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|Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) Discuss and share your photos, experiences and results related to the Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) hair transplant procedure, including its advantages, disadvantages and who is an ideal candidate.|
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4301 FUE with Dr. Lorenzo (2016.06)
This forum and members helped me come to the decision to make a change for myself. My work kept me too busy to spend meaningful time on the forum until recently. I'll share my experience so that it can help others make choices if they're seeking a change!
I'll make a separate post for the following topics so you can skip things that don't grab you.
(I'll make more updates when there's something of substance to show.)
Last edited by redcut; 08-04-2016 at 02:24 AM.
Over the past few years my hair has been receding at a noticeable rate. I’m now 45 and spotted the start of it back in my late teens. It was very slow back then however.
I started seeing a big enough change about 10 years ago prompting me to change my hair style from combing back to combing forward. I also kept it short. I said I’d never consider anything radical and let nature take its course. Everyone in my family says its okay you look fine. My paternal grandfather had a full head of hair. My material grandfather was bald with nothing less than a Norwood 5a. I’m somewhere around a Norwood 3-4.
The only mainstream radical solution in the early 2000s was to do FUT. I didn’t want this because the scar it would leave. Plus I thought some day I’d just shave my head if needed.
A few years ago I realized I couldn’t have a clean shaved head. I have this small benign skin condition that sometimes produces random dry bumps. Right now I probably have a couple dozen on my body, but no one would know it because they’re hard to see. I know they’re there however. They started to appear under my hairline, stick around for a few weeks, and then disappear. I forget the scientific name because there’s a family of them – it could be seborrheic keratosis.
When I realized I was getting these on my already enormous XL skull it would look like a small moon with impact points all around it. This prompted me to look into hair treatment again. To my surprise FUE had become more widely practiced. This was growing in popularity because it leaves no scars!
I spent a couple years researching this. Trying to understand what I would do if I wanted to do it. I absolutely did not want to look like a doll head with plugs.
While this was going on, I started to keep my hair almost crew cut. It was only noticeable if I let it grow out (thicker vs. thinner patches). I started wearing ballcaps all the time. Once in awhile I wouldn’t and people at work would stare at me, sometimes saying “Hey you look… different without your hat on.“
This was just of many things that started making me depressed. I felt like I was losing my identity. When I walked into a room for years and years, it was sometimes "Hey it’s that tall guy.” It was typically however “Hey, it’s that redhead guy.” My mental image of myself was not who I saw in the mirror every day.
For a long time I didn’t do anything because of the vanity factor and the cost. My family is conservative. Every bit of money I get usually goes forward into some savings or investment. This would be completely opposite of that… doing something about my head.
Still it was depressing. Every day became a “bad hair day”. Did I want to live out the rest of my life as a bad hair day? Waking up with a poor image of your physical self can affect the rest of your day. And then never having any way to express myself through a hair style -- to look different from a day of hiking vs. a day in a suit at a special event. It would always be the same short as short can be cut with no style.
It’s like being told you have all these fancy clothes… dresses, pants, jeans, skirts, shorts… and one day you realize all you can wear for the rest of your life is that one tan pair of shorts. That’s it.
I looked up doctors across the whole world. I found their before & after shots. How much they’d cost. How much the recovery time was. I kept this all to myself and didn’t tell anyone. Well I did tell my wife somewhat. I was depressed a lot and I told her why… I felt I was losing my identity and choices. I didn’t look like who I always knew myself to be and there was nothing to do about it.
I found 3-4 possible doctors. These doctors were not your flashy California guys… these were some of the top doctors on the planet.
BTW, while looking I realized a ton of people have supplemental procedures to maintain their head of hair. The only ones I can quote are famous people because they’re the ones with the most photos on the web. Actors catch receding hairlines early so no one notices. People that have had them you know: Matthew McConaughey, Elon Musk, Gordon Ramsey, there’s more than you’d think.
I knew I was going to be selling my house soon, so I rationalized the money it would take for the procedure like winning the lottery and not rolling all the money back into re-investment or savings.
With the house sold, I paid off existing debt, gave a 3rd to my wife to do whatever she wanted with it (which included paying off her debt), put the other third into Savings. What remained was my small Easter Egg guilt-free.
