BimmerRick's - Profile page May-18,-2006-The-Big-Day

Posted :5/18/2006

may-18-2006-the-big-day - before front

Before from the front

may-18-2006-the-big-day - day after surgery top

Day after surgery from the top

may-18-2006-the-big-day - before top

Before from the top

may-18-2006-the-big-day - day after surgery side

Day after surgery from the side

Background.  I’m 47 years old and until Thursday, May 18, 2006, was pretty bare on top and had been for the past 10 years.  I started losing my hair in my late teens, with significant thinning by the time I finished college, gradually leading to what you see in my “before” picture.  I started evaluating hair transplants when I was about 25 years old, but never was convinced that I was going to get the kind of results with which I would be satisfied.  I was really encouraged about minoxidil when it was approved by the FDA, and have used it sporadically over the years with very limited results – mostly fuzz and that doesn’t count.  Until now, I never tried propecia.  By the time I was 38-40, I had resigned myself to living with almost no hair on top.  I was relatively self-conscious in my twenties, but as I got older, my baldness actually became a part of my personality, and I figured out that no one was really bothered by it but me.  In more recent years, I started buzzing my hair down with a #3 or #4 guard, and it actually didn’t look so bad to me as long as I kept it short.  I never have tried to camouflage it with a comb-over, or wearing caps all the time, nor have I ever seriously considered an artificial hair replacement system, but I can understand why anyone who has would do so.

Despite my lack of desperation, I have followed over time the achievements and advances that have been made in dealing with hair loss.  It’s amazing how much information is available on the internet, and I read lots about drug therapies, shampoos and lotions, and personal regimens and recipes.  I was struck most by the trend in follicular unit transplantation, and figured this was as close as things were going to get for the foreseeable future.  I started seriously considering a transplant in late 2005.  Once I decided to pursue this course, I started looking around for a good doctor, and found lots of valuable advice on this website.  Ultimately I was drawn to Dr. Jerry Cooley, who practices in Charlotte, North Carolina.  I found a lot of positive information on the web about his practice and approach, but I have to admit that I was most intrigued by the fact that despite his full head of hair now, he experienced baldness at an early age just as I had.  I sensed his devotion to his craft by reading about his research interests.  I first corresponded with his office about 3 years ago but, for no particular reason, never got around to following through by scheduling a consultation.  I finally scheduled a consult on May 10, 2006. 

The Consult.  I was met by Ailene Russell, Dr. Cooley’s trusted assistant and resident den mother, who in her years of working alongside Dr. Cooley, competently answered every question I raised.  Ailene and I talked for about half an hour, and then she introduced me to Dr. Cooley. Because I had done a lot of research on the web and Ailene had addressed most of my remaining procedural curiosities, Dr. Cooley mainly examined me, talked about my goals, confirmed everything Ailene had already shared (Ailene really knows her stuff), and gave me enough assurance to seal the deal.  From the outset, the consultation was relaxed, comfortable and very congenial.  There was never a time that I regarded any of the conversation as a marketing pitch – everything centered on education, solutions and expectations.  I sensed a great deal of empathy from both Dr. Cooley and Ailene – they genuinely wanted to address my concerns and help me identify and develop a plan to achieve my goals.  I never felt rushed at all.

The single concern I had going into the consult was that my new hairline result in one that was age appropriate.  I’ve seen cheesy transplants, and I sure as heck didn’t want one.  I took pictures with me that I had downloaded from the internet that showed a hairline I thought would best suit me at my age.  Basically I wanted moderate density in the middle, with a relatively high hairline at the temples and no concentration on the crown, so that the limited donor hair I had available would provide a decent hairline that looked like a 40-something guy experiencing thinning, not a 40 year old trying to look like an 16 year old.  Dr. Cooley sketched out the hairline on my scalp, took some measurements, and ultimately suggested 2200 to 2500 grafts.  I chose 2500 (just for the record, Aileen had estimated 2200).  It’s important to note a couple of commitments Dr. Cooley made to me.  One is that this single procedure would stand on its own – I wouldn’t have to commit to future procedures.  I could elect to have more, but they wouldn’t be required unless I changed my goals.  The other, and more