Health is the priceless treasure and more expensive than money

Why rearch is vital when having a hair transplant procedure

| Tuesday, June 9, 2009
My story begins with an account of my very poor hair transplant procedures i had with a very famous UK hair clinic.

When i was 22 young and naive i had my first hair transplant at my local ht clinic in West Yorkshire.
In around the year 1997 i came across an advert in a mens magazine for this clinic, and decided after reading this that the place sounded fantastic. It claimed to be state of the art with experienced surgeons from all around the world, they claimed to be leaders in the field of hair restoration and said that they left other clinics behind. Wow i thought ill have to have a consultation because at this point in time i was struggling to cope with my hair loss, i was only 22 and felt like my whole world was coming to an end and that no one could possibly love me with a bald head. So i telephoned them and arranged a consultation.for the following week.

I arrived for my consultation and was shocked to find that this place was not a state of the art clinic but just three rooms at the rear of an NHS doctors surgery. I was shown into a small room and was told to sit down, a gentlemen told me to remove my hat and looked at my hair( which to be honest was thinning a little but looking back it wasn't actually that bad at this stage). It was obvious i was loosing my hair but i still had plenty left, the man said he could help me and said that i was a perfect candidate for a hair transplant he also said that i would soon have a perfect head of hair again.

I was delighted i asked how much this procedure would cost. He replied that because i would need around 1500 grafts throughout my hair to thicken it back up it would be three thousand five hundred pounds. He then said in a rather pushy tone we are very busy so do you want it or what?. I was a bit taken aback by this but the thoughts of a perfect head of hair were ringing in my ear so i agreed. He then said he would need a deposit of one thousand five hundred by the end of the week and said he would book me in for the surgery the following week and i had to pay the balance then.

That was it there was no mention of any side effects, no mention of any risks, no mention of aftercare, no mention of the surgeons competence or qualifications, experience etc and certainly no mention of a hideous scar to the back of my head.

The whole consultation was over in about 5 minutes, and because i was only 22 young and naive i just thought this was normal and i was very excited. When the day of the surgery arrived i was asked straight away as soon as i sat down for the money, the man then counted it in front of me he looked in a terrible mood. As soon as he had finished counting though he looked up and smiled and escorted me into a small room where a young lady washed my hair, i was then told to sit on a chair in another room that looked like a dental surgery.

I was then asked to sign a consent form and was told not to worry, i was then given an injection in my finger to numb my head and was told to relax and that my head would be numb in no time. The surgeon then came in and started to remove hair from the rear of my head to be placed on the top of my head later, this took about five minutes and didn't hurt at all due to the anesthetic.

He then started inserting the grafts into the top of my head and let me tell you this was the worst pain i have ever had in my life. It started out as just an uncomfortable pain, but after an hour or so it was absolutely excruciating i told the Dr it was really painful, but he just laughed and said it wont be long and told me to think about all the hair i would have. I had no choice but to grin and bear it, it was awful and throughout the five hour operation blood just kept on running down my face and neck it was terrifying but he just kept saying don't panic its normal you`ve just got a sensitive scalp.

When the operation was over i was told i had to get up and go sit in a waiting room for a couple of minutes, to my surprise the doctor then said goodbye and went home leaving me on my own with two female assistants. They told me that my stitches would dissolve on their own in a few weeks and gave me some co codamol for the pain, at this point i didn't even know i had any stitches. They also gave me a letter with aftercare instructions on it which was about half a page long and consisted of washing instructions etc. After about 10 minutes they opened the back door and said goodbye leaving me to drive home dis- orientated and 10 minutes after a five hour operation.

Over the next few weeks i struggled with the pain but i was excited and couldn't wait for my new hair to grow. My head looked very sore and was covered in scabs with little hairs popping out. I was told before the surgery that i was paying for 1500 grafts but to be honest i think i only received about 250 and over the next six months this was confirmed as only a small number of hairs appeared on my head, and i might add they looked very unnatural a bit like dolls hair. The most concerning thing though to me was that i suffered something called shock loss which i have now found out is common but i was not forewarned or told anything about this prior to my surgery.

Shock loss is where the rest of your normal original hair becomes shocked by the new transplants that are placed next to them and fall out leaving you with only the transplanted hairs left this is usually only temporary but in my case was permanent. So in effect i had payed three thousand five hundred pounds for 1500 new hairs, received around 250 new hairs and lost hundreds of old hair. So i was much worse off after the surgery than before i even had the operation( and a lot poorer too). I was now in a situation where i could not even go outside without wearing a hat and i had no choice but to get another hair transplant to add some more hair to my head because i only had about 250 hairs on the top of my head and my confidence was shattered so i began to save up for round two.

