I by no means thought I’d be getting a hair transplant. But 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. (Because I imagine particular person context is necessary if you study anybody getting a hair transplant.) Then, I’ll define the method itself, and element my ‘before’ and ‘after’ progress.
My particular expertise with hair loss
Five years in the past, at age 29, I minimize my hair from shoulder size to a buzz. My barber mentioned, “Whoa. You’ve lost a lot of hair. Like, a lot.” He was referring to the 2 large 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 protecting up how thinned-out my crown had turn out to be, together with important 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 turn out to be. 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. But beneath all of that, I used to be extraordinarily insecure about dropping every part.
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 research.” 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 “simply embrace it,” as a result of confidence is attractive or no matter, I by no means wished to weigh that call.
So I did every part 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 former helps improve blood circulation 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 total 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.
Overall, every part 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 foremost 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 have a window of time the place the dormant follicles can nonetheless regrow “lost” hair on the crown, till they dry up and die completely. Maybe 1-3 years, should you’re fortunate. So, in case your hair loss is current, then shortly seek the advice of along with your dermo, and get began on the proper prescriptions. But keep in mind, you possibly can by no means revive something that’s recessed; you possibly can solely restore crown loss and total density/thickness. Because I had waited too lengthy to revive the 2 bald spots (which had been bald for 5 years or so), they had been by no means going to develop again.
I’ve continued utilizing each minoxidil and finasteride every day, with no unwanted effects (although you need to monitor finasteride carefully, as a result of a small proportion of males expertise sexual unwanted effects).
Why I selected to get a hair transplant
Simply put, I knew that I might get a hair transplant to deliver 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 execs, since Turkey is without doubt one of the beauty capitals of the world. It’s supply-and-demand economics in the easiest way attainable, 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 tip of every week in Istanbul or Cappadocia?)
Secondly, I knew that hair transplant know-how is lastly in a spot the place we are able to belief the outcomes to look pure—and I imply very very pure. The units they now use enable for quick restoration, subsequent to no ache, excellent particular person placement of every hair graft (in order that it grows at a pure angle, as a substitute 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 understand how 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, in case you are additionally diligent about minoxidil and finasteride (not required, however extremely advisable), to be able to protect the remainder of your (non-transplanted) hair then you might be Pierce Brosnan ranges effectively into your 60s or 70s.
Say it with me: Google, Google, Google. Look on the before-and-after outcomes of various locations. Find out how lengthy they’ve been within the enterprise. Get their quotes and estimates, to see if every part is constant from one to the subsequent.
I went with Serkan Aygin, M.D., in Istanbul. For one, the clinic showcased the form of outcomes I wished. Secondly, he had simply received the award of high hair transplant surgeon on the European Awards in Medicine (since his clinic is within the European facet of Istanbul). The clinic supplied good journey packages, which embody a four-star lodge plus non-public transport to and from the airport, in addition to to and from the lodge 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.]
Where the transplanted hair comes from: Basically, 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 area.” Still, they should assess your hair “quality,” to see its thickness, and the way lots of the follicles are rising a number of hairs (they will develop one to 4 shafts). If your hair is thick, and if plenty of the follicles are producing a number of shafts, you then’re in a really prime scenario for a full-coverage transplant (relying on the quantity of thinning and loss). They’ll begin by utilizing images of you to find out your candidacy and to foretell what number of grafts they’ll take (and supply a value estimate). But the quantity of grafts will likely be confirmed onsite when you full the thorough examination, the morning earlier than the transplant.
No extra scars: Modern transplant strategies now not take a strip of pores and skin from the again of the top. In the previous decade, this scarring technique has been deserted, and changed with FUE know-how—follicular unit extraction. The FUE pens are capable of extract particular person grafts, and later implant them at correct density, and on the appropriate 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 wanting full and completely regular to the bare eye, as soon as the hair grows again out. (Obviously you can’t regrow the hairs which were extracted, since they now reside and are rising on the highest of the top.) But belief me, most of us have plenty of hair to donate from the again of our head earlier than anybody will be capable of discern any distinction.
Drawing the hairline, and counting the grafts: This is all preceded by onsite exams that decide the place to attract your new hairline, and what number of follicles they’ll extract. I bought 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 should be completed one 12 months aside. But the physician will seemingly know this earlier than you join something. So, don’t fear, you received’t be stunned to study on the day of the transplant that you simply’ll truly require a repeat go to. Still, many males go for this, understanding they’ll want plenty of rearrangements up high.
