5 months with pics

Wow! Six weeks ago I was very concerned with my progress which resulted in a nicely worded e-mail from Larissa asking me to be patient.  Great advice because things have changed since then.  First things first, pictures:

 

5 months view front

The pic above illustrates the first word of this blog: Wow! This is actually the day after my haircut. I thought the stylist went a little too short at first  but I love the way it turned out.  I asked for a number 4 for the back and sides.  No scar can be detected.

5 months view side

More of a side view.

 

5 months view side 2

The other side.

Now for the good stuff. I can’t believe the compliments I’ve been receiving.  Remember, I’ve told no one I know of my procedure.  The compliments range from:

“You look younger, did you get a haircut?” “You look better and I don’t know why.” “I didn’t know Tom Cruise had a twin (joking lol).”

Actually, a  colleague mentioned to me that the clean cut George Clooney look suits me.  On top of that, my confidence is through the roof.  I can actually part my hair like I did when I was in my teens.

The above pics in my mind don’t do me justice.  I’ve reinvested in me by not only getting this procedure but looking after my skin better.  Moisturizer and sun screen should be on everyone’s shopping list.   I feel like a new man.  Baseball caps have now become a thing of the past.  Still wear one to play golf though but no more on casual Fridays.  There’s also no need to back out of hanging out with friends because of my receding hairline and the fear of someone making a joke about it.

I was looking at my pre-op pics as I’m editing this entry and I can’t believe the difference.  Like night and day.  I must admit, the first 4 months post op went by slow.  This past month showed such a significant cosmetic change that I can feel the pace picking up.  Also, changes for me didn’t happen on a daily or weekly basis.  I felt like every two to three weeks I would see small changes.  It’s now culminated into what I hoped for.

I know I have 7 more months of growth but I don’t think I’m being presumptuous here by saying thank you to Dr. Rahal and his team.  This has exceeded my expectations thus far.  For those of you who are still on the fence about getting this procedure done, don’t be.  Just put your scalp in Dr. Rahal’s hands and you’ll be good to go.

 

 

3 month and 3 weeks: An exchange between myself and Patient Care Manager, Larissa.

I have to admit, I was concerned up to a few weeks ago that my hair wasn’t further along than I thought it should be.  My anxiety came from patients blogs who were experiencing significant growth at close to the 4 months mark.  I have to thank Larissa, Dr. Rahal’s Patient Care Manager for putting my mind at ease.  I e-mailed her about my concerns and why my hair isn’t sprouting as quickly as some of the other patients.  Here’s an edited excerpt:

From me to Larissa:

“I’m not seeing that much of an improvement from April 9 (3 months mark) to now.  I’m a little worried. I was hoping to see this amazing growth spurt.  I was looking at the success stories at Rahal’s site the other night and there was one client on there who showed amazing results going into his 4th month. I’m a week away from the 4 months mark and I’m just a little worried.  I know it’s just my insecurities working overtime but I imagined more hair by now.  Are there any cases where the clients hair growth kicked in at the 4, 5 or even 6 months mark?  I know everyone’s results will manifest at different times but need a little reassurance.  I’m not using minoxidyl/rogaine and maybe that’s why my hair isn’t growing as fast as some clients?”

From Larissa to me:

“So first I’d like to reassure you that you have absolutely nothing to worry about! You are only just coming up to your 4 month mark. At this stage, you really aren’t suppose to be seeing much growth at all! For those patients who are seeing a lot of growth at this point, those are the lucky (rare) few, with advanced results. Unfortunately there is no scientific evidence yet to help us understand why some patients see results earlier on than others. For now our best guess is that every patient’s body is different, so the way that their blood circulations and stimulates growth all varies, and can play a part in having hair growth earlier on.

I’d also like to reassure you that you are not the only one in this boat. Yes you may see some patients who at 4 months post op are posting online about how great their growth is at that stage, but what you aren’t seeing is the 100’s of other patients who are having extremely little growth at the 4 month mark. Of course no one wants to post online at 4 months that they are not experiencing much growth yet, so what’s left online for everyone to consult is not the actual average of what patients are experiencing at 4 months post op. I honestly wish more people posted at 4 months that their growth is still slow and they aren’t seeing much yet, because that is more realistic than other patients who are experiencing early growth more rapidly.

