My Surgical Experience
Monday, July 11th 2011,
After having a good breakfast and shower (it was to be my last real shower for a while), I headed to Dr Rahal’s office. It really is a mere 5 minute walk from the Foxbar Guesthouse. I arrived at the office at 6:30am as this was the time I was asked to arrive. Upon entering the facility, I was immediately greeted by Mike, Dr Rahal’s Head Nurse. He is an extremely compassionate, friendly and understanding fellow who has an incredible ability to make you feel instantly at ease. This is of course a feeling you want knowing that you are about to embark on a life changing procedure.
After the initial Welcomes and Hellos, he presented me with some forms to fill out. This took about 20 minutes and it was pretty straight forward. He then invited to follow him to the back of the facility for some inaugural before pictures. I was then greeted by Dr Rahal and invited to follow him to his office so that we could discuss the procedure and draw the hairline. At this point, I personally did not have any questions for Dr Rahal about the procedure (having had all my questions already thoroughly answered by him over the course of two different in house consultations). We therefore discussed primarily the placement of my new hairline. Knowing that Dr Rahal has an established and well earned reputation for his hairline designs and creations; I therefore had no worries towards putting my trust in the hands of this knowledgeable and well respected Hair Transplant Surgeon. After some carefully calculated measurements and examination of my facial features, Dr Rahal drew a well placed and well shaped hairline that would suit me not only today but would also be very appropriate for me 20 years down the road. This task complete, I was once again greeted by Mike and invited to follow him to the back of the facility for a second set of inaugural pictures (which, this time, would highlight the design of my new hairline) and also to change for the forthcoming surgery that was to begin shortly thereafter.
I was then escorted to the Surgery Room for the start of my transplant. At the outset, I was politely asked to sit and make myself comfortable in the surgical chair after which Mike proceeded to wrap a blood pressure cuff onto my arm and attach a pulse monitor to one of my fingers. I was also given, at this point, a mild tranquilizer by way of syringe (although this was, at least for me, just a detail for I was already very calm and relaxed because I already knew I was in good hands). It should be mentioned that this tranquilizer does help you sleep which is a good thing because a Hair Transplant is, after all, generally a long procedure lasting several hours. Dr Rahal then entered the operating room and asked if everything was alright and if I was ready to begin with the procedure.
The procedure itself was very straight forward and followed all the customary and traditional steps that we, that is to say those who are familiar with Hair Transplant Surgery, have come to expect. These would include, of course, the administering of the anesthetic, the removal of the donor strip (which is immediately placed in a cold saline solution and handed to skilled technicians for dissection into either, 1, 2, 3 or 4 follicular units with the aid of microscopes), the creation of the recipient sites and, finally, the placement of the grafts.
Throughout the entire process, I felt absolutely no pain or discomfort minus, of course, the initial freezing process which takes up barely 1% of the total time of the entire procedure. I was actually even surprised when I asked Dr Rahal if he was almost finished removing the donor strip only to find out that the suturing, at this point, had already been completed. This is an example of just how pain free 99% of the procedure was.
Shortly after posing this question, Dr Rahal undertook the task of creating the recipient sites. I did not bother him at this point with any questions for I could sense that he was extremely focused on the task at hand. At this point of the surgery, and only at this point of the surgery, I felt that I should remain quiet and refrain from asking any questions for there was a feeling in the room of a concentrated effort on the part of the entire team. Everybody present (there were nine in all at this point, including Dr. Rahal) was incredibly focused on their individual responsibilities. There was a genuine sense that each individual in attendance was actually there for the sole purpose of helping me achieve my goal.
Dr Rahal worked nonstop for over an hour and a half creating thousands of recipient sites for the initial planting and would return for an additional 45 minutes in the afternoon to complete the creation of the remainder of the sites needed to accommodate the final tally for the number of grafts that were harvested. During this time, the rest of the team was either concentrating diligently on their responsibility of microscopically preparing the individual grafts or focusing their attention to the meticulous task of placing these grafts into the prepared recipient sites. By the end of the day, I would receive in all 5604 grafts. This consisted of 814 one hair grafts, 3171 two hair grafts, 1616 three hair grafts and 3 four hair grafts. This amount of grafts was produced from a strip measuring 44 square centimeters which would, in the end, equal 12016 hairs. I had asked Dr. Rahal to try and obtain the greatest amount of grafts that he could safely remove from my donor area, this was the result. By the end of the procedure, Dr Rahal managed to cover 97 square centimeters of balding area which would translate into an average of approximately 43 grafts per square centimeter. This number, however, does not, in actual fact, give us a true representation of the final product for certain areas of this balding surface (primarily the hairline) where in fact transplanted with a density of over 50 grafts per square centimeter. It is the conscientious use and strategic placement of the 2 and 3 hair grafts in the less densely packed areas that will help to create the overall illusion of density for my particular case.
Consequently, I believe that it is crucial before undergoing hair transplant surgery for one to truly comprehend that no matter how you slice it or add it up, at the end of the day, you will still only have the same amount of hair on your head that you started with. However, in the hands of a skilled, knowledgeable, caring and artistic Hair Transplant Surgeon, such as Dr Rahal, the amount of hair that you have on your head at the start of the day can actually appear to multiply by the end. My many thanks to you, Dr Rahal, and to your dedicated and devoted team of nurses, technicians and patient coordinators, you all managed to incredibly execute your individual responsibilities together in such a way that the entire procedure from start to finish could only be described as being a true crescendo of perfect harmony. Bravo!