I think “final” here is a bit misleading because it can mean final growth or final development. By “development” I mean how the hair continues to change in very subtle ways after all the growth has kicked in and gained any length. Let me explain further…
After undergoing a hair restoration the grafts go through a bit of an adjustment period. Hair has two main growth phases; Anagen (the growing phase) and telogen (the dormant phase). When hair grows it grows continuously for a few years (the number will vary depending on which Dr. you are asking). Once this anagen phase comes to an end the hair goes into the telogen phase. I call it the "recharge phase". During this three to five month period the hair shaft not only stops growing it actually falls out. This can be at any time during the telogen phase and can even happen at the end of the telogen phase due to the new hair regrowing in the old hair’s place and is pushing the old hair out.
For no known reason having a hair transplant actually triggers the telogen phase of a hair follicle’s cycle. This is why with virtually every hair transplant performed the hairs will fall out between three and five weeks post-op. No one knows why this happens but it is perfectly normal and part of what some call the “ugly duckling phase”. You are basically taking five steps backward before you take twenty forward with your new hair.
The hairs usually stay dormant for three to five months but some patients will sprout earlier and an unfortunate few will sprout later. This is a very small percentage of patients, so few in fact that I cannot remember any patients that took this long to start growing. Once the hair starts to sprout it will not come in all at once. There will be some areas that come in sooner than others so in the beginning the new growth and appear rather patchy. This is when the phone calls to the clinic really kick in with questions about the growth.
Usually at about the six month mark a healthy percentage of the hairs have started to poke through. I would wager this to be about 60% but this is very subjective. By eight to ten months is when all of the grafts should have come through and with a decent amount of length of at least one inch or more for most of the grafts.
The debate now moves to anything past the eight to ten month mark. I have recently read that results take at least 18 months to come to fruition. This is not an accurate statement. True, hair characteristics will continue to change/improve well past the one year mark but the full growth should have been realized by the one year mark. Very small and subtle changes continue to take place for months after the initial burst of growth but they are so subtle it takes months just to see the change.
I realize this could have been the actual point by those that say results take a year and a half or more to realize but it should be made more clear that the actual growth comes on a lot sooner than this. Texture and yes even slight color changes do take longer to work themselves out. In the first few months after the growth has really come in the hair can have a kinkier texture than the native hair in the recipient area. This almost always works it’s way out to where the hair softens with time. Any wave that should not be there will also work itself out.
Bottom line, don’t think that it will take a year and a half or longer just to see the change you are looking for. It will happen in less than a year and will be the biggest change you will have. The time afterward is for the very subtle changes that will continue to improve your overall appearance.
Think, Learn, Apply