Hair Transplant – Steve’s Story

Steve documented his hair transplant on this blog: http://www.steveshairstory.blogspot.com/. Below are the details of the post:

On my 40th birthday, Laurie, Jamie and Nikki took me to a salon to be fitted for my first hairpiece. The evolution of my hair systems over the past 14 years could be a story on it’s own but that’s for another time. After moving to Florida and finding a new stylist to maintain my look, Jerry, my stylist ended up having a hair transplant for himself. I saw the results at my regularly scheduled appointment, ten days after his procedure and was pretty impressed. Fast forward one year and Jerry’s hair looks great. Laurie came with me to see Jerry’s hair and we decided it was time for me to have a new look. The photo below is one of the last shots of my old look.

The advantages for me would be a lot less maintenance, the color would always be right (mine) and it would gray naturally. The disadvantage is that the result is not “instant.” Transplanted hair takes time to grow out, so my look would be radically different for a few months. I figured I’d had the same look for 14 years so I could use the change.

We scheduled my procedure to take place as soon as we returned from visiting Jamie, Howie and Nikki after Yom Kippur. That way I would have my familiar look when we visited with our old northern friends and we could talk about their and our lives without hair dominating the conversation.

Now, for the procedure itself.

Dr. Mejia checked his notes from our initial consultation. We made some adjustments to our previous plan and he drew on my forehead where my new hairline would be, where we would fill in the back and to fill in an area on the side which suffered hair loss as a result of a previous hair system.

When the doctor tried to take the before pictures, his camera had a dead battery. But guess who happened to have a camera with a charged battery? He took plenty of pictures with my camera. Before the procedure I asked what was under the donor area which was being removed. When you feel the back of your head, it feels like the skull is not too far away. The answer is: Epidermis, dermis, then fat. Maybe that’s where the term “fat head” is from.

I was face down on a table like a massage table, completely numbed locally. Dr. Mejia taped some existing hair up and out of the way, clipped the donor site and made his incision below the taped up hair which would later cover the incision.

When reviewing the photos at home that evening, much to my surprise, he took pictures during the donor area removal. Let’s just say the Bodies exhibit was mild by comparison. Some photos must be distributed with the warning “Viewer discretion is advised.” If you ever want to know what’s going on inside my head, I can show you a picture.

If you’re into gore and like horror movies and don’t mind seeing a person without all their skin intact and if you really want to see what goes on inside my head, then click on the link below. Viewer Discretion Strongly Advised. You’ve been warned.

Go here to get grossed out: http://understeveshead.blogspot.com/

The incision runs from above the front of one ear to above the front of the other, across the back of my head. I was surprised it was so long, but that also distributes the “stretch” when the incision is closed over a wider area. What you see here is donor area all closed up. I was not in a position to take more photos.

After a brief “pit stop” I was ushered into a different room sitting up in what was a very comfortable chair. If I had brought a van, I’d have tried to take the chair home with me because I was able to sit for hours without any discomfort.

Next, a hair-splitting team of assistants literally split the “donor” strip into individual hair grafts as well as doubles, triples and quads. The singles are destined for my front hairline while the larger grafts will fill in the back and sides where they will be less visible at the scalp.

Next step, Dr. Mejia made holes in my head into which these grafts will be inserted. He determines the angle at which the grafted hair will grow so I will have a more natural look. I’m not sure why but I heard a crunching sound each time he made a new hole. He used a different size tool for each size graft. I was not able to watch this going on but it didn’t feel like 3000 holes were being punched. If I began to feel anything along the way, like pin pricks, I just had to say the word and they numbed me more. One of the technicians told me she thought I could feel it a little because I bled a little more. Three technicians worked on inserting the grafts, one on each side and one in the back. Dr. Mejia gave them each an occasional “break” so he could inspect their work and pop in a few on his own. I was surprised that the holes he made earlier didn’t close up by the time they got to them all with grafts. I also thought it must be tough to see all those holes. They said it wasn’t difficult at all. They do this every day.

This goes on for over I guess 9 hours. I had a relaxing and familiar image in front of me all day which reminded me of my upcoming sail from Curacao to Tortola. We took a short break for lunch, they ordered in ribs. Then it was back to work until the last hair was in place.

I regret that not all of my team is pictured as some had to leave earlier in the day. I’ll try to post some of my “recovery” stories in a few days. So far things are looking good and I finally got a haircut to mostly even things out. I had the “haircut from hell” for a few days while I was between worlds. All I can do now is wait for everything to grow in so i can style it. My hair hasn’t been this short since the early 1960’s, and it probably was a little longer then.

That’s Jerry at my side and he disclaims any responsibility for this haircut. He did the best he could with what he had to work with: Short spots courtesy of the doctor, a long incision to keep covered and a client who wouldn’t let him buzz the top all the way down to make it even. I had told the doctor to do whatever he needed to do to make his job easier. I’m in this for the long haul. Jerry went through what I just did over a year ago. Hair grows at 1cm to 1.5cm a month so we have a chance to experiment with my style along the way.

Let me know if you enjoyed this blog and I hope I didn’t gross you out. It really was a painless procedure. I look forward to the wind blowing through my hair some day and a low maintenance head.

Preparation for my procedure began three weeks ahead of time when I was supposed to stop eating nuts or taking any vitamin E products. I had to bend the rules slightly when Jamie and Howie bought me Halo Farms Peanut Butter Ripple ice cream which rivaled my favorite flavor from the now defunct Goodnoes in Newtown, Pa. Some would argue that peanut butter had at one time been a nut but I didn’t see any shells and I figured it had been transformed into an ice cream product prior to 21 days ago and was therefore permitted. It happened to be delicious and I heartily recommend it.

Two weeks prior, no natural herbs, 10 days prior, no aspirin. Three days prior, no heavy exercise including pleasant physical exertion if you catch my drift. I had to bend this rule too, and took a very nice bike ride with Nikki along the Hudson in NYC. We biked 18 miles but chose a level path. The weather was spectacular and I wasn’t about to miss that ride for anything. The purpose of no exercise turns out to be to keep endorphins and adrenalin low but I still had a day and a half to relax before my big day.