Hi all, here is my story so far and it has only just begun. I hope to update this thread with developments as and when required.
I am 37 years old. I have serious hair loss and it has already gone bald. I will post my existing pictures tonight.
Unable to bear the trouble of balding, I have finally decided to look for Hair Transplantation.
I live in Chennai, India.
After having gone through multiple forums on internet, I realized one thing very clearly. HT is mainly surgeon-centric rather than hospital-centric. In other words, it all depends on the skills of the surgeon rather than which hospital the surgeon works for.
So based on the various recommendations in the forums, I decided to consult with 4 surgeons: Dr. Ramachandran (Apollo Cosmetic, Chennai), Dr Madhu (Hyderabad), Dr Jayanthi Ravindran (Kauvery Aesthetic, Chennai) and Dr Radha Rani (Vizag).
I sent email to Dr Madhu & Dr Radha Rani attaching my existing pictures.
Dr. Madhu's clinic replied saying I would need 2500-3000 grafts to cover 30-40% area, and they would use FUT only. The charge is Rs 50 per graft. Shaving of recipient area (and donor area as well???) is mandatory. They charge Rs 20,000 extra if you opt for NOT SHAVING, however, it is Dr. Madhu who will take the final decision on this. I even
called them on phone to clarify certain things they mentioned in their reply. They would put a headband to wear after the surgery.
Dr. Radha Rani is yet to reply to my mail, which I am hoping she would do today.
I had consultation appointment with Dr. Jayanthi Ravindran last week but due to her busy schedule, it got postponed. And now, due to some emergency, she has cancelled all appointments and would issue fresh appointments only from tomorrow.
Now coming to Dr. Ramachandran (Apollo Cosmetic, Chennai).
I took an appointment with him and consulted with him last week. After meeting him, I felt totally pleased with the way he dealt with the situation, explanations given...etc. He spent almost 1.5 hours with me. All through, he was explaining me my current situation, what can be covered...etc. I had about 15 questions written down to ask him, which he happily answered. He is the first doctor for me to physically consult with regarding hair transplantation.
He appeared to be a thourough professional.
After having looked at the current (hair) situation, he told me that I lost too much of hair and there are only 3 options: 1) Shave the head off totally and live that way 2) Wear a wig 3) Go for hair transplantation.
Even for the hair transplantation, he said he could only cover upto some area that he thinks is most important to cover. He examined my donor area, and thankfully, he said it is above average. According to him, he could place some 2,500 grafts as a rough estimate, but it all depends on the 'availability' of the donor grafts. He said if quality donor grafts are available and if I am okay to go for more grafts financially, then he had absolutely no
issues with planting more grafts, even if it takes a couple of more hours to do the work.
Dr Ramachandran also said he performs the whole surgery himself and would not leave it to his assistants. For this reason, he would not do more than one surgery in a day.
He clearly marked with a marker on my head as to which areas he could cover in HT so that I get an idea. He also said he would mainly use FUT but he could also use FUE as a combination, if situation demands. So it would be more of FUT and some minor FUE. The cost per graft in FUT is Rs 60 and it is Rs 80 in FUE. Here are some of the questions I asked him, and his answers:
1. Can I treat this hair loss with medicines without surgery?
Ans: Not possible, considering the amount of (hair) loss I incurred already. Do not waste your money on such medication
2. Do you mandate that the donor/recipient area be shaved? I am asking because, to me, not shaving donor area is of paramount importance.
Ans: No. I will not shave it.
3. The donor hair is different from recipient hair in terms of its style. How would you ensure it doesn't look odd when transplanted?
Ans: We will plant it in such a direction that it grows normally and looks normal. We will style it.
4. Why can't you cover my entire bald area?
Ans: Covering the existing bald area 100% is not possible since we can only extract 'n' number of grafts from donor area. So, we would try and cover the most critical areas, and that includes the front area. It all depends on the 'availability' of donor grafts and the financial implications (because more grafts means more cost to the patient). If, after the HT, after 6 months, if I see there is a possibility of planting more grafts, I would consider doing so.
5. Duration of the surgery?
Ans: Typically 5- 6 hours.
6. During the surgery and post-op?
Ans: You have to come at around 11 AM, after having applied a solution (given by the hospital) the previous day night and on the day of the surgery. Apply some hair dye 1 week before the surgery so that identification of grafts is easier (I have good amount of grey hair). On the day of surgery, have a light breakfast. Post the surgery, you can leave as normal. Do not drive yourself post the surgery, since the surgery may have some effects immediately such as sore head...etc which might prevent you from proper driving.
7. Do I need to take life long medication and only the shampoo prescribed by the doctor?
Ans: Not at all. Just take prescribed medication for about 15 days and that's all.
8. Scar in donor area?
Ans: Since it will be FUT, the scar in donor area will be permanent, but I will ensure that it is not seen (covered with existing hair). However, it will be visible if the head is completely shaven.
9. What about the results?
Ans: So far there has been no one that he operated on, who did not have results. (he showed me the pre- and post photos of his patients). There is no reason not to have the hair re-grown after the HT surgery. The planted hair will shed off in 3-4 weeks and will start to regrow. That would be the permanent growth. It will grow at 2 mm per month (did I get it right? I forgot the number he gave)
10. What about shock loss some people talk about?
Ans: you don't have to worry about it since you have nothing to lose. You lost most of it already.
11. What are the long term side effects of having HT done, in terms of harmonal changes...etc?
Ans: Absolutely none. I have been doing it for the past 30 years and no one has reported any. The only side effect you will see is the scar.
The way Dr Ramachandran assessed and patiently answered all my questions, spending almost 1.5 hours exclusively with me, I really felt he is the one to go for. Also, Dr. Jayanthi Ravindran, who is also known as a good HT surgeon, had in fact worked under Dr Ramachandran, according to her website. Dr Ramachandran is a very senior surgeon, doing cosmetic surgery (not just HT).
However, I am looking for suggestions from the forum members in terms of which surgeon to chose.
One of the things I considered is to avoid travelling to another city for this, simply because of the logistical issues, and also, if done locally (in Chennai), I could consult with the doctor immediately in case of any complications.
So here is the current status:
Dr.Madhu - Got a reply from them, they asked me to come to HYDERABAD for a personal consultation and more accurate assessment. They also said slots for the surgery are already booked until 3rd week of June. Somehow, I felt their way of advertising (considering howmany times I see Dr madhu on TV) and the content of their website, they seem pretty 'commercial'.
Dr. Jayanthi Ravindran - Appointment got cancelled twice. Do I need to consult with her anymore? I don't know.
Dr. Ramachandra - I had a detailed consultation with him as described above. Is he the one to go for? Especially, for his experience levels and the fact that he is in Chennai?
Dr. Radha Rani - She promised to reply today (10th June 2014) after seeing my photos. Is it worth travelling all the way to Vizag to get HT done by Dr Radha Rani? Many forum members say so.
So guys, please advise me further course of action, mainly, which surgeon to choose.
I promised to Dr Ramachandran that I will confirm my slot with him in a couple of days time. His slots are also available only in 3rd week of June.
Thanks for your help.