I by no means thought I’d be getting a hair transplant. However then got here my 30s, and the conclusion that my once-thick pelt was thinning, quick. It occurred across the similar time as ailing knees, slower metabolism, eye baggage, and two-day hangovers. So, as I contemplated simply how gracefully I wished to age, I figured that the hairline was one thing I might management—with just a few measures, together with a hair transplant. I’ll dive into my expertise getting a hair transplant in Turkey, however first, right here’s what led me to doing so. (As a result of I imagine particular person context is essential whenever you study anybody getting a hair transplant.) Then, I’ll define the method itself, and element my ‘earlier than’ and ‘after’ progress.
My particular expertise with hair loss
5 years in the past, at age 29, I reduce my hair from shoulder size to a buzz. My barber mentioned, “Whoa. You’ve misplaced plenty of hair. Like, loads.” He was referring to the 2 huge bald spots on my head (which I misplaced in my mid-20s, as these are vitiligo-induced white spots which thinned and fell sooner than the remaining). He was additionally referring to the truth that my lengthy hair was largely masking up how thinned-out my crown had develop into, together with vital recession on the temples.
I used to be conscious of the recession. And I already suspected the general thinning, since lengthy hair tends to showcase precisely how skinny and recessed your mane has develop into. So I spent the subsequent 5 years hovering between 1-4 inches of hair, by no means longer, by no means shorter. This size allowed me to masks the bald spots, to make use of thickening and volumizing products, and to put on my hair ahead over the recession. However beneath all of that, I used to be extraordinarily insecure about dropping the whole lot.
It’s my job to check grooming merchandise. My hair is my canvas. And, like lots of people, it’s a supply of pleasure, too. I like switching a coiffure to replicate no matter vibe I’m going for, along with altering it up for the sake of “grooming analysis.” Not that any man must rationalize wanting to maintain his hair. The actual motive I wished a transplant was that easy: I don’t wish to lose my hair, interval. I envy these completely content material with going or being bald. And as usually as I inform guys to “merely embrace it,” as a result of confidence is attractive or no matter, I by no means wished to weigh that call.
So I did the whole lot I might to revive the density. (I’ve written about The Most Effective Methods to Regrow Thinning Hair, and I hope you’ll learn that, too, earlier than contemplating a hair transplant.) First was minoxidil and finasteride. The previous helps improve blood movement and nutrient supply, which revives dormant follicles and thickens hair. The latter halts the hormone byproduct which thins hair and suffocates follicles. Minoxidil works primarily for the crown, and finasteride works to cease general loss, whereas particularly stopping recession. I additionally did PRP, whereby your individual plasma is shoot into your scalp to ship development components to the follicles. Admittedly, I did see enhancements after that, although maybe assisted by the dietary supplements.
General, the whole lot labored to cease the recession and to thicken my current hairs—each the density and the person shaft thickness. My dermatologist estimates that, earlier than then, I had misplaced about half the hairs on my crown and, whereas my hair was at all times extraordinarily thick, it was nonetheless evidently thinner than the edges and again of my head. With these three principal steps (the tablets, potion, and plasma), together with being extra cognizant about my well being and hair care, I might posit that about 30 p.c of what was misplaced quickly returned. You might have a window of time the place the dormant follicles can nonetheless regrow “misplaced” hair on the crown, till they dry up and die fully. Possibly 1-3 years, should you’re fortunate. So, in case your hair loss is current, then rapidly seek the advice of along with your dermo, and get began on the precise prescriptions. However bear in mind, you possibly can by no means revive something that’s recessed; you possibly can solely restore crown loss and general density/thickness. As a result of I had waited too lengthy to revive the 2 bald spots (which had been bald for 5 years or so), they have been by no means going to develop again.
I’ve continued utilizing each minoxidil and finasteride every day, with no unwanted effects (although you must monitor finasteride intently, as a result of a small share of males expertise sexual unwanted effects).