The buzz: They buzz you down, if crucial. The DHI technique (should you’re utilizing it) doesn’t require you to shave completely, and moderately solely the donor space at the back of 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: Next, 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. But the IV sedative additionally helps with the preliminary numbing, in order that the top injections don’t really feel so robust. They don’t absolutely knock you out, within the occasion it’s good to talk with them or use the restroom. But, for what it’s price, I slept by means of your entire extraction course of, then stayed mildly awake through the transplant itself.
After extraction: The medical staff examines every hair follicle, and types them primarily based on the variety of hairs rising from every graft. This is in order that they distribute them evenly across the head, as a substitute of unintentionally 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. Honestly, as a result of I used to be dozing out and in, it felt like 90 minutes. Toward the tip, I actually wished it to be over, extra so as a result of I might really feel them urgent on my head time and again, and was like “OK, enough”…. But not due to any ache or something. At least it felt half so long as it truly 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 night time, and took them proactively. So, weirdly, I by no means felt any ache from your entire course of, apart from the preliminary head injections, which themselves had been gentle. The steroids (4 days) and antibiotics (5 days) aren’t non-compulsory. You must take them to maintain swelling down, and naturally to stop infections.
Swelling: You must sleep principally upright to additionally hold the swelling down. Most sufferers will get a swelling band to put on for 3 days, which is able to comprise 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 effectively, the place I had skilled gentle recession. I fell asleep horizontally one night time, unintentionally, and the swelling sunk proper down into my face. It was not cute. Any and all swelling goes away after 4 to 5 days.
Post-op care: The day after the process, you come back to the clinic to take off the bandages, and to obtain your ceremonious first wash. If you go for it, they will additionally administer Low Level Laser Treatment, Mesotherapy (nutrient injections), or PRP (plasma injections) to stimulate development and expedite therapeutic.
On today, the clinic will offer 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 scorching water, excessive water strain, tight hats, haircuts, intense sweating and train, and towel strain. 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 necessary 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. Each of the transplants experiences “shock loss,” which is pure and anticipated as they alter to their new surroundings. Speaking of shock, it’s a bit jarring as you discover 5 or 6 hairs in your fingers each time you contact your head, or if you discover tiny hairs in your keyboard over the span of a pair weeks. But this can be a good signal. If you examine the hairs, you’ll discover they don’t have a follicle on the finish of them, as a result of it’s sitting cosy 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 section: Within three or 4 months, you’ll see plenty of sprouts arising. By six to eight months, most of them will likely be rising by means of, maybe slightly skinny but. But by a 12 months, you have to be seeing the correct density and thickness that’s your full consequence. In the primary few months, it’s possible you’ll expertise numbness, itchiness, and redness on the scalp. This is to be anticipated, as every part recovers from such a rigorous process (regardless of being a reasonably snug course of total).
Learn extra: Again, you possibly can learn my Hair Transplant 101 article if you wish to study something extra on the matter.
Here’s a have a look at my very own course of, up to date because it continues to develop. Please observe that the transplant occurred in June 2020, which ought to imply that the hairs had been rising out within the winter, and by now (spring 2021), I ought to have most of my outcomes.
Content warning: This subsequent part consists of some mid- and post-surgical transplant pictures. Please solely proceed should you aren’t queasy seeing any such stuff.
Before 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. (Also, I’m a grooming skilled, and it’s form of my job to know how you can do all that.)
Most individuals I instructed concerning the hair transplant had been stunned I used to be getting one, as a result of all of them thought I had loads of hair. This is plenty of smoke and mirrors, as you’ll see from the subsequent pictures, 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.
Preparing for the Procedure
I arrived the morning of my transplant, and met with Aygin and his staff 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 completed it 10,000 occasions, which I suppose 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 centered 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 pleased with my lil guys.)
Then they shaved me down. I opted for the DHI transplant technique, which doesn’t require shaving throughout, however I nonetheless wished to, for the sake of taking clear ‘before and after’ images. (For you, my present.)
You can see precisely the place they outlined my recipient space, throughout the entrance and on the bald spots. We would later redraw the hairline, proper earlier than the precise implanting.
I’m going to spare you the images of the particular extraction and transplant, however right here is one medical workers member rigorously analyzing my extracted follicles, and counting the variety of hairs on every graft. He types them in order that they are often evenly distributed primarily based on their proliferation.