Some would tell me to invest it right away to my retirement fund. Would I rather be happy retiring 5-10 years earlier because I had good savings and living every day from now as a “bad hair day” or would I want to make my life better now… while I’m still relatively young? I could enjoy the next twenty years or more with a variety of options, style, and even the different sensations accompanied with hair length.
I found a few doctors. They weren’t as expensive as ones in the US because they were in Europe. I told my wife I wanted to look into this. She was always a little resistant. Didn’t want me to waste the money on something that she though might not make me happy in the end. However she has had hair problems herself so she could sympathize.
I had to rule out doctors in Turkey because of the conflict in the surrounding countries. So I looked at Feriduni in Belgium and Lorenzo in Madrid. Feriduni was a bit more expensive while Lorenzo documented everything with his patients. So I could see dozens of before & after. Video too, not just photos. His results were what I wanted.
To make sure I was doing the right thing, I made an appointment with a fairly good doctor in the Bay Area. The consult said the procedure would cost $14k for 1500-2000 grafts. This implied two procedures for a 4000 graft result – the second one a year later (and more money). Plus there was no guarantee of the quality because I have yet to see as many examples as Lorenzo has.
I decided a year ago to put the plan into motion with Lorenzo. Reading more about him I realized he was one of the leading doctors using the FUE technique. He yields a vastly higher count of grafts, double what the California doctor said she could do. Plus the cost of procedures with him drops the more grafts you need and stays that way if you return to him years later.
A year ago I doubled down on supplements and took Minoxidil for the back of my head and a Finasteride pill daily (Propecia). I was aware of the side affects. I needed to know if it did anything for a year to help me decided if I was going to Madrid.
BTW, I didn’t know for sure if I was going to Madrid until I stepped on that plane last week. I felt like my wife was trying to indirectly tell me to not do it. It was yet another way I felt isolated.
I prepared everything by myself to fly across the world. I also had to calm my wife’s nerves about my flight blowing up or terrorists taking over a city. I arranged for a new passport with a Global Entry pass (a detailed background check on me to prove I’m not evil which lets me skip some security lines). I would be going to a country where I know no one and can’t speak their language (I want to learn Spanish and have tried. It’s been difficult to find a daily reoccurrence with my current job situation though).
All in all… I think I went way out of my comfort zone to make a change in my personal life.
I kept this goal photo on my phone for a year and looked at it whenever I had to make any decisions around this procedure.
Last edited by redcut; 08-11-2016 at 12:40 PM.
This trip was me jumping off the deep end with little by way of a safety net. I researched this forum and the web to cover my bases though.
The trip would be 5 hours from San Francisco to Atlanta, then 9 hours to Madrid overnight, arriving at 8:30am in Spain. At 7:30pm I’d visit the clinic for a face-to-face consult with Dr. Lorenzo before the next day’s operation. After spending 2 full days at the clinic I’d leave Madrid at 11:30am for the return flight. Both connections in Atlanta were under 2 hours.
Things I did before the trip
Arriving in Madrid
When I got off the airplane I quickly realized my international service I got for my cellphone was only for making calls TO Europe, not SENDING calls within Europe. So I was without cellphone! Imagine yourself being without any form of communication in a foreign speaking country!
I knew there was probably a phone card booth somewhere in the airport. I could swap my sim card for a European phone sim and be able to make calls and internet. (I told my bank last month I was going overseas to guarantee I could use my Visa card there.).
I knew I was probably going to spend way too much going to the first vendor off the plane in a tourist trap, but I didn’t want to risk not finding another place. Or worse, having to find some local cellphone store and try to explain what I wanted.
So I went to the first (and only) booth I saw where a girl sold me a sim card for $200 (!!) Euros. I think it meant I could make 200 minutes or something obscenely small. Still, it was worth the price for communication “insurance”.
Then I found out my phone wouldn’t accept the card... WTF! I had unlocked it a year ago, so it should have. She couldn’t complete the install so she scribbled down some notes about how to finish it if I figured out the unlock issues. She couldn’t do it -- I had to go to a local shop to have them figure it out.
So I was back to square one... in a strange airport with no way to call anyone. All I had was the pre-scheduled Shuttle that was supposed to arrive for me at the pickup outside of Terminal 1.
I went through Customs surprisingly quick. Then I went out to the Arrival Pick-Up area. Everything was in Spanish. I followed the Shuttle icon signs down the sidewalk however. It took me all the way to Terminal 2. But they told me Terminal 1 in the instructions. I didn’t want to miss my shuttle! How would I get to the hotel -- who would I call? How could I call?
