Hair Loss: Procedure and Progress

I wanted to talk about the actual Hair Transplant in a separate post because I intend to post some of the pictures. Nothing too graphic, but the details may be a little more graphic than some people are used to. Just be aware of it…I don’t want to offend anyone, but this is my reality…

First, let me just say that the nurses/staff at the Dr. Ishii’s office were absolutely fantastic. They clear the day so that you are their only patient and you can have their undivided attention. I got there at 9:30 a.m., filled out the necessary paperwork, and then went into a small room near the front desk. Dr. Ishii came in and told me how the day would go – numb the donor site, remove the donor site, numb the scalp, create incisions on the scalp, and place grafts. All in all this was a 5 1/2 hour procedure and I was awake the entire time.

They marked the back of my head first, marking out a rectangle and cutting the hair short. The numbing was probably the worst part – I think that was the closest I had ever been to passing out. The needles were painful and there were about 12 needles used to numb the donor area – an area of my scalp from ear to ear removed to use for transfer. She left me alone for a few minutes to let the numbing take hold and then she came back to start removing the area. One of the weirdest things I’ve ever experienced in my life is the removal of my scalp. I could feel nothing but pressure and what I thought was water rolling down my neck (take a guess at what it really was). I could hear this tearing sound that made me think of all the times I’ve ripped strips of fabric for crafts. After removing the scalp she cauterized the wound and stapled it shut (now, I’ve only ever had stitches once in my life and I had never had staples. This was pretty weird for me too). Once again, she left me for a minute or two to get myself together and then they moved me to another room.

The next room I was in was about 3 times the size of the smaller room I had been in and there was a surgical chair in the center of the room. There were desks and chairs lined along the left side of me (in the chair) and a tv to the right. They let me pick out a few movies and put in “Top Gun” (when they found out I had never seen it, I no longer had a choice. They made me watch it – not a bad pick lol). Three nurses came in, sat down, and then each took a section of my hair/scalp. They sat in almost complete silence (except to comment on Tom Cruise every now & then) and sliced the scalp into single hair follicles. Dr. Ishii during this time had placed a pillow behind my head and began to numb the top of my scalp where the donor grafts would go. She made over 1,000 incisions in the top of my head during the entire movie. After she finished, the nurses continued working on the grafts, and they gave me lunch. Once the grafts were completed the three nurses stood together and inserted the grafts. That took another 2 hours with Princess Bride playing. This was more uncomfortable than anything, since there was a lot of pressure on the top of my head.

After all was said and done they gave me instructions, shampoo & conditioner to use (5 days later when I was allowed to wash my hair), CPM moist gauze that I had to put on twice a day, and a doubled prescription of Spironolactone. I couldn’t brush or wash my hair for a few days, and when I was finally allowed to wash my hair I had to use a cup because the shower head was too rough. The swelling was insane. I knew that the swelling was supposed to get bad…but it got REALLY bad. I spent a few days on the couch instead of in my own bed so I could stay on one floor – I know I wasn’t injured or anything, but I was emotionally and physically drained and exhausted because of the experience and the medication.

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The top of my scalp. I had a total of 1,200 grafts placed.

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My donor site

I lost a little bit of hair from the shock of the procedure. I had the staples removed the following week and it was impressively healed for it having been just a week. I was nervous about bumping my head on things because 1. the grafts could easily fall out and 2. the back of my head was still numb (actually, as I type this 5 months later, the back of my head is still partially numb) and I was worried I could hurt myself.

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I rocked hats for a few weeks.

I have been trying to document my results on my own with my cell phone for a few months now. I go back in May to do an actual photo comparison with pictures from my first visit to may. But, I wanted to see how it looked before the 6 month visit.

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The picture on the left is from 2 months (February) post surgery, the picture on the right is from yesterday, 5 months post surgery.

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This is my donor site scar. It’s healing nicely! I can wear my hair up without worrying about the scar showing.

The hair is also growing back from the surgery!

So, I’ll leave it at that. Sorry if I bored anyone! I just wanted to share and also get it off my chest. I’m happy – like, very happy. I see results already and even though it’s not much, it makes me feel a little better.

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