Is Hair Transplant Painful?

The hair transplantation is done by transplanting hair follicles from the donor area to the balding area and is performed without pain in local anesthesia. While local anesthesia is no longer a painful procedure, pain may be felt as a slight leakage due to the person’s pain threshold during the injection of anesthesia.

The anesthetic drugs used for the patient not to feel pain during the operations are also used in hair transplantation operations which are actually micro-surgical applications. In hair transplantation operations, anesthesia applied only to the transplanted area allows the patient to undergo a comfortable planting process, without affecting the consciousness level of the person, and by just numbing the transplanted area. During the operation, the only stage where the person may feel pain is the burning sensation when the anesthesia is injected. This feeling may vary from person to person, and some people never experience it. Besides, the post-operation pains are light enough to pass easily with the pain medications used.

In hair transplantation operations, local anesthesia is used to eliminate the sensation of pain in the area to be transplanted. Local anesthesia is performed by the injection of anesthetic drugs into the transplanted zone through fine needles. Injecting the drug prevents the person from feeling pain during the operation. Thus, we can say that hair transplantation is not a painful operation. Local anesthesia is applied only to the related area on ​​the head, which stimulates the nerve endings in only that area. Because the sensation is lost only in the applied area, the patient’s level of consciousness is not affected by local anesthesia and also hair transplantation is completed without any pain.

Local anesthesia applied to the scalp with the injection of anesthetic medication at regular intervals should create a completely painless environment from the beginning to the end of the operation and should not need to be re-applied if possible. For this reason, anesthesia should be done about 20 minutes before the operation begins and the region must be fully numb for patient comfort so that hair transplantation can occur without pain. Anesthesia procedure lasts about 2 – 3 minutes.

Does Hair Transplantation Hurt?

Hair transplantation operation is a microsurgical procedure performed under local anesthesia where the healing process lasts about 1 week. The hair transplantation operations, which were improved after the invention of the FUE method about 10 years ago which enables hair transplantation without requiring sutures, can be carried out in a much more comfortable and painless way today. So, does hair transplant hurt?

As in every surgical operation, a certain amount of pain and ache can be expected in hair transplantation, but nowadays, local anesthesia and various analgesic methods help to reduce the pain to a minimum level during and after the operation.

Will I Suffer During Operation?

Since hair transplantation operations are performed with local anesthesia, no pain is felt during operation under normal conditions. Each hair transplantation operation starts with the numbing of the area to be treated. In order to prevent pain during the hair transplantation operation, anesthetic drugs are injected under the skin. This process takes 1-2 min. The effect of local anesthesia may take approximately 15-20 min.

At the end of this period, the areas where local anesthesia is injected and the surrounding area get numb. Thanks to local anesthesia, the patient does not feel anything about the procedures performed in that area. The effect and duration of local anesthesia are adjusted by the anesthesiologist. Local anesthesia can be repeated during operation. For people who are afraid of local anesthesia need, jet injection and sedation methods can be used.

Anesthesia in Hair Transplantation

Anesthesia in hair transplantation is the application of anesthetic drugs that are capable of numbing the patient to the area to be operated for a painless and comfortable operation. Anesthesia method used in hair transplantation is local anesthesia (limited numbing). It is used in many areas where regional anesthesia is sufficient.

Hair transplantation is not a painful process, thanks to local anesthesia. However, if you ask the question of whether hair transplantation is painful at the time of the anesthesia is injected, the answer is different. Yes, pain may be felt when the drug is injected into the patient’s head, but it depends on the person’s pain threshold.

Although local anesthesia needles used for scalp are very small, they may cause a slight pain during contacting with the skin. The pain, however, is less painful than being injected to the arm or hips.

One other pain that can be felt during anesthesia is the pain caused by injecting the anesthetic solution into the skin. This pain observed in the form of a slight burning due to the effects of drugs is not too severe and will lose its effect within seconds.

Why Local Anesthesia?

Local anesthesia, also known as limited anesthesia, allows the patient to be awake and conscious, where a specific area of the body is numbed and thus the patient’s pain sensation is completely eliminated. Therefore, the pain is not felt during operation, and the person does not need to lose his/her consciousness.

Local anesthesia has fewer side effects as it is spread over a much smaller area than other types of anesthesia. It has much fewer risks than other types of anesthesia because the person’s breathing is not stopped. During the operation with local anesthesia, the patient is able to relax, watch TV or listen to music in a much more comfortable way.

Why Not General Anesthesia?

General anesthesia is a kind of anesthesia that provides complete suppression of consciousness and respiration as well as reflex activities by putting the patient completely into a sleep state.

Although general anesthesia risks are slightly lower today compared to the old times, it is not preferred except for large surgeries due to its risks. General anesthesia is not applied for hair transplantation which is an aesthetic operation.

Is There A Risk Of Local Anesthesia?

