Hair Transplant Scars: How Long Do They Last and Can You Remove Them?
Hair transplant techniques have come a long way since Dr. Norman Orentreich performed the first procedure in the 1950s. The latest methods achieve more natural results than primitive hair plugs ever could, and can lead to permanent hair growth that lasts for decades.
However, scarring is still an unavoidable outcome despite radical improvements in surgical technologies and wound-closing practices. And if you’re considering a hair transplant, you’re bound to worry about scars.
But we’ll help to make your decision easier with this post. Read on for all the information you need on post-transplant scarring, whether scars can be removed, and concealment tips.
Like most patients, you’ll choose your transplantation method based on:
- The extent of your hair loss
- The amount of healthy donor hair remaining on your scalp
- The size of the balding/thinning area(s)
- The cost of the procedure
But scarring should be another key factor when you make your decision. If you’re concerned about how visible scars may reduce your satisfaction with the results, discuss your options with a consultant. They’ll help you find the right technique for you.
Let’s take a closer look at both techniques.
The surgeon removes a strip of skin from the back of the head, usually a few inches wide, and harvests its follicles. Next, they insert the follicles into tiny incisions on the balding areas of the scalp. A local anaesthetic will keep you comfortable throughout. This is performed as an outpatient procedure.
The surgeon will suture the donor area together, and those stitches should stay in place for around 10 days. However, they will leave a visible scar after they’re removed. The scar’s size varies based on the amount of skin extracted — it may even run from ear to ear.
This method involves extracting follicles from donor areas on the back and sides of the scalp. The surgeon uses a precise micro-punch instrument to remove individual follicle grafts carefully, but each “punch” leaves a barely noticeable scar with a diameter of around 1 millimetre. Follicles are then implanted into incisions on the scalp’s thinning/bald areas.
This is a complex procedure that can take several hours to complete depending on the severity of hair loss. Multiple sessions may be required over a few months to achieve your ideal hair growth.
This technique can create a large amount of tiny scars on the scalp — hundreds, possibly thousands. But no stitches are involved, and the recovery period is usually shorter than with FUT. FUE is performed as an outpatient procedure under local anaesthetic. Scars typically appear as little white dots after they heal.
Surgeons may try to keep post-FUT scars minimal by performing the procedure with great care, but scarring will still be visible on the back of the scalp permanently. They’ll always be on your skin, even though scars fade over time. And scarring may be more noticeable as you get older as the scalp gradually sags with age.
Alternatively, surgeons can use the FUE technique to implant follicles into the donor area after an FUT treatment. This stimulates hair growth to help conceal the scar. But success depends on the thickness of both the scar and hair. Certain medications can make scar tissue thinner, which may improve the outcome.
However, healthy skin responds better to grafts than scarred skin, so this method still won’t guarantee satisfactory results. Your surgeon will help you determine if this is a viable option for you.
You may try multiple techniques to conceal your scars after a hair transplant:
You may want to grow your hair to cover scars on the donor area(s). But thicker, more visible scars (such as keloid scars) can be harder to mask than others.
Keloid scars are bigger and more raised than standard scars, and tend to grow over several months or years. If you’re prone to keloid scarring, tell your surgeon before treatment.
Scalp micropigmentation (SMP) is also known as scalp hair tattooing or medical hairline tattooing. It’s a permanent cosmetic treatment designed to create the illusion of thicker, fuller hair on thinning or bald scalps.
A specialist injects carefully selected pigment directly into your scalp, using an ink colour that matches your hair. This can help to conceal scars caused by FUT or FUE procedures.
SMP artists may require multiple sessions to achieve the ideal coverage, and it can be uncomfortable (especially if you’ve never been tattooed).
Tricopigmentation (TMP) is similar to SMP, but offers temporary tattooing instead. TMP artists inject ink into the skin’s top layer only, so the pigment doesn’t penetrate the scalp as deeply as it does during SMP procedures.
TMP can last for anywhere between six months and three years on average, but the duration varies. As with SMP, TMP can be uncomfortable for some patients.
Laser treatment can reduce the visibility of scarring, and may be used in isolation or with SMP or TMP. This technique eliminates damaged tissue on scars’ surface, and stimulates collagen production to improve elasticity. Your skin will look healthier overall.
However, results can differ from case to case, as laser treatment wasn’t created exclusively to remove scars after hair transplants. Your surgeon can help you determine if laser treatment is likely to be effective on your scars.
Hair restoration surgery can promote healthy hair growth across the scalp and achieve amazing transformations. Surgeons can add density to maturing hairlines, thicken hair on balding crowns, and rejuvenate hair affected by pattern baldness.
But permanent scars are unavoidable with any technique, and they’ll stay visible for the rest of your life. FUE creates less noticeable scarring than FUT, which is ideal if you want to keep your surgery as discreet as possible. You may also be able to try scar removal processes to minimise their visibility, cover them with hair, or use SMP or TMP.
However, it’s vital that you choose a trained, seasoned surgeon with a history of successful transplants. HairPalace’s surgeons are highly experienced and utilise the cutting-edge FUE2 technique to achieve natural hair growth. This also causes less visible scarring than older methods.
The technologies and techniques available today are significantly more advanced than those from the early days of hair replacement surgery. However, scars are still unavoidable with hair transplants.
Success isn’t always certain with hair transplants, and some scarring is inevitable. Your scalp will naturally begin to sag with age, which can make scars look more pronounced.
Hair transplants leave narrow scars that fade within several months. It’s crucial that you follow post-treatment directions, which include pinching the scarred area approximately three weeks after surgery. It can be difficult to hide scars from FUT surgery, and you may want to avoid having your hair cut close to the scalp.
Hair follicles form under the skin, where they grow hair in a continuous cycle. They need blood to develop, function properly, and regenerate. However, follicles naturally won’t grow back in scarred skin — which means that hair will never grow on scar tissue.