My experience of a Hair Restoration surgery
My Hair Restoration Surgery
Woke up about 7am and took a shower and washed my hair as usual. For breakfast I had Cereal and some juice. After breakfast I took an antibiotic pill as instructed by Dr. Keene. If I were to do this over again I would have choose a breakfast with less liquids, because bathroom breaks are a killer during surgery.
My appointment was scheduled for 8:30 and I got there about 10 minutes early. They quickly got be to the changing room where I just had to take off my shoes and put on some booties and take off my button up shirt and put on a gown that opens in the back. The nurse then took some before pictures and washed my hair with some type of antibiotic shampoo. Everyone in the office was very polite and concerned with my comfort. After the changing room the nurse urged me to try to go to the bathroom because I wouldn’t be getting another break for another 2-3 hours. While I was in the bathroom I noticed there wasn’t any mirrors there…in fact there were no mirrors anywhere. But I’ll get to that later.
Once I was finished with the bathroom break I headed into the surgery room. There was about 7 computers aligned the walls for cutting the hair follicles. I didn’t spend much time looking around as they lead me to the chair. It was a standard looking Dentist-type chair. There was a TV in front playing a relaxing movie of island scenes and they had a list of about 50-60 different movies to choose 3 or 4 from I could watch. Also, there was about 5 or 6 assistants or nurses who where chatting while they were doing all the prep work for the surgery. There was a pleasant attitude about the whole place. It was around this time that they gave me a couple pills to take (Valium) and where constantly checking my blood pressure and heart rate. While I was in the chair, Dr. Keene came in and asked if I was ready for this, without hesitation I said “Yep!” She took a mascara pencil and drew a hairline that we had discussed. After looking at it with a mirror I was concerned the hairline was too low and I didn’t think it would look natural on me. She redrew it and moved it up about a ¼ of and inch or so. This looked much better in my opinion. She confirmed that I was going to get 1500 in the hairline and that would be it. “WAIT A MINUTE” I was planning on getting 1500 in the hairline and 600 in the crown. So, there was a little miscommunication before hand, but it was quickly resolved. Always communicate clearly what you want before you start the surgery.
With the hairline drawn, the nurses put on a sort of skirt on my head with gauze wrapped around. It was right after this that my bladder was getting ready to burst again. I know I had already had my bathroom break, but I didn’t think I could wait 2 hours for another one. The nurses were a little hesitant to let me go again, but they did. I could feel the Valium kicking in, so I understand why they didn’t want me to go, but I was happy they did. Slowly making my way back from the restroom I sat back in the chair and the nurses had to again wrap up my head. I felt a little bad for making them do this, but they were very pleasant about the whole thing.
At this time a nurse put on one of the movies I chose. It was actually very hard for me to follow, partially the Valium and because of all the other little things happening in the room. Keep in mind that the only thing I could really see was the TV, everything else was being screens or directly behind me.
10:00AM. A short while after the movie started the Anesthesiologist came in to start numbing the donor area. Although getting shots in the back of does hurt a lot, he was very polite and communicative. He made sure I was thoroughly numb. In all there was about 5-6 shots that really hurt. I consider it a small price to pay. It’s a strange sensation to have the back of your head numb. It feels a lot like a big lump of clay back there, or like having a piece of lead connected to the back of your head.
With my donor area numb, Dr. Keene proceeded to cut away the strip. I could not feel a thing, so I wasn’t sure exactly how she did it. She did ask me if I was a weight lifter because there was some large blood vessels in the back of my head. Incidentally I haven’t lifted weights for about 10 years, but I used to on a regular basis. I think those large blood vessels did cause a bit of excess bleeding. While Dr. Keene was still working on my donor area she was communicating with her other nurses who where cutting the grafts, constantly asking about graft counts. I was averaging between 30-35 grafts per cubic cm. She wanted to make sure she had enough grafts before she sewed up the donor area.