I walked all the way back to Terminal 1, past where I came out to find the Terminal 1 shuttle pick up. There wasn’t one.
I then walked back to Terminal 2 and the shuttle area I saw before. There was a big list of shuttles and their associated hotels. My hotel wasn’t listed. Every time I saw a shuttle drive by I tried to make sure it didn’t saw “Hotel Amura”.
I checked my watch -- it had been 20 minutes at least since landed. I wondered if they drove past and didn’t see me so they gave up.
A brown van, not a bulky shuttle, drove up and I saw Hotel Amura on the side! A young guy hopped out and went through the motions by opening the back doors for my luggage (a small roller suitcase I packed wisely so I wouldn’t have to check anything and risk losing it). He then opened the front door for me (not the middle seat).
I sat in it with a quiet sigh of relief. He then drove to another terminal where we waited for 15-20 minutes for other people to show up and get on. I hopped off the shuttle at the hotel and fumbled off a happy “Gracias” (I read earlier that tips aren’t needed in Europe so I didn’t worry about that etiquette.)
The Hotel Amura is where the clinic has you stay overnight for the procedure.
They had a shuttle which I could ask to take me to the Clinic as well as the Airport (pick up and drop off). So I potentially didn’t have to deal with any major language issues or pocket change issues. The Shuttle almost always had a different driver.
During the first few hours there I spent a long time trying to figure out my cellphone problems.
I connected to the hotel WiFi, so I could get to the internet (which defaults to google.es Spanish because of the local address). I started looking up why my phone wasn’t unlocked and then how I could get my new sim card to work.
In addition to my current cellphone I brought my old iPhone 4 as back up in case I lost my phone. I could put the sim card in that, because I knew that phone was unlocked. But Apple doesn’t make it easy to change sim cards. You have to poke a small hole in the side to eject the sim card tray. I didn’t have anything small enough. I looked for a sewing kit in the hotel room. No luck.
I went down to the front desk and asked them for a pin. They didn’t know what I was asking. They thought I wanted an ink pen and not a needle pin. When they rummaged through their office drawer I spotted a box of staples! I could bend one of those to poke into the Apple sim tray.
I pointed and said yes! They gave me the stapler while he also got the box of stables. Trying to take a single staple out of the stapler, I stapled my finger - ow. I grabbed a couple more from the staple box and thanked his confused look.
Upstairs I put a travel band-aid on my finger. Then I bent the staple into a straight line and started poking the Apple tray. The soft staple metal kept bending under my pressure to pop the tray. After several minutes I successfully popped the tray.
I tried the sim card and while the iPhone accepted it, I couldn’t figure out how to initialize the sim card to connect to the cell tower service.
Then I remembered unlocking my current phone months ago and went back to that original email. Sure enough... it gave me a code I had to enter to unlock it each time I used a new company.
I put the new sim in my current phone, used the unlock code. I started looking online and at the receipt the woman gave me to understand what the company’s name was and how to initialize the card.
Long story short... It took me awhile to read through the Spanish forums for this cell. I found out how to go deep into the phone settings and add a bunch of service information. APN service for the provider “SUOP”. A couple hours later I had my phone working!
After all of that I hardly used the service the whole time I was there! I used the internet (via cell not WiFi) to check email while I was at the clinic between sessions. You can’t exactly call yourself, so I still don’t know my phone number for that card!
Food for Thought
The guy who drove me to the Clinic the next day was Pablo (my 2nd drive there since I had a consult the previous evening). He had spoke decent English and we talked a lot during the short drive. He said the clinic was really well-known and worldwide. He mentioned driving someone from Australia to it once. He also said he was thinking about getting something done himself. He didn’t look bad, but was maybe the early stages of receding.
When he told his mom she laughed warmly saying his Uncle had it done at that clinic. He had no idea! He couldn’t tell! He was impressed.
I didn’t have Pablo again as a driver, however he was always there late at night at the front desk. The front desk always had 1-2 people who spoke English.
I asked him if Room Service spoke English when I came back from my 7pm consult. He kind of winced and shrugged, then said he could take my order if I knew what I wanted.