Why I selected to get a hair transplant
Merely put, I knew that I might get a hair transplant to convey ahead the recession, and to fill within the bald spots. Hair transplants are extraordinarily inexpensive in Turkey, just a few thousand bucks versus $15-20K within the U.S. or UK, to not point out the market is full of world-class professionals, since Turkey is among the beauty capitals of the world. It’s supply-and-demand economics in the easiest way potential, making the efficient process inexpensive, since no medical insurance is ever gonna cowl the process. Plus, hey, nice excuse to go to Turkey. (Why not add it onto the top of per week in Istanbul or Cappadocia?)
Secondly, I knew that hair transplant expertise is lastly in a spot the place we are able to belief the outcomes to look pure—and I imply very very pure. The gadgets they now use enable for quick restoration, subsequent to no ache, good particular person placement of every hair graft (in order that it grows at a pure angle, as an alternative of vertically, just like the plugs of the ’90s). These fashionable implant pens additionally enable for pure density and unfold of the hairs, granting fullness should you require it (the physician will know the way dense to make it, in order that it appears to be like uniform and pure with the remainder of your hair).
This precision and customization implies that, lastly, hair transplants make sense throughout the board. We’re in all probability a decade or so shy of stem cell transplants, so till then… this can be a unbelievable (and lasting!) resolution—as a result of the hairs they transplant come from the again of your head, and people ones don’t fall out just like the hairs that originate from the highest of your head. So, if you’re additionally diligent about minoxidil and finasteride (not required, however extremely beneficial), with the intention to protect the remainder of your (non-transplanted) hair then you may be taking a look at Pierce Brosnan ranges nicely into your 60s or 70s.
Say it with me: Google, Google, Google. Take a look at the before-and-after outcomes of various locations. Learn how lengthy they’ve been within the enterprise. Get their quotes and estimates, to see if the whole lot is constant from one to the subsequent.
I went with Serkan Aygin, M.D., in Istanbul. For one, the clinic showcased the type of outcomes I wished. Secondly, he had simply gained the award of prime hair transplant surgeon on the European Awards in Medication (since his clinic is within the European facet of Istanbul). The clinic provided good journey packages, which embrace a four-star resort plus non-public transport to and from the airport, in addition to to and from the resort and clinic.
I additionally spoke with Aygin on my Hair Transplant 101 article, which you’ll learn for extra perception on the subject.
[COVID travel note: Turkey remains open to Americans. I live in Germany, but was assured that I could travel safely to Istanbul and find appropriate COVID safety measures along the way. Originally my appointment was set for March 2020, and got cancelled due to the onset of the pandemic. So I was eager and excited to finally get to it in late June, not to mention relieved to find the entire experience comfortable and low-stress.]
The place the transplanted hair comes from: Principally, you don’t lose the hairs on the edges and again of your head. So that is the place they extract the grafts—the “donor space.” Nonetheless, they should assess your hair “high quality,” to see its thickness, and the way lots of the follicles are rising a number of hairs (they’ll develop one to 4 shafts). In case your hair is thick, and if a number of the follicles are producing a number of shafts, then you definitely’re in a really prime state of affairs for a full-coverage transplant (relying on the quantity of thinning and loss). They’ll begin by utilizing pictures of you to find out your candidacy and to foretell what number of grafts they’ll take (and supply a price estimate). However the quantity of grafts might be confirmed onsite when you full the thorough examination, the morning earlier than the transplant.
No extra scars: Fashionable transplant strategies not take a strip of pores and skin from the again of the top. Prior to now decade, this scarring methodology has been deserted, and changed with FUE expertise—follicular unit extraction. The FUE pens are capable of extract particular person grafts, and later implant them at correct density, and on the right 40-ish diploma angle that makes hair transplants look pure. And, by extracting them uniformly across the donor space, it prevents scarring and leaves the again of the hair trying full and completely regular to the bare eye, as soon as the hair grows again out. (Clearly you can not regrow the hairs which have been extracted, since they now stay and are rising on the highest of the top.) However belief me, most of us have a number of hair to donate from the again of our head earlier than anybody will have the ability to discern any distinction.
