Can you please tell me about the post-operative course I can expect after a strip and FUE surgery?
If you wash your hair twice a day starting the next day after surgery, most of the scabs and redness should be gone and you should be left with a 1/4 inch stubble of hair on the front after 2 weeks. I suppose if you are really looking at it you may be able to tell something was done. Cosmetically it should not be an issue. For those with transplants to the hairline or frontal area, if your exiting hair is long and you comb it forward to cover it, then it should not be noticeable.
Some patients with fair skin may get persistent redness for weeks after surgery. The redness will look like you have a slight sun burn. Most patients do not. Risk is higher in fair skinned individuals. As a rough rule of thumb test, to see if you may get the redness after surgery by scratching your forehead with your fingernail. Wait a few minutes to see if your scratch mark is bright red. If that happens, then your risk of redness after the transplant is higher than most people.
Some patients get forehead swelling on the 3rd day after surgery and it may last a couple of days, up to a week. For your social needs, 14 days should be no issue. Risk of swelling is about 1 in 30 and it is completely random. Once in a while some people get swelling so bad it may shut your eyes and cause bags under your eyes. We give corticosteroid to minimize the risk, but the risk is still there (although very small).
In general, most people return to their day-to-day activity in as early as 3 days. If your hair is long enough to cover the transplant, you can practically walk out of the clinic the same day and go to work the next day. (Or the same day if you’re Dr. Rassman who just had a hair transplant surgery (strip) to his crown) You can always use Toppik or a similar agent to cover any areas after the surgery.
If you are having a follicular unit extraction (FUE) procedure, the back of your scalp will be shaved. So in 2 weeks, the back of your scalp will have 2 weeks of hair growth over the FUE scars (about 1/4 inch length can be expected). At 2 weeks the FUE scabs may be detectable on close inspection, but should be cosmetically unnoticeable. Some people have the option to have FUE done without shaving the back of the head completely, but this will limit the number of grafts we can extract in a single session.