As she sewed up the donor area I could feel the stretching of the skin, but no pain. Next, the anesthesiologist moved onto numbing my hairline. Although that had put on some topical anesthetic before, the needles were still painful. You just kind of have to grin your teeth and bare it. Again, there were about 5-6 painful shots. But after the shots, the top of my head was completely numb. It was at this point when Dr. Keene started making the incisions where the grafts were to be placed for my hairline. She spent some time on this and when she was done it was time for a quick 10 minute lunch/bathroom break. The nurses made me a good turkey sandwich with chips and cookies. When I went to the bathroom I totally understood why there were no mirrors. If a patient looked in the mirror and saw a lot of blood they could easily faint. Lots of opportunities for bad situations with a mirror in the bathroom.
12:00-12:30PM After my break I was still feeling good. The Valium makes time fly by quickly. When I got back in the chair they put on another movie and as I watched, it felt like Dr. Keene and one other lady was inserting the grafts into my hairline. It seemed like after the other nurse was done, Dr. Keene went over and made the final touches on that side. I’m just guessing because I really couldn’t see. All the while the nurses were still checking my vitals and still checking on graft counts.
Once they were finished with my hairline, I really started loosing track of time. I know that they did put a couple more anesthetic shots in my crown when I started to tell them I was starting to feel a little pain. Before I knew it they were basically done and sent me to the bathroom and back to the changing room. While in the changing room they still did some more touching up and adding of grafts. They read me the post op instructions, but it was quite hard to concentrate on what they were saying. Also, while I was in the waiting room I had some good conversation with Dr. Keene about the future of HT and HM, she was telling me about some exciting new studies she was working on. This all made me feel even more comfortable about choosing her as my doctor. In my mind she is truly at the top of her class…always trying to advance the profession.
6:30 PM Out the door. I was in the office for almost 10 hours, but it truly felt more like 3-4 with all the Valium. So, don’t fear a surgery that may last 8-10 hours.
I changed my clothes and met my grandmother in the waiting room. To cover my head the nurses gave me a type of hair net, with a few extras and some gauze in a kit to take home. I still hadn’t seen what the results looked like…I was starting to get anxious. I slowly walked to the car and rode with my grandma back to her house. She was nice enough to let me stay with her for a week while I healed. If only everyone could be so lucky to have family like this. Well, upon arriving at the house I made a b-line to the nearest bathroom to checkout the doctor’s handiwork. I couldn’t have been more thrilled! This hairline was EXACTLY what I wanted and my once bald spot didn’t look balding anymore. Just by glancing in the mirror I look almost 10 years younger. Now I just can’t wait for the hairs to grow all the way in.
I followed the post-op instructions and took a pain pill with dinner and another pill with a snack afterwards. The pain pills that were prescribed did a great job, I could basically feel nothing, and what I consider a bonus is that about after an hour of taking a pill I easily drift into a nap for a few hours. This makes the recovery hours go by very quickly and easily. It also makes it easy to sleep in a chair.
From my experience with taking these pain pills I would NEVER drive anywhere while taking them.
This morning (a week after surgery) the stitches came out. I was still sensitive back there, so I had some pain when they removed them. Other than the pain, everything was routine and the donor was healing up as it should. I had a quick meeting with Dr. Keene after who took a quick look and confirmed everything was going well. At this point in the healing process there is quite a bit of scabs surrounding the grafts. To get rid of the scabs, Dr. Keene suggested I use either Neosporin or Vaseline at the graft sites and leave it there overnight. So, when I gently shampoo my hair the next morning the Neosporin will help aid the scabs in releasing from the scalp. So before bed tonight I’ve gently applied a small amount of Neosporin to everywhere I have scabs.
These last two days I’ve found myself washing my hair twice-a-day, the Neosporin cream is almost completely out of my hair and about 75% of the scabs are gone. I suspect it will be another two days before all the scabs are washed away. In the meantime I find myself gently running my fingertips over the scabs of my crown and temples. I know it’s probably not good to do this but if feels funny having all these little bumps on my head.
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