Swelling After Hair Transplant: Causes and 8 Tips to Minimise It

Hair loss is an unpleasant experience with many factors contributing to it. Genetics, nutritional deficiencies, depression, stress, anxiety, ailments, and even their treatments can cause it. In many cases, it makes people perceive themselves negatively. So, they seek a transplant to restore their confidence. 

However, as with all surgeries, there is some physical discomfort that might follow. Swelling after a hair transplant is one. It is something that patients commonly experience. The good news is that you shouldn’t worry about it. 

What is Swelling? 

Swelling refers to the abnormal enlargement of any part of the body. It could be internal or external. 

The swelling starts during the surgery when an anaesthetic is injected to puff up the skin. It peaks after 2-6 days. And it’s possible for the swelling to travel down the face, affecting the forehead, eyes, and cheeks.

It can hamper normal functioning. Many people don’t feel comfortable being in the public eye as they’re experiencing it. However, you have to remain patient and wait it out. In some cases, it is severe enough that the eyes get swollen shut, or the skin goes black. If that’s the case, you need to get in touch with your surgeon immediately. 


Swelling can develop either as a result of inflammation or fluid retention. 


Completely normal in its occurrence, it’s the body’s way of reacting to any sort of injury sustained. Incisions made during the surgery are a form of injury that can get inflamed and swollen. 


Another reason is the drugs administered for the surgery. Following the injection of anaesthesia to numb the skin, the surgeon administers a liquid called lidocaine. It lifts the skin so that the underlying bone and tissue remain unharmed. This is also what causes swelling to occur. 

Is Swelling After A Hair Transplant Normal?

One of the most common complications of hair transplant is swelling. However, it’s normal and even expected. It’s because of the accumulation of lymphatic fluid due to the reasons mentioned above. It is quite possible for it to peak after a few days, but it should start settling down afterwards. 

As you’re experiencing that, there’s no need for immediate alarm. There are many people who wonder, “how long does swelling after a hair transplant last?” It can take anywhere between 2-3 days for it to settle down. 

How To Reduce Swelling After Hair Transplant? 

There are more than a few ways through which you can minimise swelling after a hair transplant. These are as follows: 

Wear Your Headband 

You’re going to leave the clinic with a headband. It’s supposed to keep the swelling from travelling down your face. You’ll have to start wearing it after the first wash of your scalp following the surgery. In addition, you need to wear this (even when you’re sleeping) for the next 1-2 days. 

Take Your Medicines

Your surgeon will prescribe you steroids after the surgery for dealing with this complication. You’d have to take these from anywhere between 2-3 days. Steroids are most effective when it comes to dealing with swelling or preventing it entirely. Although it’s available in different forms (injection, cream or tablet), you’ll have to take it orally. 

Keep the Head Elevated 

To prevent the swelling from worsening after the transplant, you must keep your head elevated. That’s because gravity will make the swelling go down. You need to make sure that you’re keeping your head elevated until the swelling is entirely gone. 

That means not dropping your head forward in the “text neck” position. It also means avoiding any activity that requires bending your head downward and forward. You should also avoid bending down to pick up your children, as all of these things can make the swelling worse. If your job requires you to be in a position where your head is not elevated, it’s better that you take a few days off. It’d be better to have to do that than take a longer break because of extreme swelling. 

Sleep At A 45-Degree Angle

One of the most important things to do after surgery is to adjust your sleeping position. Of course, it’s a temporary measure to help with the swelling and keep the grafts unharmed.

You have to sleep at an angle of 45° for a couple of days after the surgery. Make sure that you have more than a few pillows at hand for that. To be on the safe side, you should consider sleeping in a recliner or a sofa.

It is important that soon after the surgery, you do not sleep on your forehead. Make sure that it is your back that supports the weight while sleeping.

Drink Lots of Water 

Staying hydrated is good even for minimising swelling. That’s because the water helps flush out the fluids and medicines that are injected into the head during the surgery. 

You may think that drinking water is going to make swelling worse because more fluids are the last thing you need, but that’s not how it actually works. If you don’t drink enough water, you’re likely to experience more swelling because the body will hold onto the remaining fluids in your body. 

Take Rest & Don’t Stress

While you’re recovering, it’s important that you listen to your body. Swelling means that your body is still healing. Therefore, you need to make sure that you do not engage in any strenuous activities that can worsen your condition or make you restless and stressed. For many, swelling itself is a cause for concern, but keep in mind that it’s only temporary. 

Avoid Salty Foods

Another thing that you need to do to avoid swelling after a hair transplant is to stay away from salty foods. For the increased amount of sodium, the body needs to create a balance by retaining more water. Therefore, the more salt you consume, the more swelling you will have.

Avoid Exercising 

It’s advised that you don’t do hard workouts after surgery for many reasons. Sweating is one, and swelling is another reason. That’s because it can cause small tears in the muscles, with the resulting inflammatory response causing additional swelling. To avoid that, you need to avoid hitting the gym for at least a month. 

When Is Swelling After A Hair Transplant A Problem?

Swelling after a hair transplant is a problem if it persists for longer than what’s considered normal. You may have a hair transplant infection if it’s accompanied by other symptoms like: 

  • Redness
  • Pain 
  • Warmth 
  • Drainage
  • Fever 
  • Tenderness

In this case, you need to immediately get in touch with your doctor as it can end up causing damage to your hair grafts. 

Concluding Remarks 

Post-op swelling is a common problem that many patients experience. However, it is nothing to worry about in most cases. You should keep an eye on it anyway to see how it’s healing.  

Your doctor will advise you about a few things that you need to avoid after the surgery to minimize the swelling or prevent it altogether. You mustn’t incline your head downward, eat salty foods or exercise, as they can all make the swelling worse. It can travel down your face. And sometimes, it gets so bad that you’re unable to keep your eyes open.  

To keep it at bay, you need to make sure that you’re drinking plenty of water, taking your medicines, wearing your headband, and keeping your head elevated. Lastly, it’s also important that you allow your body to rest. You’ve just had surgery, and it’s not a good idea to put too much strain on yourself. It will only cause more complications, which will delay your recovery.    

Reviewed and Approved by Dr. Cagla Yuksel.

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