I started losing my hair at the age of 19. At first I rationalized the loss as my hair having always been that way and it was just always uneven. It wasn't until I was 21/22 that I realized I was losing my hair. I'll be honest and say I was reduced to tears upon this realization and that's when I started wearing my hat...a lot.My hair loss has definitely reduced my quality of life. It has kept me from going out on certain occasions if I felt crappy because of how my hair looked. It has definitely decreased my confidence in approaching women. My friends who know how I feel about it say I'm irrational but they would never want to have hair that looks like mine.I could go on but most of the men experiencing hairloss have very similar experiences to mine.
My Surgical Treatments to Date
I had an FUT (strip) session on June 21st, 2011 with Dr. Rahal.I believe the total was 3128 grafts.Dr. Rahal is fantastic. He gives his honest opinion to patients and does not overstretch his capabilities. For example, on the day of surgery I mentioned wanting to have my temples restored but he said they have have a natural appearance right now and that we should leave them as they are. He also placed my transplanted hairline further back of where it would be naturally to ensure that I have enough hair reserved for future transplants.I hope my results are as amazing as the other patient's of Dr. Rahal's.My Non Surgical Treatments
In my 3rd year of university (2008) I was taking 1/4 Proscar daily and using Rogaine twice a day but I stopped after about 8 months because I thought it wasn't working.In the summer of 2010 I started taking Propecia daily as well as using Rogaine once a day and I had FANTASTIC results. After about 8 months hair began to fall out again and I thought, "Screw it, I'll just let it all fall out and just get a hair transplant". Initially my intention was to stabilize my hair but I let this thought get the best of me. Another reason for me discontinuing the medications at this point were side effects such as decreased libido and differences in erectile function (I wouldn't say dysfunction, but not normal function).In April/May I started using 0.5mg of Propecia (to avoid side effects and it seems to be working) daily and 1-2x minoxidil to help my transplanted hair grow.
Norwood class 3
The earliest stage of male hair loss. It is characterized by a deepening temporal recession.
Finasteride at 1mg definitely gave me results over 7-8 months but I had sexual side effects. I'm now doing 0.5mg/day for 2 days then 1 day of 1mg. Hopefully the results are teh same.
Luckily I have a 3 month summer vacation from school during June, July, and September. I had my surgery on June 21st and I returned to school on September 7th so I chilled at home for the first 2 1/2 months post-op.I didn't have to deal with the usual return to work with wearing a hat for 3 months, I had only to do this for 3 weeks. This heavily factored into why I had the hair transplant done because most people would never know. I was very lucky in my case but I am the exception, not the rule.
Finasteride for prevention. Most people who take 1mg/day have side effects but continue taking it until the side effects pass. If the side effects do not pass, then try reducing the dose and seeing if they return.
I definitely feel more confident even though my hair has yet to fully grow. I still wear a hat every time I go out into public but I am only at the 2 + 3/4 month mark.
Now at the 3 1/4 month mark. I can get by with Toppik and I LOVE LIFE AGAIN!! I can go out to dinner, to the bar without wearing a hat and look pretty good doing so.
I went in for my first consultation with Alvi Armani when I was 20 years old and first noticed my hair loss. Thankfully the consultant was an honest man and recommended that I put off the surgery for many years. Although I hated hearing it at the time, it was definitely the right decision.
I don't think Alvi Armani practices in Canada anymore because people weren't pleased with their results.
#1 BEST PIECE OF ADVICE -- CHOOSE YOUR SURGEON CAREFULLY.
Make sure they are IAHRS certified, make sure you can see plenty of their past transplants, good and bad. Ask them what would be the worst outcome for you (I asked Dr. Rahal this question and his answer was that patients get growth but they sometimes don't achieve the density that they wanted. Their hair looks better than what they initially had but after spending so much money they may have higher expectations.) With that being said, most of Dr. Rahal's patients achieve excellent results.
DO NOT go with a hair transplant surgeon just because they are local. Luckily, I am going to school in Ottawa where Dr. Rahal is based but if I lived in Brazil or Europe I would definitely pay for the flight to a top tier hair transplant surgeon. It is simply too much of a risk with your money and YOUR LIFE to have a botched hair transplant. We've all seen and heard the horror stories. My heart goes out to those individuals but selecting only the best surgeons we can ensure these incidents do not occur again.
Hasson and Wong and Dr. Rahal were the surgeons I was choosing between. On their website you can see plenty of results and they are more often than not realistic.
