Month 12: Final Result!

Well… it’s now one year since I travelled to Hasselt in Belgium and underwent a 2600 FUE hair transplant with Dr Feriduni. It’s crazy how fast the time has flown! I’m happy to announce that the procedure was a success and I’m incredibly satisfied with my “final result”. Here is a recent picture:

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Some patients note changes beyond the 12 month mark, so I will continue monitoring my hair and update if there are further changes.

While I’ve blogged in detail about my progress during the year, I haven’t discussed how my hair transplant has made me feel. After having a hair transplant, it’s astonishing how quickly you forget anxieties about your hair; they diminish such that one day you recall it in much the same way you would a bad dream. As my hair has grown, my worries have diminished. No longer do I consider the rain and wind enemies, and no longer do I check the mirror at every given opportunity to check that my receded hairline is not exposed to the world. Emotionally, it has been a transformative experience, giving me more confidence to face the challenges in my life and achieve my goals

I want to thank you all for your continued interest in this blog and for all of the positive feedback I’ve received. By coming here and interacting with me, you encourage me to keep doing what I’m doing, which is providing impartial information about my experience to people who are in the same position I was in. So often men fall victim to an industry that takes advantage of our insecurities, and I believe that the only way to tackle this is by sharing our experiences.

Finally, I am travelling to see Dr Feriduni in Hasselt at the end of this month for a review of my procedure. I am considering asking some reader questions whilst I’m there, assuming he agrees. With that in mind, if there is anything you’d like me to ask, either about surgery in general or with a view to your own hair transplant, please prepare your questions for me to take. In addition, I am planning an anniversary photo shoot, as well as video and other content to really show the result close-up in high-definition, as I know how scarce that material is. I’m also looking forward to moving beyond my own personal experience, as this blog has now met, and even exceeded, its initial goals.

Month 2

Day 60: #Selfpic

I thought I’d share a selfpic of how I look at Day 60. My native hair has grown back quite a lot, and the newly transplant recipient area looks kinda fuzzy.

Of course, it’s still very early days, but I’m encouraged by my progress and will hopefully be able to rely less on my cap within a few weeks.

Week 2

It’s now two weeks since I had surgery with Dr Feriduni in Belgium. I’ve taken some photos to show my progress. As you can see, the recipient area is healing nicely. Most of the scabs have fallen off during the last few days, and the skin has a healthy pink tone.

As anticipated some of the Follicular Units (FU’s) have fallen out, so the density of the recipient area does not quite match that of the native hair – and that will remain the case until new hairs begin to grow through. This is to be expected, as at this stage, hairs in the recipient area begin to shed, paving the way for newer, stronger hairs to grow in their place.

Healing in the donor area has been very fast; any sign of surgery is fading quickly. FUE really is extraordinary.

Day 8: Shock Loss

A few days ago, my flatmate commented on a thin line at my temples. I checked it out and evaluated that it looks to be “shock loss”, a common side effect of hair surgery. Shock loss is the result of trauma to native hair next to incisions made by the surgeon, causing them to weaken and fall out. Fortunately they normally return after a few months, so it’s nothing to worry about.

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Day 4: Post Op Care

Post op care is extremely important. Following surgery, Dr Feriduni told me “the rest is up to you”, however I was adequately prepared with (from left to right) a bandana, neck pillow, vitamin E spray and finistil.

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It’s important to use the neck pillow for the first week following surgery. I propped myself up with several cushions.

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I was given an information pack, that contains two charts in particular which I found very useful for tracking my progress and ensuring I was sticking to the advice of my clinic.

I find it helpful to tick each day off as I progress.

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If you adhere to the instructions, you really can’t go wrong. My doctor was on hand if I needed any further help, which was pretty reassuring.

Day 0: Back at the Radisson Blu

For the remainder of the day I was instructed to leave my scalp uncovered, and was therefore keen to return to my hotel room, avoiding any non-essential human contact. I was instructed to return to the clinic the following morning, and a taxi was arranged.

 

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You are provided with every product you need to look after your scalp and treat pain, even a neck pillow to aid sleeping – as you must be upright for the first 5 days.