The risk of local anesthesia is almost zero compared to general anesthesia. The senses of hearing, vision and taste are not affected by local anesthesia. The person is conscious under the local anesthesia. Since the person is awake, he/she can read a newspaper, watch TV and even eat something during the operation. Local anesthesia does not pose a danger to the person as long as care is taken not to exceed safe dust criteria during sleep.

As in most operations, local anesthesia, which is also applied successfully in hair transplantation operations, is easily used due to various substances in it. It not only makes the patient comfortable but also makes the doctor comfortable.

Does Local Anesthesia Hurt?

Local anesthesia for hair transplantation lasts approximately 1-2 minutes. In this process, anesthetic drugs are applied to the area to be anesthetized with the help of fine-tipped injection needles. For hair transplantation, approximately 10-15 injections under the scalp may be required, but after the first 4-5 of them, the patient will not feel intense pain.

However, the pain threshold varies from person to person. For those who do not want to experience local anesthesia needle pain lasting about 1-2 minutes, “sedated local anesthesia” and “jet injector” applications can be preferred.

Jet Injector

For those who are afraid of needles and do not want to experience injection pain, jet injectors are used to ensure that the process is completed much faster. The jet injector method is carried out by transmitting more fine-tipped needles than the local anesthesia under the skin with the help of a medical device.

In this method is introduced by many hair transplantation centers as “painless hair transplantation” nowadays, local anesthesia needles are injected subcutaneously in seconds with the help of a special medical device. The jet injector is much thinner and faster than the normal needle, which makes the patient’s local anesthesia much easier and reduces the patient’s pain and stress.

Local Anesthesia with Sedation in Hair Transplantation

Both the fear of operation and needle phobia make the person give up on the transplanting operations. If the use of the jet injector is not enough to reduce the needle phobia in the patient, the doctor may provide a sedative. Applying a tranquilizer serves to facilitate medical procedures while the patient is asleep and is not completely stressed. It is administered by sedative, masked respiration, injection or oral. The patient will remain asleep for 20-30 minutes, during which the anesthesia will be given through a syringe without any sensitivity or concern.

Sedation, which is used to stop the operation from being painful, is a sleep-like condition that is created in order to make the patients not to feel pain, any disturbance, and remain motionless during the intervention. Anesthesia gases can be given by respiration or intravenously. It is applied before the local anesthesia. Sedation is divided into two according to the dose of the drug administered.

  • Conscious Sedation

The patient is conscious during the operation. He/she understand what is being said. This method only allows the patient to undergo a stress-free operation.

  • Deep Sedation

If you increase the dose of the drug, the patient goes from conscious sedation to deep sedation. And he/she will be unaware of what’s going on around him/her. It is a sleeping condition.

Is FUE Hair Transplantation Painful?

FUE technique is the most commonly used hair transplantation method. Since it is made with an extremely easy and comfortable application, it is preferred by everyone because it does not leave any traces. The application starts with obtaining hair follicles from the donor area where the hair will be removed, and it is completed with the hair follicles being planted in the area without hair. Since patients are given anesthesia before these procedures are performed, there is no problem like pain. It is not possible to experience pain or ache as the application is performed since the area gets completely numb. In some very rare cases, when the effect of anesthesia is gone, pain can be felt in the form of slight tingling. Yet, it can be removed with simple pain medications.

Since hair transplantation is considered as surgical intervention, it is performed in an operating environment in a hospital. After local anesthesia applied to patients, they can perform activities like chatting or reading books easily. In hair transplantation done by FUT method, since the tissue was removed from the scalp and then the area is sutured, there is a pain especially in the recovery period even if anesthesia is used. However, the FUE technique has eliminated this problem. Patients should not worry about this. They will feel the pain of the needle until the local anesthesia is done. They will not feel what will be done later, and once they have completed hair transplantation, they will forget everything when they regain their natural looking hair.

Will There Be Pain After the Operation?

The local anesthesia used during the procedure is effective for 6-7 hours after the operation so that hair transplantation does not cause pain. With the onset of anesthesia after the procedure, pain may be felt as a slight throbbing depending on the pain threshold of the person. However, these pains are easily avoided by the regular pain medication used.

FUE hair transplantation method used in transplantation operations since 2002 is the biggest reason for no pain to be felt after hair transplantation. With the FUT method, which was previously used as a graft collection method in hair transplantation operations, the follicles were collected in thick pieces from the donor area, and then they were planted. This caused severe pain after transplantation.

Because it was a direct surgical procedure, hair transplantation with FUT was a painful procedure. The effects of it cause people to believe that hair transplantation operations are still painful. However, thanks to the local anesthesia used during the operation with the FUE method, the pain sensation in hair transplantation has brought to a minimum level.

After hair transplantation, people who do not use pain medications regularly, who have a low pain threshold, and who have a more sensitive body may have mild pain or slight throbbing around the head for the first 3 days. Yet you can get rid of this feeling by taking some simple measures such as taking mild pain medication.

