Hair Loss: Let’s talk about Hair Transplants

I do have to warn that this will be a longer post…

In February of 2013 we lost a family friend who was 23 years old, my age. He died from Kidney cancer, something he had been diagnosed with 7 years before. He made mistakes, he did things he shouldn’t have, and he hurt people along the way. But, what really got me was the fact that he never even had a chance to fix those mistakes. He was my age. Everyone deserves the chance to be young and stupid, and then fix things as they get older and mature. He didn’t have that chance. At 16, his life was over before it even started.

His death really made me look at my life. For the most part, aside from obesity and things like alopecia, I’m in relatively good health. I am an able bodied person. There’s no reason for me not to fix the things in my life that I can fix. So, I started with signing up for a gym membership. Sadly, I would be consistent for a few months and then stop for a month and then be consistent again. I’m not going to make excuses for myself, because there really is no excuse when my gym is opened 24-7. But, in that year, I have lost 20 pounds.

Another thing that I tried to change was my self image issue. It got to the point that I would wear my hair in headbands and not do anything with it because the thinning was so noticeable. I had more people looking or commenting, and I was feeling lower than ever about it. I would start most days with a shower and a cry. Finally I got tired of being sad and woe is me. I started doing some research and found a plastic surgeon who specializes in Hair Restoration at Johns Hopkins Hospital. I knew that this would be an out-of-pocket expense since the procedure is cosmetic, so I wasn’t sure I could swing the payment. But, after a sit down talk with my parents they convinced me to at least go and talk to the surgeon about the options, and if the cost was too high they would help me out, and I could make payments to them.

So, I scheduled an appointment Dr. Lisa Ishii in August 2013. She was the first person to sit me down and tell me exactly what kind of alopecia I had and how it was completely genetic – it can come from either your mothers side, OR your fathers side. Hair loss is not just a male thing, and it is not something that can be passed down mother to daughter. It can be father to daughter, grandfather to daughter. Whatever. Hair loss is hair loss. She wrote me a prescription for Spironolactone, a blood pressure medication that has been slowing down hair loss in women for over 30 years. She told me that she doesn’t know why it works like that, but it just does. She explained that I will have to take this medication for the next 8 – 10 years, daily. At some point, my hair loss will plateau. We talked about the option of the Hair Transplant surgery and she told me that if I was going to do it, I needed to do so soon. My thinning was no longer just on the top of my head, it was spreading to the back as well. They also took pictures of my hair. The nurse was parting my hair down the middle for the pictures and she just stopped for a minute. “How old are you, hun?” she asked. “24,” I replied back. She just looked at me for a long time and said “I’m so sorry…”.

I left her office that day feeling hopeful and angry. Why had no one, in the 10 years that I had been going to dermatologists and specialists, told me about Spironolactone? Why did no one help me out before my hair because so thin that I’m almost on the verge of not having a hair transplant donor site? I was mad that I had this genetic, uncontrollable condition and any expense was going to be out of pocket. I was just angry, emotional, and hopeful all at the same time. I cried that whole day.

After a week I went about scheduling my hair transplant. I had made the decision that I would do it. First, I needed to find out how much it would cost me. After a little bit of back and forth the price was set at $6,500 – not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I then went to the bank and tried to secure a loan. I was denied. I have no credit to speak of and student loans (i’m still in school). I cried the whole way from the bank to my house, uncontrollably. I know my parents had offered to help me, but there was this part of me that didn’t want to rely on them for something that I want, and don’t need. I wanted to do it on my own. But, that didn’t happen. So, my parents helped me, and I’m making payments to them.

I had my hair transplant on November 26th, 2013, during Thanksgiving break. It was the only time during the semester that both of my classes were canceled because of the holiday. Not to mention, I had to have a weeks worth of recovery time. By doing it during the holiday, I only missed one day of work and no class.

Will continue in separate post

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