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Day 0: Surgery

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I was taken to have my hair shaved by one of the attending medical team. The staff at the clinic are all exemplary professionals and very friendly; Dr Feriduni’s philosophy is ‘The patient is King’, and I was certainly made to feel as such. Despite having dedicated a lot of time and money to the operation and travelling to Belgium, the buzz of electric shaver felt very decisive. I realised that this was “it”. That said, I did not have a single doubt in my head that surgery was exactly what I wanted to do. I was confident, comfortable and excited. After my scalp was washed, I was then taken into the room where the operation would take place.

The first part of the procedure is the harvesting of follicular units. I was given anaesthetic shots, which were sharp in pain but quickly passed. I was then guided to lying face down in a horizontal position with my head positioned so that it was secure to limit movement. I was told I could sleep as this part of the process would take several hours, but as evidenced by the blood pressure monitor, I was quite anxious and therefore lay fully awake the whole time. Two medical assistants plucked grafts, each by my side, as the radio quietly played in the background. Post op I was informed that I bled a lot and I remember a lot of swabbing – however this is deemed a good thing, as it means blood flow is healthy.

The second part of the process is the most crucial, and Dr Feriduni assumed full control. Incisions are placed in order for the grafts to be planted. The best way to describe this experience is imagining your head is a baked potato being pricked prior to baking… although 2600+ times. That said, there is no pain whatsoever, thanks to the miracle of needles to the scalp – although swelling is the price for this and comes a few days later… An assistant stood next to my doctor, swabbing blood and counting multiples of one hundred. Prior to this stage of the operation, I was asked if I would like to watch a movie. I scrolled through countless Pixar-esque movies, finally settling on Total Recall at the very bottom of the list. I learned a few things quickly after this; first, Colin Farrell has a very good hairline; second, the violence and nudity of Total Recall is probably not the ideal ambience for an operation of the nature. I sheepishly asked for the movie to be turned off, and opted for no movie, no music – just silence. Dr Feriduni noted that my blood pressure was still high and told me he was administering more drugs that would make me feel like I’d drank a few glasses of wine. Sounded good to me.

At around incision 1400, I realised my bladder was full and despite my best efforts, would not hold out for 1200+ more incisions. I asked the doctor if I could make a toilet trip, and while it did interrupt the flow of the operation, there was simply no choice. I was escorted to the toilets, and quickly relieved myself, before washed my hands thoroughly and returning to the chair to resume and complete the incisions.

My doctor examined his work and said he thought I’d look like the actor from Titanic when my hair grows in. A medical assistant suggested I was more like Justin Timberlake; I had no argument with either!

It was then onto the third and final part of the procedure: implanting the grafts. The medical staff wheeled trolleys with sheets of my grafts all neatly laid out and soaked in a sterile solution. It a rather surreal experience seeing parts of your body all carefully laid out on trays in front of you, perhaps some sort of freakish buffet at the Masquerade Ball I had imagined earlier. The grafts had all been examined for quality and separated into I’s, II’s and III’s. I was reassured that everything had gone very well due to the softness of my skin, and that it would be beneficial to perform the last part of the operation as soon as possible. I was happy to skip lunch, and was instead given a drip, some chocolate bars and water to wash it down with. I was administered more medication and finally blanked out, sleeping soundly for about 30 mins to an hour, waking once again with a full bladder. At this point, there were two assistants either side of me were inserting grafts into my hairline. I was told that they were about 600 grafts away from being done. My bladder could not hold, so I asked if I could make another toilet trip. I was frustrated with myself, but the assistants told me that the drips had supplied a litre of water, so this was quite understandable.

The operation was soon completed and I was taken back into my private room where my friend was waiting, as well as my sandwich and some fruit. Dr Feriduini visited the room for a post op review and told me that everything had gone perfectly – that the donor area was plentiful and generous in terms of II’s and III’s, the incisions were easy, and that the grafts were high quality and not outside of the body for long. He promised that he is always honest when evaluating a procedure post-op, so I felt very happy.

Before Surgery

I’ve had some requests from readers to put up some photos of my hairline before my hair transplant. I think perhaps I’ve been reluctant to do so, because it makes me feel a little vulnerable and exposed, and I’m sure many of you will relate with that. Nevertheless, here are some photos taken on my day of surgery, back on day zero – February 25th 2013.