When I was in my room earlier one of the first things I did was look at the room service menu to see what they offered. I didn’t want to go out with a scary looking head or try to communicate down in the restaurant. I might have missed some local variety and opportunities. It was better to just relax in the room for the next day.
I fumbled out the words Sandwich de Pollo, trying to say something respectfully in their language. He understood with a smile and went to put the order in the kitchen for my room.
That sandwich was so good! I don’t know if it was because I was hungry or it wasn’t part of some American food business infrastructure of frozen this-or-that, then shipped and cooked. It was flayed open with toasted bread slices, chopped lettuce, bacon, and cheese. There was a thyme spread on it I think. I dressed it up more with a side mustard packet. The fries were the wide steak fries. I popped the other packets of ketchup, mayo, and BBQ for selective dipping flavors.
You’ll laugh, but I did this all three nights when I got back late from the Clinic! Each time it was someone else who brought it up each time and one time the guy said something like “It’s good, yes?” I grinned, thanked him, and took it.
The second time I was mildly skeptical the sandwich was going to be good like it was before, but I knew it would fill me. And it was almost 11pm at night when I got back to the Hotel after my first big day. Damn if it wasn’t good a second time.
My third and last time I was getting a bit tired of it. ...but g’Damn I devoured that tasty dish a third time in a row!
I ate at the breakfast bar every morning downstairs where they had that wicked pineapple juice. I don’t know why you can’t get pineapple juice as easily as they have it in Spain.
What you see in the first image was odd at first. All the light switches are at hip height and big (neat). The weird thing… nothing in the room had power! I went back downstairs and the front desk said I had to put my room card in the wall slot to allow power in the room. With it in everything works, with it out nothing works. So you can’t charge anything when not in the room.
The last two shots are from my window. If you look at the google map link above, you’ll see it had a pool on the roof. I never visited it – was too distracted with everything else.
The shower door in the shower was strange! It’s one big hinged “window”. Without anything beyond it, it was easy for the bidet to get sprayed.
From this map link... you can see it’s only a 4 minute drive northeast of the Hotel:
This next link is a 3D view outside of the clinic:
Here’s a link to the Dr. Lorenzo’s profile if you’re not familiar with him:
Dr. Lorenzo WikiBiopedia
The images are ones I took at 7:30am waiting for it to open
Clinic - Day 1
1st event - The first thing we did that day after signing some forms... take Before photos. Then they buzzed off my hair. They marked spots on the head before and after the cut to section off areas for where to extract grafts. Lastly, they dyed the donor area hair black to see them better for extraction.
2nd event - The first extraction of 1000 grafts from side of head by his Technicians. He was targeting 4000 grafts for the complete procedure! That’s a massive amount.
BTW, except for Dr. Lorenzo, everyone else is a female (so all the technicians who do the extractions).
One of them was from Manchester UK, where she met Dr. Lorenzo when he worked there for 3 years so his daughter could attend a UK school. So she was very easy to talk to however I didn’t see her until the afternoon extraction session. Some others had a little bit of English while most didn’t.
I laid down on my side and stomach for 90-120 minutes during the extractions. Technicians do the extractions by local numbing using this distracting vibrating pad to strike the needle into you scalp for numbing it. I ended up grunting and gripping the side of the table if I started to lose my zen-patience after the tenth or twentieth poke. After that I usually didn’t feel anything specific to the local area.
I did sense the activity around my head though. It felt like my head was taped up and they kept trying to pull or tap at the tape as they pulled out 1, 2, or 3 haired follicles. Lorenzo later told me he puts most of the 3-hair follicles in the front of the scalp for thicker hair.
I squirmed a couple times during the extraction. Several times this made the point of telling me I should clearly just say “Pain” or “Ow” to let them know if I felt even the slightest bit of pain. If I was in pain, then my heart rate would increase. This would increase blood flow throughout the body, which in turn would make my head bleed more. And they didn’t want that.
They gave me a little relaxing pill before each session. They said it should make me feel sleepy. When it didn’t Lorenzo looked at me up and down then grinned, “This guy’s big! One won’t work, give him another.”
They had music in the operation room. Depending on who was there, they would ask me if I had a preference. At first I said no, then later I said the ‘80s on Day 2 because I was feeling pretty worn down. Did I mention Lorenzo loves his heavy metal music?