I get it quite often; patients call me around the 4-4 1/2 month mark, worried that they aren’t seeing good results yet. Unfortunately, the hair needs time to grow, and the way the hair grows in is slow, and thin at first, and then thickens up over time in the later months. It would be nice to wake up one morning and had all the hairs grown in, but unfortunately it is a slow process, which is why the growth period lasts from 3 months post op to 12 months post op.

It’s unpredictable as to when patients will experience a growth spurt. Some experience in the earlier months (6 months or less) while others experience it in the later months (6-12 months post op). It is true that since you are not using Minoxidil, you may not be seeing early rapid growth. Minoxidil increases the blood flow to the scalp, to nourish the hairs and promote the growth. Not using Minoxidil will not hinder your results, but it is possible it may take more time for the hairs to grow in, since they are not experiencing this increase in blood flow to your scalp.”

Thank you, Larissa. This really did help put my mind at ease.

 

 

 

3 months with pics

Hi all; I haven’t updated for the past 2 months only because there has been nothing unusual about my progress…being lazy doesn’t help either.  Now that I’m at the magical 3 months mark, I think it’s time for an update.  Plus, information is key when it comes to this procedure and if it weren’t for other patients posting, I wouldn’t have had the courage to go through with it.  I’m paying it forward.

My recipient hair started to shed about a month in….nothing unusual there.  Donor area is still itchy and some slight numbness remains but nothing to complain about.  Larissa (patient care adviser) recommended applying aloe vera gel to the donor area which I’ll be purchasing tomorrow (thank you, Larissa).

I haven’t told a soul that I had the procedure.  I have been hiding under hats and lies for the past 3 months.  The only good thing about the cold weather we’ve been having here in Toronto is that I’ve been able to wear a toque all day at work.  One piece of advice: If anyone wanted to hide this procedure for whatever personal reasons they have, get it done in the colder months.

I didn’t find the 3 months to go by really fast as other patients have mentioned in their blogs.  I’m just glad to be into the next phase.  As Larissa put it, this is where the magic happens.

I like how Dr. Rahal framed my face.  I know that if all goes well over the next few months I’m going to be one happy customer.  Dr. Rahal extended my receding hairline at the very front by about half an inch and then he filled in the corners.  He also put some graphs at the side which I’m thankful for. That area was getting a little sparse.  Right now, my native hair has grown back at a good length and I’m able to cover the recipient area by towel drying it forward.  Not a bad look with short hair.  The recipient area kind of looks like (for lack of a better term) a five 0′ clock shadow.

I’m still wearing hats.  I’m not sure if I should chance a hair cut to blend in my native hair to my recipient area (might make it look worse) or I should just wait for the next few months to go by for some real growth.  I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

My apologies on the quality of my pics.  Done with my outdated blackberry.

3 months in front view

above pic:  you can kind of see the 5 o’ clock shadow I referred to earlier.  I actually got compliments when I took my hat off outside of the office lol.  I play badminton after work and a buddy of mine said nice haircut dude.  I just stood there and laughed.

3 months in side view

above pic (sorry for the blurry shot): I’m holding back my native hair and you can see where the recipient area starts and ends.  Dr. Rahal extended the hairline by about half an inch (maybe a quarter to some) and filled in the corners.  When the new hair finally sprouts it should look fantastic (fingers crossed).

3 month in left side view

above pic: a look at my left side.  I don’t believe that’s growth (not sure) but Larissa had mentioned some of the hairs will take and not shed.  I’m thinking that’s what those few hairs are.  If you look close at the side of my temple, you can see where Dr. Rahal transplanted some hair.

I’ll post at the 4 months mark…hopefully.

Day 31 – Just some tips (no pics)

I was asked recently by one of Dr. Rahal’s staff if I had any tips or what I would have done differently.  Below is my response to her (with a few modifications).

The one tip I would give all patients is to take at the very least 1 week off from work for multiple reasons. If you can take 2 weeks off, the more power to you.  Here’s a list as to some of the reasons why you should take some time off.

1.) I didn’t want to risk dislodging any grafts.  My belief is the less you’re outside moving around, you mitigate your chances of harming your recipient area.

