hair transplant oedema

Swelling After Hair Transplant

This article describes swelling after hair transplant reasons and ways to cope with it. In medical science, it is called oedema. Head swelling is one of the most common after hair transplant complications. Is swelling after hair transplant normal? Should it be this way? How many days does it last? When does it pass? How does it pass? What are the risks? How is oedema treated?

Swelling after hair transplant is a widely met situation. The forehead, face, and eyelid are the most affected areas, which brings inconvenience to a patient’s life. Swelling together with tension creates throb-like pain. There are some measures that can help to reduce swelling after the hair transplant or avoid it totally.

Why Does Face Swell After Hair Transplant?

Face swelling after hair transplant usually occurs between the 2nd and 5th days after the surgery. Sometimes, it is very severe and a patient has pain and difficulties to open the eyes. In other cases, it results in the purpleness of the eyelids (ecchymose). In fact, the purpleness and swelling are a regular consequence of the hair transplant.

Swelling after hair transplant is a widely met situation. The forehead, face, and eyelid are the most affected areas, which brings inconvenience to a patient’s life. Swelling together with tension creates throb-like pain. There are some measures that can help to reduce swelling after the hair transplant or avoid it totally.

Micro-channels are opened on recipient area to implant hair grafts with classic FUE method. To implant the hair smoothly and easily, isotonic fluid (saline fluid) is injected under the skin. The fluidized skin gets soft and swollen, which simplifies implantation. Channel opening and needle injections are referred to a small trauma. Oedema (swelling) is a result of the body’s defense mechanism. Isotonic fluid’s effect injected to the recipient area passes 2-3 days after the surgery.

Face swelling is very often met in the channel hair transplant method. It strikes the forehead and eye area in an advanced degree. Moreover, ecchymose can occur in supraorbital. Swelling after the eyebrow hair transplant and women hair transplant is described on relevant pages.

When Does Swelling After Hair Transplant Pass? How Many Days Does It Last?

Normally, swelling after hair transplant passes naturally in one week. The fluids are excreted by the body circulations through the kidney in the urine. Anesthesia injected to get the skin numb is excreted in the same way as well. Be sure that swelling after hair transplant is a normal process. If the doctor or his assisting personnel explain all possible consequences to a candidate before the procedure, there will be no negative psychological impacts or needles worries.

Oedema Swelling Classification

Swelling after hair transplant can be classified according to the severity of the clinical condition:

  • Degree 0: No swelling
  • Degree 1: There is oedema only on top of the forehead. It passes easily.
  • Degree 2: There is swelling on the forehead and oedema on the top and bottom of it as well. Medical treatment may be needed.
  • Degree 3: Oedema is on the supraorbital. It is a little more severe. 
  • Degree 4: There is purpleness on the supraorbital. The treatment can last up to 10 days.

The picture below illustrates the Degree 3 swelling.

hair transplant swelling
What are the measures to prevent the swelling after hair transplant?

A correct sleeping position reduces oedema. It is advised to sleep in a half-sejant pose. About 45 degrees in head position is enough. Two pillows and a proper angle can easily solve this problem. Do not sleep faced down, because it causes swelling after hair transplant and also implanted hair can be defected or removed when contacting the pillow. Moreover, try to not disturb the sleeping routine.

Aspirin increases conduction and blood circulation in vessel capillaries (capillary circulation and permeability) that nourish the hair roots. Concussing a lot of water will help your body to accelerate circulation, oedema fluid leaves the body through urine excretion. It is better to consume food which contains just a little salt for some period after the transplantation.

swelling after hair transplant
Bandage and Ice Application

The headbands, compressor bands, ice bags on forehead area and face also reduce swelling. Ice bag application is what we recommend. Put the ice into towel and then apply to the swollen area. Do not keep it for more than 3-5 minutes on one spot. You can repeat the ice bag application with an interval of 3-5 hours. Over-keeping ice on swollen skin may cause ice burn. Ice helps to decelerate blood circulation in the capillary vessels which reduce the swelling.