Drawing the hairline, and counting the grafts: That is all preceded by onsite exams that decide the place to attract your new hairline, and what number of follicles they’ll extract. I acquired 3,000 extracted, and with the a number of shafts on a few of them, that equaled roughly 7,500 hairs. The max in a session is within the 3,000-4,000 vary, and a few guys would possibly require a number of classes, relying on protection wanted. You would possibly require two classes to do that—and so they would possibly must be finished one 12 months aside. However the physician will possible know this earlier than you join something. So, don’t fear, you gained’t be shocked to study on the day of the transplant that you just’ll really require a repeat go to. Nonetheless, many males go for this, figuring out they’ll want a number of rearrangements up prime.
The thrill: They buzz you down, if essential. The DHI methodology (should you’re utilizing it) doesn’t require you to shave fully, and slightly solely the donor space behind the top. (Don’t shave earlier than you arrive, as a result of the hair nonetheless must be a manageable size for his or her pens to extract and implant. They’ll shave you onsite.)
Anesthesia: Subsequent, they administer the anesthesia, each an IV sedative and native injections across the head. This doesn’t harm a lot because it simply feels humorous and crunchy. However the IV sedative additionally helps with the preliminary numbing, in order that the top injections don’t really feel so powerful. They don’t totally knock you out, within the occasion you could talk with them or use the restroom. However, for what it’s price, I slept by means of the whole extraction course of, then stayed mildly awake in the course of the transplant itself.
After extraction: The medical crew examines every hair follicle, and types them based mostly on the variety of hairs rising from every graft. That is in order that they distribute them evenly across the head, as an alternative of by accident providing you with a bunch of four-haired grafts on one facet, and one-haired grafts on the opposite. (The extraction course of takes about one and a half to 3 hours, once more relying on the duty at hand.) The sorting occurs concurrently, so then they flip you over and get began on implantation as quickly because the extraction ends. This half took us about three hours for the three,000 grafts. Actually, as a result of I used to be dozing out and in, it felt like 90 minutes. Towards the top, I actually wished it to be over, extra so as a result of I might really feel them urgent on my head again and again, and was like “OK, sufficient”…. However not due to any ache or something. At the least it felt half so long as it really was.
Painkillers and such: They provide the correct painkillers, antibiotics, and steroids to navigate the subsequent week, and ingestion intervals/directions for every. I solely wanted painkillers for the primary evening, and took them proactively. So, weirdly, I by no means felt any ache from the whole course of, other than the preliminary head injections, which themselves have been delicate. The steroids (4 days) and antibiotics (5 days) aren’t elective. That you must take them to maintain swelling down, and naturally to stop infections.
Swelling: That you must sleep principally upright to additionally maintain the swelling down. Most sufferers will get a swelling band to put on for 3 days, which can include any swelling to the highest of the top. I didn’t get one, since we transplanted just a few hairs on the higher sides of my hair, as nicely, the place I had skilled delicate recession. I fell asleep horizontally one evening, by accident, and the swelling sunk proper down into my face. It was not cute. Any and all swelling goes away after 4 to 5 days.
Publish-op care: The day after the process, you come to the clinic to take off the bandages, and to obtain your ceremonious first wash. In case you go for it, they’ll additionally administer Low Degree Laser Therapy, Mesotherapy (nutrient injections), or PRP (plasma injections) to stimulate development and expedite therapeutic.
On at the present time, the clinic will give you the correct shampoo and lotion to navigate the subsequent few weeks, together with detailed directions for care over the primary two months. The in need of it’s this: For the primary two weeks, you’ll use these particular washes and lotions, and keep away from touching the realm whereas it scabs over. For the primary month, you’ll keep away from sizzling water, excessive water stress, tight hats, haircuts, intense sweating and train, and towel stress. For the primary two months, you’ll keep away from getting direct solar on the realm.
