, and the anaesthetic is injected into both the donor and the recipient areas. From the donor area, which is the back and sides of the head, the surgeon has to extract grafts, so it needs to be anaesthetised, as you’ll feel pain otherwise.
From the recipient area, where the grafts are going to be transplanted, small incisions will be made to place the grafts. Without anaesthesia, that can cause pain as well. It should also be noted that patients may be given sedation with anaesthesia to help them feel more relaxed.
Also, local anaesthesia is preferred for a hair transplant because, for one, it is safer than general anaesthesia. Moreover, you need to be awake during the surgery to change your position, which would be difficult if you’re under general anaesthesia.
You don’t need to be worried, though. Since the procedure can be 6-8 hours long, you can keep yourself entertained throughout by watching movies, playing games or listening to music. It is something that hair transplant patients do.
Are Hair Transplants Painful?
Under anaesthesia, hair transplants are not painful. The pain that patients experience can mainly come from the lidocaine in the injection. That pain is also brief as your scalp will soon be numb for the surgery.
Also, as mentioned above, if you’re worried about the pain from the local anaesthesia, you can choose to have a needle-free anaesthesia first. It will use a jet injector to deliver the anaesthesia, so your skin is numbed with that. And when the local anaesthetic is injected after that, you won’t experience as much pain.
How Painful Is A Hair Transplant?
The pain threshold varies for each patient. Some people describe the pain from the local anesthesia as “not bad”, while others find it “a bit intense”. Afterwards during the surgery, however, you might have slight discomfort at most or not even that.
Again, while you have the option to choose needle-free anaesthesia prior to getting the injection for the local anaesthetic, your surgeon can also play a role in minimising your pain.
There are certain techniques that can be employed for that, so you must do your research to find a good surgeon.
Also, you must ask your surgeon the question, “Does getting a hair transplant hurt,” before the surgery so they can explain to you what they’ll do to maximise your comfort.
So, do hair transplants hurt? As you know, the answer to that can vary depending on the stage of the transplantation surgery. Anaesthetic injection can cause pain, but it’s short-term, and you won’t experience pain during the procedure itself.
Afterwards, you might’ve pain for some time, but your surgeon should prescribe painkillers for its management. If your pain doesn’t get better or starts to worsen, you must get in touch with a surgeon as soon as possible.
Many people wanting to get the surgery themselves ask others, “Did a hair transplant hurt?” You don’t have to let this be the reason for not getting surgery, as there are ways to manage it with anaesthesia and even needle-free anaesthesia. Just make sure to find the right surgeon and have a thorough consultation with them.
Reviewed and Approved by Trichologist Yaprak Yazan