Joe - AKA - JotronicAge: 50 | Bald Class: Email Me Four sessions:
1.) March 18th, 2002...2406 FU Grafts
2.) January 30th, 2003...2425 FU Grafts
3.) November 4th 2003...2488 FU Grafts
4.) I've also had a couple of smaller "guinea pig" sessions since I now work for H&W and I'm apparently a "willing" test subject:)
5.) October 5th, 2010...1399 FU Grafts
All sessions performed by Jerry Wong MD
I used Proscar 5mg. quartered and taken M,W,F for three years. It helped to tighten up my crown by making the perimeter stronger and thickened some of the weaker hairs. The overall area of loss in the crown narrowed just a bit and the quality of my hair improved all over my scalp.
I currently am taking finasteride once daily.
My Hair Loss Story
I started to truly notice I was loosing my hair at the young age of 17. It was pointed out to me by someone in my high school. Isn't high school great? As if I didn't have enough to worry about!! It wasn't much to speak of. There was only a little bit of thinning in the crown.
Fast forward six years. I was 23 years old and I decided to go to a hair transplant doctor to see what my options were. I only went because a friend of mine asked me to come along for his consultation as moral support. After the doc was finished with my friend he looked at me and said "I can help you too." I was pretty surprised because my situation hadn't really become an issue for me but I was thinning in the hairline a bit and I never really noticed the crown. It hadn't gotten bad at this point but it was indicative of future events to come.
"You need to stay ahead of your hairloss", he said. "Three procedures and a scalp reduction with me and you'll be set for years to come." I was sold. I mean, what could go wrong? He was a doctor that only had my best interests in mind, right? That was the beginning of my own personal Hell.
Within the first year I had two procedures with this doctor. Two strip procedures that when combined gave me roughly 800 mini and micro grafts. I say "roughly" because I really don't remember the exact number but I'm sure I'm close. When these grafts started to grow in I was pretty happy with my decision. The doc placed all the grafts behind my natural hairline to give me more density. He wanted to wait about another ten months or so before we started the third procedure and then we'd move on to the scalp reduction. I'm not sure why it was planned this way because now that I know more about the process I know that a scalp reduction normally would have been done first.
It was during the second procedure that I asked my first intelligent question. "What happens if I lose more hair"? He told me that I was fine and that once he was done with me then I probably wouldn't need anymore work and that I wasn't going to lose anymore hair anyway. My senses got the better of me and I put an immediate stop to any more procedures.
By the time I was 27 years old I had not a single hair left of my original hairline. My hairline consisted of thick, pluggy looking grafts that became a reminder of my unfortunate naivety. Needless to say, my self confidence plunged. I felt horrible.
Well, by the time I was 32 years old my head looked, quite simply, like the head of a "Ken Doll". Almost all of my original hair had fallen out over the years and I had almost nothing but the grafts on top of my head. Overhead flourescent lighting, wind, rain and outdoor events that involved water sports became my worst nightmares. During conversations with others I would notice how their eyes would drift up to my hairline. God, I hated talking to new people. Everyone knew but I never spoke about it to anyone but my closest friends. These situations made my grafts even more noticeable and no amount of time in front of my mirror could hide my grafts.
In January of 2002 I was sitting in my apartment late one night and I saw one of the zillions of infomercials about hair transplants as all of you have. I never paid attention to them because I knew they were all just a little too slick to be credible but something was different this time. I had been feeling especially low at that time in my life due to other unfortunate personal circumstances but when I saw this particular infomercial something clicked in my head. No, I didn't order the video but I did jump on the internet. HOLY COW!! I never thought I'd see what kind of info was available on the web. After I typed "hair transplant" in Google I found dozens and dozens of pages on the subject. I eventually found a few sites that listed doctors by region. I immediately looked to see who was available in the Seattle area and that is how I found Hasson & Wong.
I hesitated. I picked up the phone to call but then I'd hang up. Did I really want to go through this nightmare again? Could anyone help me? I felt like a loser. I picked up the phone again and actually dialed the number. A booming voice answered, "Hasson & Wong, how can I help you?". It was Mike Ferko in the Seattle office of Hasson & Wong. We made a Saturday appointment for a consultation.
When I arrived at Mike's office he immediately jumped to work and started looking at my head. He said that my work was horrible (DUH!) He then looked at my donor site on the back of my head. I had not one but TWO wide scars on the back of my head from the previous work. He couldn't believe what the doc had done to me. By the end of the consultation he told me that H&W could fix me up with "1800 to 2400 grafts" and the scars could be removed and replaced with one fine thin one. Needless to say, I was excited.