Between the extraction and the implantation, Aygin once more attracts the hairline. The staff implants hairs alongside this line, with ever-so-slight inconsistencies alongside the best way in order that it appears to be like pure upon regrowth (moderately than a harsh, straight line).
Here’s what all of it appeared like instantly after the process: 3,000 grafts, over the entrance of my head and throughout two bald spots. You hold the dressing on the rear for the primary night time, and so they take away it the subsequent morning whereas providing you with the primary wash and non-compulsory development therapy.
I bought a elaborate certificates the subsequent day, certifying the quantity of hairs that had 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 Vanity School as effectively, so perhaps you possibly can ship it to your mom to border and cling on her wall. You can 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: Recovery and Regrowth
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 can form of see that they even began to peel at this level—as anticipated. A couple of hairs would fall out with the scabs, however I by no means seen any with follicles connected to them. These had been simply the early losses, additionally to be anticipated. They’ll every regrow.
After 10 Days: The scabs had been principally off, because the every day lotion purposes (lotion supplied by the clinic) helped soften and heal the realm. Lots of the hairs are nonetheless there, although sufficient have fallen that you would be able to 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 “feel” the stubbled hairs at this section to notice that they had been certainly there, previous to their falling and regrowth.
After One Month: Lots of the hairs have now fallen out. A couple of sturdy ones by no means absolutely 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 form of bizarre that you would be able to see along with your eyes the place the hairline is drawn, even when the hairs aren’t there. You also can 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: Here, once more, you possibly can see the place the hairline will develop in. The redness and numbness are each basically gone. (Wearing a hat too lengthy could make the top look slightly pink on the transplanted spot, nevertheless it subsides shortly.) Some sprouts make appearances weekly, and I’ll proceed to trim them again down till they’re in higher numbers. My head appears to be like like a tennis ball, nevertheless it feels pointless to get a haircut since I’m carrying hats in public on a regular basis. I feel in one other month or so, I’ll be capable of ditch the hats and stroll round within the daytime with out worrying if my brow appears to be like humorous. Most of my pals 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. Remember, this can be a superbly useless course of.
After Three Months: My “regular” hair has gotten lengthy sufficient that it might practically cowl the recession if I fashion it ahead. This is nice as a result of I’ve been buzzing the transplanted hairs down as they develop out—and so they have actually been rising out. Right 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 protecting 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 all the way down to that centimeter size and must be at my supreme “starting point” 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 publish images of these at Month 4, too.
After Four 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 absolutely now, as a substitute of trimming them (since my different hairs had been lengthy sufficient to cowl it in entrance). But now, from the passing eye, it appears to be like like I’ve this nifty new hairline, and it feels unbelievable. The most I can say proper now’s that I’m excited to see how this appears to be like in yet 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 Five 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. On the opposite hand, think about 7000+ hairs all rising in without delay: They’re all extraordinarily skinny and wish one other six to eight months to turn out to be thicker, fuller, extra cooperative. When you look carefully on the hairs, you possibly can see that for now they nonetheless have a lifetime of their very own, form of springing each which method. I haven’t put a lot product on them (which might assist management them), and I’m carrying 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 staff is proud of the progress, and says that by late spring or summer season, I must 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 try 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 pictures as Month 5 would have been underwhelming. But now I’m overwhelmed, at Month 7, with how unbelievable this transplant appears to be like. I buzzed all of it all the way 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 had been atop my head. Compare it once more with the picture earlier than my surgical procedure, the place they “drew” within the transplant recipient areas:
The better part is that Dr. Aygin’s staff 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 absolutely thick, although—however I suppose they nonetheless have slightly extra ripening to do, too.
Overall, I can discern with my educated eye the place the transplant line is drawn in my new hair. It’s barely thicker than my pure hair up high. But that’s solely as a result of I’m scrutinizing. It appears to be like completely pure, and there are not 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 hold it brief 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 appeared ahead to with the transplant: A carefree, shaved-down minimize that exhibits no indicators of recession, nor noticeable indicators of thinning at first look.
So, if you need a great 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 can actually see the place the hairline is, and the distinction between the entrance wisps and the recession.
After Nine Months: I. Am. So. Happy. It’s rising in, and thick. The “new” hairs are every fuller and are way 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 fashion 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 pals. And I’ll have already transformed three or 4 of them on the process, every of whom is getting related outcomes alongside their very own respective timelines.
More quickly: I’ll replace this text with extra progress images because the hair continues to develop, effectively 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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