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I had my first HT in April 2009 with Dr. Konior in the Chicago area - almost 2800 grafts to the hairline and frontal third.
I had my second HT in June 2010 with Dr. Konior - 2400 grafts mostly to the crown with some used to shore up a few spots along the part and hairline.
I tried Rogaine for awhile but have never used Propecia. I was dead set against taking medication and figured HTs would prevent me from having to use either Propecia or Rogaine. I haven't been using either as my hairloss now does seem to have stabilized (couldn't get much worse).
My Hair Loss Story
Through my 20s I had a full thick head of hair. I used to go to the barber and always ask that he just thin it out because it was so thick. In my early thirties, much to my amazement (and horror)it started thinning out on top and I eventually began using Rogaine. I didn't think Rogaine was doing anything but it clearly was buying me time as my hair did a massive shed once I went cold turkey off it (foolishly thinking maybe my hair loss was stabilized). I began to grow comfortable with having a mature receding hairline but in my late 30s, by the time I realized that I was rapidly moving toward a Norwood 6, it was almost too late to do anything outside of shave it down or start looking into hair transplants.
As it is with many, money was a huge limiting factor. When I first began looking into hair transplants, I thought I could get by with about 800-1000 grafts an keep the cost to around $5k-6k, which was still a huge burden. When I went for my first consult, reality hit as I was told I needed at least 3200 grafts (turns out I needed even more - don't underestimate the number of grafts you need!). I started saving and by the time I was in my early 40s, I was in better shape financially and a HT became a real possibility. I still had to overcome huge doubts about whether quality HTs were myth or reality. I now know they are reality.
How has my hair loss affected me?
When I really began losing all my hair from my hairline all the way back to the crown, it greatly affected my self confidence. I'm in great shape otherwise and very youthful looking. I just felt pretty ugly as I wasn't one of those who could pull off the shaved down look. My head is too big and lumpy!
What hair loss treatments have worked best for me?
Am I happy with my hair transplant experience and the results?
I am incredibly happy with my HT experiences. My first HT made a dramatic improvement. I'm fortunate to have pretty coarse hair so my grafts go far in making a cosmetic difference. Having my hairline back to frame my face was extremely gratifying. I still spend way too much time gawking in the mirror, grateful for what my disbelieving eyes see these days. When you get something taken away that you had taken for granted and then you get it back again, you find yourself really appreciating that thing!
Currently (as of January 2011) I'm 7 months post-op from my second HT. That one concetrated on my crown and shored up my part and hairline. It's growing in a bit slower than the first, but so far, I'm quite thrilled. It won't completely cover up the fact that I'm thin up there, but pretty soon, about 95% of the people won't be able to tell I have any hairloss problems about 95% of the time. Good enough for me considering where I started.
What hair loss treatments would I recommend?
Listen to the elder spokesman on this site. Post photos and ask for advice and recommendations. The people here are extremely helpful, honest, and informed. They'll recommend Rogaine and Propecia and maybe Nizoral shampoo. Give those a try for at least a year and you may save yourself tons of money avoiding or delaying a HT. Then do your research, read hundreds of posts, search this site for topics of interest and educate yourself on HTs before you go that route. And if you do go the HT route, do not make the mistake of trying to go on the cheap as you will be so sorry you did. Go with a surgeon recommended on this site after consulting with several.
How has hair restoration surgery changed my life?
I look and feel younger every time I look in the mirror and that has greatly increased my self confidence and that has made me happier, no doubt about it. People react differently to me now too. Women are much more attentive (although I'm not impressed by those who are, to be honest) and I no longer get the wandering eyes up to the top of my head. I hate that we're such an image conscious society and I greatly respect those that accept themselves as is. With my HT, I feel like I took the easy way out, but in all honesty, I don't regret it.
My general advice and suggestions.