Is a FUE hair transplant painful?


When we do consultations for patients at Northwestern Hair, the most common question we get asked is — “Is it painful?” Most people feel anxious about having their procedure done because they don’t want to experience unbearable pain or discomfort while under anesthesia.

However, since everyone’s experience with anesthesia is different and everyone has a different response to anesthesia, how can we know if hair transplant surgery is painful or not? We’ll discuss these factors in more detail in this post below. However, before we do, let’s take a quick look at the hair transplant process.

The Hair Transplant Process

A hair transplant is a surgical FUE procedure involving graft placement in a recipient area. The procedure is performed on a patient’s scalp and is usually done in two stages. Typically, the doctor will remove a strip of hair from the back or side of the head. Next, they will transplant this strip into the bald spots on your head. The length and density of these strips vary greatly depending on your needs. The procedure may be done for medical reasons, such as alopecia areata, or cosmetic reasons, such as to correct hair loss due to trauma or other causes.

Is A Hair Transplant Painful?

Hair transplant surgery generally does not cause pain because it involves minor incisions and some scalpels for cutting. However, in our clinic at Northwestern Hair, two parts of the procedure can be a little uncomfortable (not painful). Ironically, these are when we inject the numbing medication to make the rest of the procedure painless.

What To Expect With Your Procedure At Northwestern Hair

In the first period, when we’re injecting the pain relief medication to numb you through the entire procedure. While we’re at it, you’re going to feel needles in the back of your scalp and a little bit of a burn as the medication slowly goes in. This process happens early in the day as part of the preparation for your main procedure to follow so your body will have enough time to ease into the necessary numb and painless state in preparation for your procedure. As the medication kicks in, you will go numb and eventually stop feeling anything for the rest of the morning. In the afternoon and a little later after your first injections, we’ll proceed with the second series of injections for another medication in preparation for the graft insertions during your procedure. Again, you can expect to feel some pin-pricks and burning sensations during the process. The process, however, is very short and designed to keep you numb for the rest of the day while your procedure is underway.

Medicating Away The Pain

Finally, once your procedure is completed towards the end of the day and you have brand new hair, we expect your medication to wear off slowly. At this stage, you’ll need to pay attention and inform our team when that dull painless sensation begins translating into a more discrete and sharp experience. This change occurs around the 20-minute mark after your previous medications. We’ll need to re-dose with another medication you will not feel during this time to make the rest of the procedure relatively painless.


While it’s a bit shy of being painless, the procedure is overall relatively safe and straightforward. And while you may still have post-op pain after your surgery, it should be minor. You may feel a pinch during the procedure, but once it’s over, there will be no pain or complications. Before you decide on a transplant, weigh all your options, but don’t get so bogged down in wrong information that you prevent yourself from taking advantage of an excellent procedure.

Schedule a Consult

Interested in hair replacement? Schedule a complimentary consultation with a Northwestern Hair specialist. Choose between comprehensive in-person and convenient virtual consultations.