In the year 2000 god knows why i returned to the clinic for another consultation they then said i need another 1500 grafts, but because i had been before they said it would only cost one thousand five hundred pounds. They also advised me to take finesteride and said they would give me a twelve months supply for nothing in with the price of the surgery, they told me it would stop any further hair loss and gave me enough tablets to last six months and said i had to come back for the rest when i ran out. I contacted them when i did run out and they refused to give me any.

I had my second surgery later that week which was much the same as the first except this one wasn't painful which just proves that the first operations anesthetic wasn't administered correctly.

Over the next few months though i experienced terrible headaches on a daily basis, not at all like the first transplant and these headaches didn't start to ease until around 8 months after the procedure. At the same time as the headaches i had feelings of numbness to the back of my head which took months to ease, but even to this day i still have a numb part at the rear off my head on the right which i'm told is probably nerve damage. The growth rate was much the same as the first op and now after paying for 3000 hairs at a cost of five thousand pounds i have around 500.

From the year 2000 i have suffered from bouts of mental health problems i.e depression anxiety, panic attacks which have been so serious ive been admitted to hospital, ive had bouts of agoraphobia and have been on numerous types of anti depressants which i am still taking to this day all because off the treatment and results of this clinic. I have also go two seven cm's scars to the back of my head which prevent me from shaving my head and look so ugly i have to keep them covered.

After the surgeon got struck off i took a small amount of comfort in the fact that the clinic would be closed.but after reading the hair loss forums on the net i have to my horror found that they are still around and have many dis satisfied patients they sound like they are the same as ever there are loads and loads of posts on from patients that are about how people have been disfigured, and ripped off by the Norton clinic and their surgeons and unscrupulous salesmen .

Please please if you are thinking of going to this clinic BEWARE, ask to meet former patients and ask loads of questions because if they are the same as when i went you could potentially be making the biggest mistake of your life, take heed from someone who knows from first hand experience

Before having a ht do some research and check out the many different surgeons on all the hair forums a good starting point would be www.hairtransplantexperiences forum, and please don't let travel be the deciding factor because the results good or bad will last a lifetime. Have a look at Doctors websites and have a look at all the negative comments on the Internet simply google the hair clinics name and u will find info

The next section describes an appeal that was set up on a hair loss forum called PB hair) to raise money to help fix my horrible predicament the appeal was called Project Bullitnut.

I am a valued member on all forums giving advice, i always try my best to help people make an educated decision regarding transplants, my goal is to prevent people making the same mistakes as i did and to ensure that they wont regret their ht for years to come like i did with my clinic.

PB and BIGMAC bless their hearts decided to help me by starting a REPAIR BULLITNUT campaign.

They did this off their own backs (as they knew how my situation was destroying my life) with the intention of raising money and encouraging hair transplant clinics to get involved. Which fortunately for me happened very quickly as SHAPIRO MEDICAL GROUP offered almost immediately to do my repair surgery pro which i am absolutely over the moon about and unbelievably grateful. As ive already said i regard them as being world class and one of the very best there is so to get this offer is like a dream come true for me.

PB and BIGMAC set up a pay pal account for donations towards the travel expenses etc and i received lots of donations including:-

1. The hotel paying for by fellow forum member TIM UK

2. The flights for my first trip paying for by another forum member called TUBS

3. The meals on the day were also payed for by a member called NERVOUS NELLY

4. The flights for my second trip were also payed for by SPENCER KOBREN the author and radio host of the bald truth

I also received many donations from other members of all the major hair loss forums including JANNA the head technician at SMG who as helped co ordinate this entire project and has been absolutely fantastic and supportive from the beginning.


HEART THANKYOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The next part of my incredible story to restore my hair and life details my trip to Shapiro Medical Group in the US

Here's the story of my hair loss repair program with Shapiro medical group in Minnesota

I'm going to go into detail to help all newbies and UK patients thinking of going to America

Firstly I live in the UK in West Yorkshire so I booked my flights from Manchester as this was my nearest large airport. I booked my flights with klm airlines who are partners with north west airlines.

Who fly to America regularly from all UK airports.

The flight cost around £450 return (thanks Tubs)and was a one stop connection in Amsterdam before flying to MSP airport at Minneapolis. The flights themselves were very comfortable and even the connection stop at Amsterdam was very easy to do and straight forward. To be honest this was a major worry for me as id only ever flown to Paris, but trust me it was a piece of cake!! The flight to Amsterdam took fifty minutes then the flight to MSP took 9 and half hrs but this seemed to go pretty quick as there was a great selection of in flight entertainment with TV screens in the head rests.