3rd event - After a short break and a stretch, Dr. Lorenzo appears and does the first transplanting. He sketch the hairline based on my age and head shape. 4-finger widths from the eyebrows up the center forehead, then 8cm on my temples to create a gentle “M” hairline. This was a more flat and a less dynamic “M” shape I originally envisioned. After a year of waiting for this I didn’t want a drastic change, just thicker! He said he could go for 9cm on the sides... although he didn’t sound happy with that solution. Based on his experience I trusted his opinion though. When I saw it later at the hotel I became comfortable with it.
When I returned home later I realized what I was looking for a lower peak in the center of my head. My natural hairline still has some growth there. If I go back for a second visit, I’ll talk to him about this small lowering or extension. If I don’t do this, then I’ll most likely have to shave off the strays as my hair grows out.
4th event - European lunch takeout choices. I picked a salad and chicken earlier. They show up in travel tin plates with a paper top (like a Jiffy Popcorn container). The salad was just onions, ice berg lettuce, and tuna(!). Tomatoes too, but I ignored those. They asked if I wanted some bread then held out this bag full of kid-sized football bread. The chicken I didn't eat... I was too full. It was a quarter baked chicken with fries. I ate the ice cream cone for dessert though! Other patients as well as the Technicians hung out in the small kitchen for the hour during my break.
Hardly anyone spoke English so I felt very isolated. Not in a bad way, just that I didn’t have to make conversation and could be lost in my own thoughts.
One of the times I was in the kitchen I noticed several “Thank You” letters on the wall to Dr. Lorenzo. Then I realized they weren’t from patients... they were from other doctors. And they were those other top doctors I was going to pick from! They were thanking him for his teaching them.
With a few minutes left, I stretched in the locker room. This is when I took the first pictures in my blue scrubs.
They used a red pen to mark my temples instead of black, so don’t mistake that for a long wound or cut.
This is the dotted line you see across my forehead in the photos. He did just enough transplanting to make sure the line was marked for the 2-days it took to fill the whole area.
Clinic - Day 1 (completed)
I felt relatively okay by the end of the day at 10:45pm. I have my left half of my head complete. Tomorrow will be the right half and my crown on the back.
Before I left they handed me some pills for the night and a large pillow cover to deal with any bleeding that occurred while sleeping. They gave strong instructions on how to sleep to prevent damage to the day’s work.
As you can see the pillow cover was needed!
Clinic - Day 2 (completed)
Here are photos of me at the end of the procedure. You can see the swelling in my forehead -- the fluids used to numb me, which slowly moved down over 3-5 days. The top of my head is now transplanted with hair taken from my sides.
The whole experience was surreal. Towards the end of the trip and into the first couple of weeks back home, I felt extremely accomplished. It was this weird “high”… I did a game-changer and I had big results for my efforts. Other things in life can be so slow to evolve. This was an overnight change. And I looked at myself in the mirror for the first time in years and didn’t cringe or frown. I felt like I myself from years ago.
I completely recommend Dr. Lorenzo for anyone who is seeking a change.
Sadly, I rushed through the airport to get to my gate and didn’t have the time to see all the shops that had at Madrid’s airport. I swear I had to walk through a shop to continue to the gates. It felt like a mall.
The Clinic provided me with a “Doctor’s Letter” explaining the procedure I had done. This was to let me keep my hat on my head when going through Security. Madrid was relatively okay asking me to only lift up the edges of my hat. In Atlanta, that insisted on removing my hat completely.
The flight back was stressful a few times. Lorenzo and his Technicians told me repeatedly to not disturb my head or bump it. I kept my hat on at all times except when I went into the airplane restroom to spray by hair every 30-60 minutes. One time I bumped my head exiting because the restroom door opened on the outer curve of the plane instead of facing inwards. I panicked, uncertain what this did to me. I ducked back into the restroom and quickly took photos.
I paid to have wifi access while on the long trip. This gave me the chance to send Dr. Lorenzo photos and a description of what happened. He replied before the plane landed in Atlanta reassuring me nothing bad occurred if there was no bleeding. I only had a sore head.
A side note about travel... the food was better going to Europe and the wifi cost less. Going back to the US, was more expensive and less tasty!
Another side note... I booked a seat at the back of the plane to be close to the restrooms. Fewer people to walk by every 1-2x an hour. I completely lucked out on BOTH flights back and had no one take the seat next to me!
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