2.) Your recipient area looks somewhat hideous.  Also, if you shaved your whole head, your FUT scar is noticeable and that’s not a sexy look. If you didn’t shave your whole head (like me), you look like Larry from The Three Stooges.

3.) The post op routine keeps you somewhat busy.  I was diligent when it came to spraying the saline solution every 2 hours.  If you’re at work it would be easy to forget this step if your day got busy.  The donor area could get itchy so taking a shower to clean it and reapplying Polysporin helped ease this discomfort.  I don’t think everyone has access to a shower at work.

4.) My sleeping routine was disrupted because I had to sleep at a 45 degree angle for the first 5 nights.  Plus, the FUT scar would itch and burn at times.  I needed that time off to nap during the day to make up for the sleep I lost the previous night.

5.) You just had a semi-invasive procedure.  Give yourself some time to heal in the comfort of your own home.

I wasn’t really caught off guard in terms of what to expect after surgery.  There are so many detailed blogs out there that it would be a crime to go into this surgery without some knowledge.  Of course, reading about a patients experience is a lot different when experiencing it for yourself.

If I had to do this over again, I would opt for FUE.  The discomfort of the scar and hiding it from everyone makes the healing process feel that much longer.  I just wish FUE wasn’t so pricey.

Day 21 – with pics

Today is actually day 31 but below are day 21 pics.  I’m just getting around to posting them.

On day 21, I shaved down my native hair.  I mistakenly used a #2 guard on my clippers when I should have used a #3.  I didn’t realize it until after I shaved off a good chunk of my native hair (you live you learn).  I think I set myself back a week to 10 days in terms of growth with this error.

Day 21 – front view

As I mentioned at the top of this entry, today is day 31 so a lot of that recipient hair at the front is now gone (to be expected).

Day 21 - front view

 

Day 21 – scar

I wasn’t horrified when I finally saw the scar. It’s a thin line which I’m sure will fade to a degree with healing. The scar does go around to the other side.  I still needed to clean up some of the native hair with my trimmer.  Not the best pic…sorry.

Day 21 - scar

Day 17 – with pics

I didn’t get my stitches removed until day 15.  The doctor who removed them just kept complaining.  It was hard for him to distinguish between my hair and the black thread Dr. Rahal used.  He asked why Dr. Rahal didn’t use a blue thread or some other color.  I couldn’t care less at this point.  After 20 minutes, they were out and I went to work right after.

I didn’t take a regular shower until day 16.  I know I’m being over cautious but the extra 2 days didn’t bother me.

I still have numbing and tightness in the donor area but it gets better every 3 days or so.  I’m still applying  Polysporin to the scar after my two a day showers.  It soothes the area as it can get a little itchy from time to time.

Other than that it’s business as usual with the exception of working out.  There has been an upside to that in that I’m being extra careful not to consume a lot of calories in a day.  I don’t want to add unnecessary weight during this semi-hibernation.   Green smoothies are now my go to meal.

Below is what my head looks like after a shower on day 17.  I’m still air drying the recipient area.  I will be getting my haircut this week.

day 17 - frontal view

 

day 17 - side view

 

 

Day 11 – with pics

I thought I would take a few pics of my progress so far.  I like what I’m seeing.  It’s scabbed over quite nicely and I notice a lot of flakes.  I’m sure the grafts are firmly rooted but as per nurse Mike’s instructions, I can’t touch/shower the scalp until the 14 day mark.  I did some research and Dr. Bernstein has stated that the grafts are firmly in place after the 9 day mark.  Some doctors say 3 to 5 days.  I noticed on the message boards that doctors do vary with their post op instructions.  I had my procedure with Dr. Rahal so I’ll just stick to his.

The only discomfort is in the donor area.  It feels numb and tight but I know it will go away in time.

I went back to work today.  No one knows I’ve had the procedure so I told my colleagues that I slipped on ice and my skull required stitches.  Some staff asked to see it but I just said it looks hideous because my scalp was shaved before it was stitched up.  Sort of true.  I wore my surgical cap with a loose fitting hat over it and it was business as usual.  That white lie allows me to wear my cap for a while longer with no questions ask.

I really want to pick that scab at the front of my scalp but won’t touch it until day 14.  I’m sure it will fall off before then.  I like the way Dr. Rahal framed my face.  I don’t want to lose these tiny hairs but I know they’ll fall out soon.