Some people may have some difficulty after the first 3 days. Since the region is under the influence of local anesthesia after the operation, most patients do not feel any pain for 8-10 hours. Pain will not be felt on the first day unless there is a significant impact or pounding after the operation. The recovery process of micro-wounds after the operation is 3 days for donor area and about 10 days for planting area.

You can make it easy and painless in this process with simple measures. After the operation, the periodic intake of painkillers (without waiting for the pain to occur) 3 times a day allows the pain to be removed without even occurring.

Pain After Hair Transplantation

The time after the hair transplant operation when there is the possibility of feeling pain is the first 10 days. In this period, the hair follicles become integrated with the tiny wounds in which the follicles are planted. The intensity of the pain felt after hair transplantation varies from person to person, but it definitely shows up during this period. During this time, the wounds in the donor area get healed, the follicles of the planted hair start to form scabs as well as adapting this new region. In this process, the most likely period to experience pain after hair transplantation is the first 3 days.

  • Pain After Hair Transplantation – Day 1

So, how much pain is felt on the first day after hair transplantation? In this period when wounds were more open, most of the patients stated that they did not feel any pain or ache because of the effect of local anesthesia which continues during the first day. Instead, an uncomfortable weight may be felt in the head area.

  • Pain After Hair Transplantation – Day 2

On the second day, the effect of local anesthesia will begin to decrease and this may cause pain and throbbing around the head. Even if you do not feel pain on the second day, you should start to regularly take the painkillers given by your doctor. This ensures that the pain is removed without emergence.

  • Pain After Hair Transplantation – Day 3

During the first three days, resting the head without bending forward is important for the prevention of pain after hair transplantation. Headache and migraine may be seen in some patients after the operation. Drinking plenty of water, resting and using the painkillers on a regular basis allows you to overcome this issue.

The majority of people who had hair transplantation stated that they did not feel pain after the operation. A small proportion of them had mild pain, but with painkillers, these pains were removed easily. After the first 3 days following hair transplantation, pain and throbbing were removed to a great extent.

Although many people say that they do not experience any pain after hair transplantation, it should be kept in mind that the period after the operation might be painful and the pain threshold of each patient is different.

In summary, pain is subjective. Some people have a low pain threshold and feel more pain during anesthesia, while others feel no pain. Under the question of whether hair transplantation will be painful, it is more accurate to give the answer that each person has a different experience.

An Extra Information: Why Do We Even Feel Pain?

The International Association of Painful Studies describes the pain as an “experience”. Pains are often generated as a result of messages sent by our tissues which are stimulated against elements that may pose a threat. In a more detailed description of the experts: “It is an uncomfortable sensory and emotional experience that can be or is potentially associated with tissue damage or is associated with such damage.”

The neurons that carry the pain signals are called nociceptors, so you can call them painful sensors for easier remembering. We call the ability to detect and transmit pain, called nociception, ie pain perception. However, as can be seen, to be able to perceive the pain is not always sufficient nor necessary for pain itself. Of course, most of the time, a bit of bitterness is associated with nociception. However, the exact amount of pain is determined by many factors. One way to understand this is that the pain signals coming to the brain need to answer a very important question: “How dangerous is it really?”. In order to respond to this, the brain collects every reliable information: previous experiences, cultural interactions, information, and other sensory hints… The list can be extended forever.

So, how do all these control the pain? The most famous answer among pain scientists is based on the complexity of the brain. We can think of pain as a conscious experience of the reaction of a particular brain cell network that is scattered throughout the brain against a certain activity. We can call this neural network a neuro set, and we call the cells that form this nerve label as member brain cells.

Each of the member brain cells within a pain neuro set may also be individuals of other neuro sets. If there is information in our mind that corresponds to the concept of hair transplantation (and the pain it creates), this information has to be held by a group of brain cell networks, and we call it the hair transplantation neuro set. Therefore, it is very likely that some members will be included in both the neuro set of the hair transplant and in the neuro set of the head pain. In other words, if we stimulate the hair transplant neuro set, we also increase the chances of the head pain neuro set to be activated.

At this point, we learn that pain can turn into an endless cycle. We know that if the pain persists, the nociception system becomes more sensitive. This means that your scalp begins to transmit information to the brain about a much higher level of pain than it actually is. This is a normal result of the persistence of pain perception on the scalp. Since pain is incorrectly associated with tissue damage, the brain has no choice but to assume that tissues are getting more and more damaged. Therefore, as the pain persists, our brain automatically assumes damage continues.

Savaş Ateş

I'm a hair loss expert. The picture was taken 10 years ago :) I have been losing my hair. So I started to learn everything about hair loss and hair transplants. I contacted a lot of hair transplant doctors. We shared our experiences. I'm writing blog posts for people who have the potential of losing their hair. I give some tips about hair transplants and medical issues too.

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