Be careful not to get too close to the implanted area while applying ice compress. Ice can affect and damage hair roots. Ice application can easily help you to pass through listed above Stages 1 and 2. You should not be worried about purpleness under eyes, you can cover them with sunglasses.

Steroid Treatment in Swelling After Hair Transplant

An advanced degree swelling at the 3rd or 4th stage can be easily cured by the doctor with medical steroid treatment. The steroid is commonly known as cortisone. It is used in many cases in medicine as well as in oedema.

  • a) Oral Steroid Treatment. Dexamethasone or Prednisolone treatment: It is consumed orally. Do not use it without a doctor’s prescription. Despite the steroids to be widely implemented in medicine, they have some side effects. Do not use it unless consulted with your doctor. This is very important for candidates having diabetes or hypertension. When the salt amount in food is not reduced, cortisone can switch to its opposite and increase the swelling.
  • b) Steroid Application as Intramuscular Injection (intra-hip): It s applied by the decision of a doctor in critical oedema cases. We do not give any information about doses because they vary depending on every patient individually and should be considered by the doctor. Intermuscular injection of steroids leads to faster results rather than oral treatment of swelling after hair transplant.
  • c) Steroid Application Mixed with Anesthesia Solution: In order to reduce or prevent oedema from the beginning, steroids are added into the anesthesia that is applied during the surgery. It is favored by some doctors. The steroids are mixed with triamcinolone and anesthetic solutions. It has been proven by studies that normal saline solution of 100cc, Adrenaline 1/1000 1cc, Triamcinolone 40 mg application solves the problem of swelling after hair transplant for more than 97%.

Swelling After Hair Transplant and the DHI Method

Hair transplant with the Dhi method leads to little or no swelling compared to other methods. There is no need to inject a physiological saline solution in the Dhi hair transplant. Only some water is injected together with anesthesia. However, we do not find injecting water under the skin appropriate. The hair transplant with this method is already an easy procedure and it does not result in any swelling. Dr. Hakan Doganay has been practicing hair transplants with pen implanter for more than 10 years. Even if his surgeries cause swelling, it is at a low degree and passes fastly.

Physiological saline solution is injected on donor area to swell it and create a better tissue for simple and quick grafts extraction. Swelling that occurred on the back of the head or in lower head areas does not bother much. This is why there is no after surgery swelling treatment for the donor area.


Even if the swelling after hair transplant is a natural consequence, yet, many patient are uncomfortable with it. In most cases, swelling passes by simple ice application, rarely, it requires medical treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Best Sleeping Position After Hair Transplant?

After hair transplant you will be given or advised a certain neck collar. It is actually a trip pillow. You will sleep comfortably once you set it under your neck. Moreover, if possible, try to put two more pillows under your head to stay more sejant. The most important thing to remember is not to sleep facedown because it results in swelling and damages hair roots.

When Does the Pain in Donor Area Pass?

Actually, pain occurs in a few cases and even if there is pain, it can easily be relieved with analgesics. The pain lasts a maximum of one week. We advise you to refer to your doctor if the pain does not pass.

What Are the Complications After Hair Transplant?

Necrosis is one of the least wanted complications after hair transplant. Despite this, there are other predictable situations that should not be considered as complications. For instance, swelling, shock popping, hypokinesia (numbness), etc.

Is Nape Swelling After Hair Transplantation Considered Normal?

To extract the roots comfortably, fluid is injected into the skin after anesthesia. It is salty water, which is called isotonic. Swelling in the neck area may occur due to this liquid. It will naturally pass within a few days.

In how Many Days Does the Swelling Pass After Hair Transplant?

If you follow all instructions given by your doctor, it will pass in a maximum of 7 days

  1. Gravity position to prevent facial edema in hair transplantation. Sungjoo Tommy Hwang. Hair Transplant Forum International May 2009, 19 (3) 77-82; DOI:

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