When I arrived at MSP airport I was picked up by the hotel shuttle bus that JANNA the clinical operations manager at Shapiro Medical Group had very kindly arranged for me as she was aware just how nervous i was of flying and how inexperienced i was, as i'd only ever flown to France before. This was a huge weight off my mind as its terrifying being in a strange country without the added worry of finding your hotel. .

Janna had booked my hotel for me previously in the run up to the surgery as I'm hopeless with anything like that which was very helpful .The hotel she recommended and booked was the country inn and suites at Bloomington and i was very impressed with her recommendation as the hotel was great

When the bus dropped me off at the hotel I simply couldn't believe it, the place was immaculate and the staff were warm and friendly and ever so helpful (which to be honest was a shock as UK hotels are generally poor). The room came equipped with flat screen TV with loads of channels and on demand movies, it had all the essential amenities e.g. hair dryers, kettle iron etc ,and there was even free Wifi Internet access in every room which proved cool as I brought my laptop.

There was also free breakfasts which believe me I took advantage of as they were out of this world lol..

Monday morning i got the shuttle bus from the hotel to take me to SMG and I don't mind admitting I was absolutely terrified after the previous transplants id had. I must of spent most of the night in the lavatory but Janna bless her kept reassuring me as soon as i arrived at SMG which was very nice!!.

As soon as i arrived after meeting Janna i was relaxed as she was a wonderful warm caring person and knew just what to say to put me at ease straight away

She then introduced me to Dr Shapiro he greeted me with a handshake and welcomed me to his clinic, straight away all my fears disappeared because the guy was one of the most kind, warm hearted gentleman I've ever had the pleasure to meet he really took on board my hair loss concerns and was extremely passionate about helping me it was obvious right from the get go this guy was going to do his very best to improve my situation.

Firstly he checked out my donor hair, laxity and recipient site. He then took plenty off photos from all sides, he then uploaded these onto a computer screen so I could see my hair loss from all angles. After this he asked what I hated the most and what I hoped to achieve.

We discussed the options and procedure for around an hour. He was extremely thorough and answered all my questions and concerns and really took on board what I was saying. To me it was blatantly obvious the man had my very best interests at heart, there was absolutely no pressure or rushing to get me into the chair he wanted to get the plan off attack just right before we started.

He then showed me what he thought would be the best plan off attack based on his knowledge and my desires by drawing diagrams on my head and going through the whole process step by step explaining every aspect of the imminent surgery. I was more than happy to go with his suggestions as they were exactly what i was hoping for and matched my goals completely . So we agreed on the approach and I was led into the procedure room where I was introduced to everyone.

This again was a pleasure as every member off his staff greeted me warmly I felt like a VIP and I couldn't possibly have been more comfortable all the techs were very friendly and happy telling jokes and doing their up most to make me feel comfortable. All in all I have to say that Dr's Ron and Paul Shapiro must have had the friendliest work force I've eve come across my whole life.

I was then told to put on a medical gown ready for the procedure whilst doing this their consultant Matt Zupan came in and introduced himself to me and again what a nice guy he was, funny and quick witted and very likable just like the other staff members he asked if I was comfortable and laughed at my forum name Bullitnut .

I was placed in a chair rather like a dentists chair and was given my anesthetic using an extraordinary vibrating machine that was placed on my forehead to numb my scalp. This was a great feeling I never felt any pain whatsoever just the odd scratch like feeling now and again but this was normal and was nothing at all to worry about. I can honestly say hand on heart that the anesthetic was no where near as bad as that administered at a dentist, and i'm a wimp so if it hurt id be the first to complain lol.

I was then placed face down on the chair with my chin on a head rest so Dr Shapiro could remove my strip. This again was completely painless and to be honest I almost fell asleep as I was very comfortable lying there and had foolishly had little sleep the night before due to needless worry. After the strip was removed the techs starting the cutting while I was being sutured up.

Dr Shapiro then told me he had managed to get rid of most of my poor previous scar which was great and I almost started to cry soft sod I am lol. He then started to make the incisions for my new hair with Janna counting everyone out loud so we knew just how many there was. When about 90% of the incisions were made, they used a dye onto my recipient area for them to see the incisions better. They saved around 10% of the grafts to be used for fine tuning at the end. They were also taking estimates of how many grafts were to be expected every half hours or so.

Janna and the other techs then started to plant with Dr Shapiro checking all the time he was very thorough and hardly ever away whilst they were doing this. They planted in a rotation so that each tech didn't become too tired. It was obvious that they had all been there working together for a lot of years as they were like a well oiled machine working in tune with each other it was very impressive to see.