The hairs fall out, as deliberate: After the primary two weeks, the scabs ought to fall off naturally. And, most essential to notice, is the truth that the transplanted hairs will start falling out with the scabs, and over the course of the primary month. After a month, you possibly can buzz down the remaining ones. Every of the transplants experiences “shock loss,” which is pure and anticipated as they alter to their new surroundings. Talking of shock, it’s a bit jarring as you discover 5 – 6 hairs in your fingers each time you contact your head, or whenever you discover tiny hairs in your keyboard over the span of a pair weeks. However this can be a good signal. In case you research the hairs, you’ll discover they don’t have a follicle on the finish of them, as a result of it’s sitting comfortable inside your pores and skin. So, that follicle is now starting its regrowth—the identical as your different hairs, which expertise their very own development cycles earlier than falling and re-growing.
The regrowth part: Inside three or 4 months, you’ll see a number of sprouts arising. By six to eight months, most of them might be rising by means of, maybe slightly skinny but. However by a 12 months, you ought to be seeing the correct density and thickness that’s your full outcome. Within the first few months, chances are you’ll expertise numbness, itchiness, and redness on the scalp. That is to be anticipated, as the whole lot recovers from such a rigorous process (regardless of being a reasonably comfy course of general).
Study extra: Once more, you possibly can learn my Hair Transplant 101 article if you wish to study something extra on the matter.
Right here’s a take a look at my very own course of, up to date because it continues to develop. Please word that the transplant occurred in June 2020, which ought to imply that the hairs have been rising out within the winter, and by now (spring 2021), I ought to have most of my outcomes.
Content material warning: This subsequent part consists of some mid- and post-surgical transplant photos. Please solely proceed should you aren’t queasy seeing any such stuff.
Earlier than Hair Transplant
As talked about, I’ve thick hair and, regardless of having misplaced plenty of it, I’m nonetheless ready to make use of the right products and styling methods to keep hair looking full. (Additionally, I’m a grooming skilled, and it’s type of my job to know the best way to do all that.)
Most individuals I instructed concerning the hair transplant have been shocked I used to be getting one, as a result of all of them thought I had loads of hair. That is a number of smoke and mirrors, as you’ll see from the subsequent photographs, as soon as they shave my hair down. I might need been a much less apparent candidate to the bare eye, however I knew I might profit from the process.
Getting ready for the Process
I arrived the morning of my transplant, and met with Aygin and his crew to evaluate the general high quality and density of my hair (each the donor and recipient areas). He traced the brand new hairline, and did so with the boldness of somebody who has finished it 10,000 occasions, which I assume isn’t a stretch. Aygin decided that my crown thickness was nonetheless dense sufficient that we shouldn’t add extra, much less the implanted hairs hinder and kill off the already wholesome follicles. So we targeted all efforts on the recession and bald spots, and landed on the magic variety of 3,000 grafts. (I might later study that this was about 7,500 precise hairs, within the case of somebody with ample, virile hair shafts like me. I’m so happy with my lil guys.)
Then they shaved me down. I opted for the DHI transplant methodology, which doesn’t require shaving throughout, however I nonetheless wished to, for the sake of taking clear ‘earlier than and after’ pictures. (For you, my reward.)
You’ll be able to see precisely the place they outlined my recipient space, throughout the entrance and on the bald spots. We might later redraw the hairline, proper earlier than the precise implanting.
I’m going to spare you the pictures of the particular extraction and transplant, however right here is one medical employees member fastidiously inspecting my extracted follicles, and counting the variety of hairs on every graft. He types them in order that they are often evenly distributed based mostly on their proliferation.
Between the extraction and the implantation, Aygin once more attracts the hairline. The crew implants hairs alongside this line, with ever-so-slight inconsistencies alongside the way in which in order that it appears to be like pure upon regrowth (slightly than a harsh, straight line).
Right here’s what all of it regarded like instantly after the process: 3,000 grafts, over the entrance of my head and throughout two bald spots. You retain the dressing on the rear for the primary evening, and so they take away it the subsequent morning whereas providing you with the primary wash and elective development remedy.