#2 BEST PIECE OF ADVICE - A HAIR TRANSPLANT IS NOT A CURE, IT IS MERELY A SOLUTION
Even if you are on Finasteride (which I recommend), over the course of your lifetime the rest of your head will continue to bald. That is why people say to wait until you are at least 30 before considering a hair transplant (although I don't follow this logic because my hair loss is worse than some people have at age 30 and I do not want to live through my twenties, the prime of my life, looking and feeling like a turd) because you can gauge how much hair you will need. You must understand that realistically you'll only achieve 60% density with your transplanted hair. You will also have a scar FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE going all the way across the back of your head, ear to ear. There isn't enough hair to cover your entire head so even with MULTIPLE TRANSPLANT OPERATIONS you will likely have a BALD SPOT at your crown.
If you can live with all of these things, then a hair transplant may be a route you should take.
Regarding advice #2, I was comfortable with all of those things prior to the surgery. I have never had any desire to buzz/shave my hair and with transplant in the future, I don't think I'll ever need to buzz/shave my hair. My life was so miserable with depression because of hair loss that I could not go on another day knowing that a solution was available. Having done a hair transplant, even if the results are not 100% what I expected, as long as it looks better than where I was, I will be content. I now know that I have tried every option available to combat hair loss and I can sleep easy at night knowing that. There's nothing else that can be done so I am now at peace.
In a few years time when the area behind the transplanted area begins to thin, hopefully I can cover it up with Toppik and undergo a more advanced FUE procedure than they have now (the scar isn't the nicest thing in the world to have). Maybe I'll once again feel crappy about how I look (probably not because it's not the frontal hairline). BUT UNTIL THAT TIME I'M GOING TO MAKE THE BEST OF WHAT I HAVE, LIVE EVERY DAY TO THE FULLEST, AND HIT ON EVERY GIRL I SEE!!! I know the despair, misery, and depression that comes with hair loss and now that I have a temporary solution, I need to make the best of this time.
It kind of sucks to think of life that way, that maybe I only have a certain peak window of good looks but hey, that's just what I have to put up with because of this condition. If I had a choice, I'd never choose to have hair loss but I'll just have to play the cards I've been dealt.
#3 BEST ADVICE - TRY SHAVING YOUR HEAD FIRST! Or BUZZ IT DOWN FIRST!
If you like the look then rock it man! In my case, I can't even grow a god damned bear at 23 and I have a baby face so the shaved head look did not suit me at all. I tried for 3 months and couldn't stand it. Luckily I was travelling for 3 months during one summer between school years so I had no apprehensions of doing it. For the guys who shave their heads for the first time and go to work the next day or are still in school, from what I've read from numerous other individuals, the first few days/weeks are hard as everybody comments on your new look and calls you baldy but beyond that people get used to it and treat you as if you always looked that way. So be strong! You'll need more strength than I've ever had.
#4 BEST PIECE OF ADVICE - FINANCIAL PERSPECTIVE
My surgery of 3,128 grafts cost me $11,000 CAD. The is the first of what I expect to be quite a few hair transplants over the course of my life unless some miraculous cure is developed soon. You need to be able to finance all of these. Don't just hope that you'll get the money in the future. Make sure you have a stable job before getting even the first hair transplant done.
In my case I paid for the surgery with my medical student line of credit. Once again, I am an exception to the rule because once I start working I will be able to pay off this surgery easily and I will be able to afford future surgeries. I know with 99% certainty that I will have stable employment for the rest of my life with a fairly good income. This is just one more thing YOU NEED to consider.
#5 BEST PIECE OF ADVICE - REALISTIC HAIRLINE
Discuss with your surgeon a hairline that is realistic for you given that you will have future hair loss. It will most likely be MUCH higher than it was naturally or you had at 16 years of age. DO NOT!!! AS I HAVE SEEN NUMEROUS PEOPLE AT MY AGE (23) DO PUMP THOUSANDS OF GRAFTS INTO GETTING A 100% DENSE FRONTAL HAIRLINE. This is just so unrealstic. Unless you're getting this surgery at the age of 40-50's YOU WILL have more hair loss. If you don't plan for the future and use your hair conservatively, you will have none left for the back of your head and will end up with an unnatural head of hair.
Dr. Rahal's technique is to put a conservative amount of hair into the frontal 1/3 of the head (to achieve about 60% density) and then behind that place hair at lower density to cover the rest of the head as much as possible. I have used 3,128 grafts for the frontal 1/3 of my head so I have about 4,872 (totaling 8,000) left for the other 2/3 of my head. There will also be a bald spot at the crown. Ideally I'd like to have 100% coverage but I'd much rather have a tiny bald spot at the crown than be completely bald.
With this technique you'll never look like Tarzan King of the Jungle but you will have a realistic looking head of hair for your age. Honestly between 60% - 100% density unless you're really up close, there isn't too much of a difference. I think the fantastic results on his website speak for themselves.