How to remove scabs after a hair transplant?

6th April 2021

Undergoing a hair transplant is an exciting time and it’s natural to want to speed up the healing process. With this in mind, many of our patients ask about how to remove scabs after a hair transplant. At The Maitland Clinic we provide full information on how to care for your scalp following surgery, helping to ensure a timely recovery and great natural-looking results.

So, how do you remove scabs after a hair transplant? We recommend that patients gently massage their scalp with their fingertips when washing and soaking their hair. This will help to soften the scabs and encourage them to fall off naturally. Although it may be tempting, you should avoid picking your scabs as this may dislodge the newly implanted grafts. With the correct washing regime, most patients are scab-free around 10 days after surgery.

Why do scabs form after a hair transplant?

The two main methods of transplanting hair at The Maitland Clinic are known as Follicular Unit Transplant/strip (FUT) and Follicular Unit Excision/Extraction (FUE). These procedures involve taking healthy hair follicles from a donor area of the patient’s scalp and transplanting them to the areas affected by hair loss (the recipient area).

In both cases, our leading surgeon and renowned hair restoration expert, Dr Edward Ball, makes tiny incisions in the recipient areas using specialist blades of 0.6mm to 1.1mm, depending on the patient’s skin texture and the size of the grafts. This stage determines the distribution and direction of growth of the new hair. Dr Ball’s highly skilled team of technicians then implant the hair grafts into the balding areas of the scalp.

Every incision inflicts a degree of trauma to the scalp and a tiny scab will form in its place. We find that correct sizing of the recipient site incisions to the size of the grafts creates a good seal which minimizes bleeding. This results in minimal scab formation and our patients are frequently surprised by how clean their scalp looks after surgery.

Scabbing will usually start to appear in the recipient area within the first 24 hours after surgery. You may also experience some redness and swelling of the scalp, although any discomfort should be mild and subside within a couple of days.

Scabs are often confused with the formation of crusts which are created by the drying fragments of skin around the top of grafts. These tend to appear as slightly raised skin-coloured dots immediately after surgery. They shrivel up to become dry crusts within the first 24 hours but are often more noticeable when they are rehydrated after applying the aftercare spray.

Whether referring to scabs or crusts, these should usually have resolved by day 10 with appropriate cautious washing.

When can you remove scabs following a hair transplant?

As with any healing wound, the scabs may feel slightly itchy but it’s important not to scratch them. The newly implanted grafts are very fragile during these crucial first few days and any contact may dislodge or damage them. This could create empty spots on the scalp and jeopardise the success of the whole procedure.
Your grafts should be secure by the sixth postoperative day and it’s at this point that you can usually soak and moisturise your hair to encourage the scabs and crusts to lift off.

How to soften scabs after a hair transplant

While it’s fine to touch your scalp from day six, we do not recommend picking the scabs off yourself. This could damage the new hair and increase the risk of bleeding and infection, which could prolong your recovery.

Instead, on the sixth postoperative day, we recommend wetting your hair in warm water, generously applying conditioner for 10 minutes and then gently massaging your scalp under the shower to remove the conditioner. This gentle process should be aimed at removing the conditioner but will, in turn, carefully moisturise and dislodge the dry skin and scabs. Try to massage your scalp using just your fingertips rather than your nails.

Once you have finished massaging off the conditioner, you can wash with a gentle shampoo and then gently pat your scalp dry with a soft towel. This effectively forms a “back-to-front” hair wash, with the use of conditioner before the shampoo. Following this routine once a day will help to soften the scabs and encourage them to fall off naturally between day 6 and day 10 after surgery.

Most people find that their head is scab-free around 10 days after surgery, although many of our patients look clean and presentable by 6-8 days after their surgery. If some scabbing or crusts persists after the tenth day then do get in touch with the team at The Maitland Clinic and we will be happy to advise you.

Exceptional aftercare at The Maitland Clinic

When you leave The Maitland Clinic we will give you comprehensive instructions on how best to care for your grafts, as well as advice on washing your hair and removing scabs and crusts. You will also receive everything you need to take care of your grafts. This includes mild shampoo and state-of-the-art Liposomal ATP aftercare sprays, which optimise the survival of grafts and expedite the healing process for a smooth recovery.

However, our support does not end once the grafts are secure and your scalp has healed. We see our patients as lifelong beneficiaries of our hair care service. You’ll be able to stay in contact with us for ongoing support and help with monitoring your hair growth progress, looking after your scalp and preventing any potential problems.

You’re welcome to return to us for check-ups and maintenance procedures at any point, giving you a lifetime of professional hair care. Read about our aftercare service here.

The Maitland Clinic has an excellent record of performing successful FUT and FUE hair transplants – you can view some of our success stories in our online gallery. To book a consultation please call us on 02392 706 122 or email us.