I acquired a elaborate certificates the subsequent day, certifying the quantity of hairs that have been implanted. It formalizes the process too, in case you expertise something sudden and wish a touch-up or one thing. It makes you are feeling such as you graduated from Vainness College as nicely, so perhaps you possibly can ship it to your mom to border and grasp on her wall. You’ll be able to see my brow is slightly puffy, too, from the swelling. (Since I didn’t put on a swelling band, in contrast to most sufferers.)
After the Hair Transplant: Restoration and Regrowth
Right here’s the regular development of the weeks and months following the transplant.
After One Week: The scabs shaped over the realm, and in an odd method, showcased the place my new hair would develop in. You’ll be able to type of see that they even began to peel at this level—as anticipated. A number of hairs would fall out with the scabs, however I by no means seen any with follicles hooked up to them. These have been simply the early losses, additionally to be anticipated. They’ll every regrow.
After 10 Days: The scabs have been principally off, for the reason that every day lotion purposes (lotion supplied by the clinic) helped soften and heal the realm. Plenty of the hairs are nonetheless there, although sufficient have fallen that you could see some preliminary thinning. It’s more durable for me to see the progress over the bald spots because it progresses (as a result of forest of hair round them), however I used to be relieved to “really feel” the stubbled hairs at this part to notice that they have been certainly there, previous to their falling and regrowth.
After One Month: Plenty of the hairs have now fallen out. A number of sturdy ones by no means totally fell, leaving me with a pair sprouts within the space. I shaved them down with a hair clipper, which is allowed after one month. There was nonetheless some redness and numbness on the scalp, each of which steadily reduce every day transferring ahead. It’s type of bizarre that you could see along with your eyes the place the hairline is drawn, even when the hairs aren’t there. You can too see all of the little holes from the place the hairs are gonna sprout. It’s fascinating, nonetheless, I really feel something however cute. So, it’s HATS for me for a pair months, till my current hair is lengthy sufficient to cowl the transplanted space.
After Two Months: Right here, once more, you possibly can see the place the hairline will develop in. The redness and numbness are each basically gone. (Sporting a hat too lengthy could make the top look slightly purple on the transplanted spot, however it subsides rapidly.) Some sprouts make appearances weekly, and I’ll proceed to trim them again down till they’re in larger numbers. My head appears to be like like a tennis ball, however it feels pointless to get a haircut since I’m sporting hats in public on a regular basis. I feel in one other month or so, I’ll have the ability to ditch the hats and stroll round within the daytime with out worrying if my brow appears to be like humorous. Most of my associates barely appear to note it (particularly those who didn’t know concerning the process, regardless of my telling the world about it). It’s principally me fixating on it. Keep in mind, this can be a fantastically useless course of.
After Three Months: My “common” hair has gotten lengthy sufficient that it might almost cowl the recession if I type it ahead. That is nice as a result of I’ve been buzzing the transplanted hairs down as they develop out—and so they have definitely been rising out. Proper now, I might say perhaps half or two-fifths of the hairs are beginning to peek by means of, and it’s solely been 90 days. I’ll give them one other month or so earlier than I cease buzzing them and allow them to develop up, beneath my “curtains” that I’m now masking them up with. I’m simply ready for the massive majority of them to sprout, and as soon as that occurs (hopefully round Month 4), I’ll allow them to develop to a centimeter lengthy. Then I’ll buzz all of my hair again right down to that centimeter size and needs to be at my excellent “start line” for my new hairline and bald-spot cowl up. As for the bald spots, I can’t actually see something as a result of the hair round them is so lengthy. I can solely belief that they’re rising out with the identical fervor as these front-facing ones. I’ll put up pictures of these at Month 4, too.
After 4 Months: The hairline is admittedly filling in and taking form. It seems that perhaps half or two-thirds of the hairs have sprouted, and I’m letting them develop out totally now, as an alternative of trimming them (since my different hairs have been lengthy sufficient to cowl it in entrance). However now, from the passing eye, it appears to be like like I’ve this nifty new hairline, and it feels unimaginable. Probably the most I can say proper now’s that I’m excited to see how this appears to be like in one more month or three, as a result of the expansion is occurring quick. Please pardon my freshly washed, messy hair—it simply makes it simpler to showcase the hairline when the hair is moist.
