How to sleep after a hair transplant

29th October 2020

How to sleep after a hair transplant

Understandably, many of our patients want to know how they should care for their fragile new grafts when they leave the clinic. One of the most common areas of concern is how to sleep after a hair transplant. Here we look at this issue in more detail and include some tips on how to sleep during the recovery period.

We recommend that you sleep with a supportive neck cushion for the first five nights after a hair transplant. This ensures that your head remains in a safe, neutral position, preventing your fragile grafts from making contact with the pillow. We also suggest adding an extra pillow for the first three nights to elevate your head above the level of your heart in order to reduce postoperative swelling.

Why sleeping position is important after a hair transplant

If you’ve undergone an FUT or FUE hair transplant, it’s important to take extra care when sleeping after your surgery. Regular sleeping habits and positions risk irritating your scalp and prolonging your recovery. There’s also a danger that your delicate new grafts will become dislodged or damaged if your scalp comes into contact with your pillow. This could negatively affect the results and jeopardise the success of the treatment.

Rest assured that our experienced team at The Maitland Clinic will advise you on how to care for your precious grafts following your surgery. If you do have any questions or concerns, you are welcome to pop back at any stage.

Tips on how to sleep after a hair transplant

To achieve the best possible results from your procedure, it’s vital to follow the advice of your surgical team. This includes altering your sleeping habits during the first few postoperative days. The following tips will help to protect your grafts and increase your chances of a straightforward recovery:

  • Elevate your head and neck – Try to sleep with your head and neck elevated above the level of your heart for the first three nights during which there is the highest risk of swelling. We recommend sleeping with a neck cushion or a rolled-up towel to keep your head in a safe position for the first five nights until the grafts are secure. We provide all our patients with a soft memory foam neck pillow as part of their aftercare pack. Not only will this help to reduce postoperative swelling, but it will also prevent your grafts from coming into contact with your pillow. If you normally sleep on your stomach, it is essential to switch to lie on your back for these first 5 nights.
  • Avoid excessive movement – Avoid tossing and turning in bed as this increases the risk of the grafts becoming dislodged, for example, by hitting the headboard. Although sleeping can be challenging for a couple of days after a hair transplant, do bear in mind that any discomfort won’t last for long.
  • Cover your pillow – When you leave the clinic, we will provide you with absorbent pads to cover your neck pillow. These are designed to protect your bedding from any leakage that may occur from the scalp during the initial postoperative period,
  • Keep a clear diary – During the first two nights after surgery, we ask you to wake up every two hours in order to spray your grafts with the ATP aftercare solution. We apologise for this disturbance to your sleep but reassure you that it is an invaluable intervention which improves the survival of the transplanted hair and accelerates healing of the scalp. It is worthwhile having a clear diary for the first few post-operative days so that you can doze and catch up on sleep during the daytime.
  • Avoid sleeping tablets – We strongly advise against taking sleeping tablets during the first five nights after a hair transplant in order to avoid inadvertently contacting your new grafts during a deep sleep.

If you can’t sleep after a hair transplant, perhaps because your scalp is itching or you’re finding your new sleeping position uncomfortable, try to remember that this initial discomfort is only temporary. You’ll soon be able to return to your regular sleeping position, confident in the knowledge that you’ve given yourself the best possible chance of a straightforward recovery.

When can I sleep normally after a hair transplant?

We recommend that you sleep with your head in an elevated position for the first three nights following surgery. After this point, the swelling will subside and you can lie flat. However, it is important to continue to use the neck pillow until the grafts are secure after five nights. By the sixth night, your grafts will be secure and you can sleep with a normal pillow. It’s at this stage that you can also have your first contact hair wash.

Please note that the healing process can vary from patient to patient so it’s important to follow the advice given by Dr Ball and his team. If you’re worried about sleeping after an FUE or FUT hair transplant, we will be happy to discuss your concerns and offer advice to help you achieve a more restful night’s sleep.

How hair transplants work

The two main methods of transplanting hair are known as Follicular Unit Transplantation/strip (FUT) and Follicular Unit Excision/Extraction (FUE). In both cases, The Maitland Clinic’s leading surgeon and renowned hair restoration expert, Dr Edward Ball, makes tiny incisions in the recipient areas of the scalp to establish 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 step is performed with great care, precision and artistry to create a natural look that’s unique to each patient.

Following a hair transplant, you may experience some swelling and initial discomfort, although this can be easily managed with painkillers and will soon subside. There will also be some scabbing in the donor and recipient areas of the scalp. During the first few weeks, the newly implanted grafts are very fragile and you should take care not to damage them.

Aftercare at The Maitland Clinic

When you leave the clinic following your treatment, we’ll ensure you have everything you need to take care of your grafts. This includes instructions for sleeping and hair washing, a memory foam neck pillow, as well as any medication that may be necessary to manage initial discomfort. We can also provide special Liposomal ATP aftercare sprays which encourage healing and growth in the transplanted area.

What’s more, our ‘open-door’ policy ensures you’ll have access to a lifetime of professional hair care. This means you’ll be able to check in with us for ongoing support and advice in the months and years after your hair transplant. You can read more about our exceptional aftercare service on our website.

To find out more about hair transplants at The Maitland Clinic, or to book a consultation, please call us on 02392 706 122.