During the surgery I was given Valium to help me relax and offered a choice of Dvd's to watch on a flat screen TV in front of me, the whole experience was so relaxing I almost fell asleep on numerous occasions and had to fight to keep my eyes open at times lol.

I can honestly say though that through out the whole procedure I didn't feel one bit of pain, and I was told that if I did to tell them so they could administer more anesthetic.

The whole thing lasted from 8.00 am until around 5.00pm with a break in the middle for lunch which was a lovely pizza courtesy of NervousNelly,thank you!!.

I was also told that if I ever needed the rest room just to ask and I could go, which I did on a couple of occasions and both times I was escorted by this very caring lovely technician just to make sure I was ok due to the medication ,all in all the level of care shown throughout was simply exceptional. The guys who work at SMG should be very proud of themselves as they do a superb job and really know how to make someone feel welcome and look after them.

Throughout the surgery I was offered drinks periodically which was a nice gesture as you can imagine sat in a chair that long you become restless and a nice drink every now and again alleviated that .

When most of the grafts were placed Dr Shapiro and Janna began to fine tune the hairline with the last lot of grafts to fine tune the work and they really took there time over this to ensure it was just right and as planned from the beginning.

After the surgery was finished Tom one off the techs a really cool guy went through all the post operative instructions and gave me a bag with pain killers and some gauze cloths, graftcyte spray and antibiotic cream he was very thorough with the instructions and made sure I understood properly which was good thanks Tom!!.

I was then given something to eat and drink before I said goodbye to everyone and thanked Dr Shapiro for all the work he had done , Janna then asked if I was happy with the results and i'm not ashamed to admit that even though I'm a man off 34yrs old it brought tears to my eyes when I looked in the mirror.

After the surgery i went back to the hotel on the free shuttle bus which was very handy and the driver was great, the hotel was only minutes away from SMG so the ride only took a short while.

I was told to return the day after surgery for a shampoo so they could instruct me properly on how to do it. The free bus picked me up again the following day and when i arrived Janna introduced me to one of the techs, who was also a hairdresser called Sue. She said she was going to trim my hair after Janna had washed it for me and she did a great job as it looked lots better when the sides were trimmed to match the new grafted hair.

Afterwords Dr Shapiro took some pictures and video footage of my results he asked me if I was happy and I said ecstatic.

The city itself was great to explore and was beautiful and worlds apart from anything we have here in the UK, I was mesmerized by all the tall buildings and how clean the place was, also the people there were so polite and well mannered it was like something from a dream I really took to the city and its definitely a place id visit again.

I realize this has been a long thread but I feel that after the poor surgeries ive had in the past I owe it to everyone out there who has supported me on the forums to tell them just how pleased and thankful I am. Right now I feel like a kid in a candy store and I would like to say a huge heartfelt thank you to Dr Shapiro for all his hard work and dedication in making my dreams come true.

You truly are the greatest man I've ever met in my entire life you were born with a gift and i'm just so glad I got the pleasure of you using it on me, in my humble opinion based on all the research I did before you agreed to do the pro Bono work and my own experience ive had with you, you are definitely the greatest hair transplant surgeon on the planet today and as well as that you have now become a good friend and id like to wish you all the best for the future.

I would also like to thank Janna who is just an incredible lady who has the patients best interest at heart 100% of the time, you went out of your way every day I was in Minnesota to help me and for that I am and always will be eternally grateful you're the best J

SMG ROCK!!!!!!!!

I realize people may possibly think i'm only writing this article and saying good things about SMG as ive had a repair there, but i think its important to emphasize the fact that hand on heart the treatment i received from SMG was absolutely second to none.

They looked after me every single step of this project and were always there to answer any questions i had. Their entire staff bent over backwards to accommodate me and they really were a great bunch of people every single one of them.
They were very professional and extremely caring and it was visible straight away that Dr Ron Shapiro really knew what he was talking about as soon as i spoke with him, i genuinely believe he really is at the very top of the ht game and i would not hesitate one bit to recommend him or Dr Paul to anyone.

Overall i'm walking on air at the moment thanks to everyone who's contributed to this repair project. The fact that guys at SMG and on the hair loss forums some who ive never met before in my life have contributed to me getting my life back means so much to me, i simply cant describe how thankful i am and i really am glad to have found the hair loss forums and come across people like SMG,Spencer,Bigmac,PB, Tim UK, tubs ,nervous Nelly and all the other great folk that have contributed to this.

best wishes to everyone who supported me i'm off to bed now as i'm extremely tired and looking forward to dreaming about using a comb for the first time in eight years lol
I would also like to say a huge thank you to PB and BIGMAC who started this whole project for me. Your the best guys i owe you big time
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