After 5 Months: I’m at an odd level within the course of, the place progress is tough to measure. On the one hand, my hairline appears to be like locked and loaded to the bare eye. It actually appears to be like terrific. Then again, think about 7000+ hairs all rising in directly: They’re all extraordinarily skinny and wish one other six to eight months to develop into thicker, fuller, extra cooperative. Whenever you look intently on the hairs, you possibly can see that for now they nonetheless have a lifetime of their very own, type of springing each which method. I haven’t put a lot product on them (which might assist management them), and I’m sporting my hair ahead to nonetheless cowl the realm—although now even my “fringe” appears to be like fuller than earlier than, which I’m appreciating. Dr. Aygin’s crew is pleased with the progress, and says that by late spring or summer time, I needs to be experiencing the total results. I’ll in all probability house out my updates slightly bit, then, since I’m solely going to continue to grow out my hair for just a few months till I’m able to buzz it off and present the true outcomes of this factor. I can solely do this when these hairs are thick and standing upright on their very own.
After Seven Months: I skipped the six-month replace since I nonetheless wasn’t able to buzz down my hair, and displaying you the same-ish photos as Month 5 would have been underwhelming. However now I’m overwhelmed, at Month 7, with how unimaginable this transplant appears to be like. I buzzed all of it right down to see how stuffed in it appears to be like, and wow, my new hairline…
I used to be most impressed with how filled-in the bald spots have been atop my head. Evaluate it once more with the picture earlier than my surgical procedure, the place they “drew” within the transplant recipient areas:
The very best half is that Dr. Aygin’s crew mentioned I nonetheless have extra progress to make—and that after one full 12 months I ought to see the total density of the hairs. I imagine it, too, as a result of earlier than I buzzed down, perhaps 10-20 p.c of the hairs nonetheless appeared particularly skinny and flimsy, as in the event that they wanted extra time to thicken up from their preliminary development spurt. The remainder of the transplanted hairs felt totally thick, although—however I assume they nonetheless have slightly extra ripening to do, too.
General, I can discern with my skilled eye the place the transplant line is drawn in my new hair. It’s barely thicker than my pure hair up prime. However that’s solely as a result of I’m scrutinizing. It appears to be like fully pure, and there aren’t any scars or a visual lack of density within the rear of my head. It appears to be like as if no one ever took any hairs from there (a lot much less 3,000+ grafts and seven,000+ hairs).
I’ll in all probability maintain it quick for some time, earlier than rising it out and actually placing the brand new hairs to check. This buzzed look was the factor I most regarded ahead to with the transplant: A carefree, shaved-down reduce that exhibits no indicators of recession, nor noticeable indicators of thinning at first look.
So, if you would like a superb side-by-side of earlier than and after, I feel these two are good examples. The earlier than is about 18 months prior, after I dyed my hair blond and it had grown out just a few weeks. You’ll be able to actually see the place the hairline is, and the distinction between the entrance wisps and the recession.
After 9 Months: I. Am. So. Pleased. It’s rising in, and thick. The “new” hairs are every fuller and are much more cooperative this previous month. The bald spots are stuffed in, thank God. The density in entrance matches the density within the again (after it’s grown out a centimeter or so). I’m desirous to get it lengthy sufficient to type in numerous methods, however within the meantime, am so happy with the outcomes. I’m confidently displaying them off, too, with no scarcity of accolades from my associates. And I could have already transformed three or 4 of them on the process, every of whom is getting comparable outcomes alongside their very own respective timelines.
Extra quickly: I’ll replace this text with extra progress pictures because the hair continues to develop, nicely into 2021.
[Author Disclaimer: Please contact a board-certified dermatologist regarding your own hair loss (or a certified transplant surgeon), and to discuss your best options. I appreciate all outreach on the topic, but cannot respond with any tips nor with any advice; I myself am not a doctor, nor can I accurately assess your own unique concerns.]
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