Day 11 - front view

I’m glad Dr. Rahal put grafts on both sides.  It was getting thin in that area.

Day 11 - Side view 2

 

Day 11 - side view

Day 8 – no pics

I have followed all post op instructions to the letter.  Keeping the recipient area moist must be important because you’re asked to spray it down with a saline solution every 2 hours when awake.

I took 8 business days off from work (plus 2 weekends)  so I’ve been holed up at my place for over a week.  I’m going a little stir crazy but it’s all worth it to try and attain the best possible result.  I have not put on a baseball cap but will be doing so when I head back to work on Monday.  I do wear the surgical cap when I have to pay for takeout at the door.

The donor area can get a bit itchy but the Polysporin helps with that.   The recipient area looks like it’s healing so no worry there.  The numbness and tightness have not gone away but I didn’t expect it to. I know that will take some time.

I can’t wait for next Thursday to have my stitches removed.  It will mark the important 2 week mark where my life can get back to being somewhat normal.  At that point, I’ll be able to take a real shower, no more saline solution to spray every 2 hours, I can try and even out my hair with a hair cut.

My biggest tip for the first week is don’t do much.  Just let your scalp heal and follow all post op instructions.  After all, I’m sure most of us paid a king’s ransom for this procedure so do what it takes to get your money’s worth.

Pictures will be coming soon.

 

Dr. Rahal, his staff and Brookline

I have read so many positive reviews regarding all things Dr. Rahal that I felt it only fitting that I add my 2 cents…plus I’m having trouble falling asleep so I have some free time lol.

Dr. Rahal:

I think I spoke to Dr. Rahal to what amounted to 10 minutes of conversation. He came across as very professional.  Plus the feedback and write ups from these blogs made me feel as if I’ve known Dr. Rahal for a while now.

Dr. Rahal’s staff:

If a business needed a template on how to dole out exceptional customer service, this is where they should start.  No question was too trivial, feedback was quick and the staff was only willing to help.  When I was there, I was often asked how I was doing. Asking if I needed a bottle of water went a long way with me.  It’s always the small things that leave an impression with most people. Mike, the head nurse and the surgical team that worked on me provided excellent bedside care.  I had some anxiety going into this procedure but I was put at ease right away when I got to the clinic.  A +.

Brookline:

I highly recommend Brookline for a few simple reasons.  In no particular order.

The only clients that can stay at Brookline have to be booked with Dr. Rahal (you are allowed a guest). You’re not going to find newlyweds on their honeymoon staying there.  Plus, who would have their honeymoon in Ottawa? Not my best joke.  As soon as I got there, I was able to talk to and commiserate with other patients regarding the effects of hair loss, first hand review of products that may or may not be working and just flat out joke about the whole thing.  Plus, you don’t have to hide in your room after your procedure as we’re all there about to sport the same hair style.

All the rooms have a solid, automatic recliner for recovering after surgery. Remember, you have to sleep at a 45 degree angle after your procedure to reduce the swelling.

The proximity is within 10 minutes walking distance.  fyi: When I was there, I heard that the clinic is moving to a new location by mid Feb. 2014.  This will obviously effect the proximity factor.  Not sure if Dr. Rahal will setup a convalescent home close to his new facility.

Consultation quote vs. Dr. Rahal’s quote

I had my initial consultation with one of Dr. Rahal’s consultants in July of 2013. He quoted me 3000 grafts;  2500 for my hairline and 500 for my crown.   Both FUT and FUE were quoted and based on price…I went with FUT.  I was aware of both procedures and because I don’t wear my hair particularly short and the price was cheaper, FUT seemed like the ideal choice for me.

It was the day of my surgery when I first met Dr. Rahal.  I thought all that was left was for him to draw in my new hair line, ask me if I had any questions and start the procedure.  He informed me that I would need another 300 grafts to complete the hair line and that he would not be able to work on the crown.  I was somewhat crushed.  Mind you, if I met with him a day earlier it would have had time to sink in but my surgery was an hour away.  I was asked to see the receptionist to pay for the extra 300 grafts (approx. $1000).  This payment caught me off guard but it was quickly justified.  I was more disappointed not getting the coverage I was promised.

Just a heads up for those clients who did not have their consultation with Dr. Rahal.