Then, I left the office and reality settled in again. Was I falling for another scam? Was I being gullible because he told me what I wanted to hear? I immediately started to do research on the web. I read about every doctor I could find. I read what other people thought of the doctor they went to. I read good and I read bad but I could find NOTHING negative about Hasson & Wong. Could they be the real deal?
About two weeks after my consultation with Hasson & Wong I got a call from Mike. He asked me my thoughts on our meeting and I told him I was hesitant. He understood why. He then called me later to ask if I was available that coming Thursday. I said sure. When I entered his office there were three other guys in his office. They were all there to see ME! They were all former patients of Hasson & Wong. They had varying degrees of hairloss before they went to H&W and they had different characteristics. The first guy had 1200 grafts in his hairline only a few weeks earlier. The grafts looked great. They were very tightly packed. The second guy was of middle eastern descent and he had received about 1800 grafts to his hairline and the top of his head about eight months earlier. His hair was growing in and looked completely natural. The third guy blew me away. He had the same characteristics as I did. He was basically a pasty white guy with thin hair and a balding crown. He had received 2500 grafts in one session a year earlier. It was completely undetectable. All three guys had scars that were almost invisible. I was sold. "Sign me up!!!!".
Mike told me there was an opening on March 18th, 2002 so he signed me up. What I want to stress here is that Mike Ferko did nothing but EDUCATE me on the process that Hasson & Wong uses and what the differences were between the mini/micro grafts I received nine years earlier and the FU,(Follicular Unit), grafts that H&W used. He told me that the guys I met earlier were "virgin scalps" in that they had never had any work done before they came to H&W. My case would be different for two reasons.
1.) I had two prior surgeries so my donor area had already been used and part of the procedure would be to remove the two scars.
2.) My donor area was not the best. According to Mike, on a scale of 1 to 10, my donor area was about a 3. This is because my donor hair was not super dense, maybe average, and I had the two scars.
What I did have in my favor was a very elastic scalp. This would allow more donor area to be removed to get the larger sessions.
How has my hair loss affected me?
Hairloss was a mixed bag for me. For the most part I was very concious of my horrid appearance. I'd walk downtown and see my relfection in store windows and shudder. The worst part about being outside would be the wind. Because I'd have to use so much hairspray to keep the grafts flatter against my scalp the wind would blow and cause it to fly up like a flap of some kind. All that hair matted down with spray would wind up looking like a sailboat sail. Now THAT was embarassing.
The kicker is that I never really worked in an environment that allowed me to wear a hat. I would wait tables or bartend for several years during my twenties and I had a few short acting stints in college so I couldn't be one of those guys that would retreat to my house and hide from the world. I would sometimes avoid parties or functions but my work kept me out in front of the public every day (and night) so I had to "put on a face" to hide my fears and anxiety. Maybe that was a good thing in the end.
What hair loss treatments have worked best for me?
Proscar/Avodart only. MSM is good however for keeping hair healthy and allowing it to grow fast. It does NOT allow for regrowing lost hair or kicking in early growth for transplanted hair. DO NOT think this will happen because for some reason it has taken on that attribute over the past few years that people have been talking about it. I was there for the first mention of it on the forums. Futzyhead was the first to try this and give his assessment so don't believe anyone else that may say it does more than what I mentioned.
Am I happy with my hair transplant experience and the results?
I wouldn't change a thing. It has helped me to find a new direction in life and that is to help others that are going through the same ordeal that I endured.
What hair loss treatments would I recommend?
Rogaine (in rare instances)
MSM for good health
How has hair restoration surgery changed my life?
I had to buy a hair dryer for the first time in ten years! No, really. It was cool. I felt like a kid in a candy store and I picked out the biggest, baddest one in the store. Pretty sad really but it was fun for me.
What's great is that I don't have to worry about the pluggy look that I used to have. The old grafts are there but they are simply camouflaged now because of all the great work by Dr. Wong. I can pull off most hair styles that I would want to try but not all because my crown is still thin. It is not however bald which is a big difference.
My general advice and suggestions.
My advise is to simply research your options and when you find a clinic that interests you see if they are consistent with their work. Anyone can knock one out of the park from time to time but you want to find a clinic that does so everyday. Meet patients and if you can meet the docs before you choose. If you are too far away and can't do this then take enough time to learn about what you are seeing in photos and what makes for a good hair transplant. Just because someone may get coverage doesn't mean it is necessarily good.