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Altius Hotel, Chandigarh India 24/05/2013 1st Day post Operation. Background: Hi, I’m a 30 year old Male from Europe who has been losing his hair since the age of 20. On the Norwood scale, I’m a 5. How did I end up choosing FUE Surgery, then flying to a city in northwest India on my own and undergoing a 2 day procedure for FUE Hair transplant of 4346 Grafts? Let me tell you my story. I’m going to be 100% honest here with you all. In my 20’s like most guys, I have had my ups and downs. good times, bad times in all my area’s in life. From my family, career, making and losing money, to relationships with women, losing friends along the way, travelling and everything in between. By the age of 23, and graduated from University, I knew that my hair was receding, however it was but on the backburner and ignored the until I was 27. Next it was decided it was time to take action, and I started researching more about hair loss. Hours were spent reading about all the types of solutions and crazy gimmicks on the market, including snake oils, and future coming treatments. I spent hours on the forums reading about “amazing breakthroughs” in the future treatments sections, however like most of these, they’re or they were in testing phase, and were never heard of again. The recurring theme was 4-5 years in the future. I was convincing myself to hold off until some topical or treatment or tablet would come available, anxiously refreshing threads, and looking for updates on these breakthroughs. I tried not to think of Hair Transplant as the only alternative, as I guess the cost and thought of going under the knife unsettled me. I read about laser therapies, concealers, and FUT, FUE, SMP, even hair pieces and wigs etc. The only topical that people kept talking about that had any effect was Minoxidil, combined with Finasteride, and so off I went in search of miracles to cure this, and to be honest, both products did help stop or slow down my hair loss. I believe Finasteride after 6-12 months did help stop hair loss, and my hair thickened up in my crown and mid scalp areas. It didn’t reverse the ticking clock, but it helped stop it. I also modified my diet eating better, more exercise, and taking more vitamins and Omega oils, and biotin. During the whole way from my mid 20’s until now, I often spent hours trying to fix a few hairs in my front, or shooting off to the toilet in work worried about my hair, thinking that I was looking stupid, while looking in the mirror. I endured plenty taunting from mates and some digs from women that I was losing my hair on nights out. I'm usually thick skinned, but after years of this, it took its toll on me, and slowly felt it was draining away my self-esteem and confidence in myself. I was beginning to make jokes about it myself, to try and be light hearted as possible about it, but it was eating away at me silently. I always took pride in how I dressed and looked. I take my reputation seriously, and always want to look my best for myself. Feeling good is important for me, as I tend to get sad very easily, it's hard for me to shake off that feeling of feeling down. In recent years I have lost good friends due to cancer and other things, so I’m working on this area of my life too. But hair loss was something I felt I had no control over, and really wanted to do something about it. I felt that fire burning inside me, and decided to follow my gut and just look into FUE and FUT seriously… to make a decision…for me for once. My friends said I looked fine, “shave it off man, don’t worry about it…” But I can’t. Unless you're going through Hair loss, I don't think you should comment. My close friends, and I mean close, we talked and they encouraged me to look into it, "if it makes you happier, then do it!" That meant a lot, and I discussed with my family, the pro's and con's, my thoughts and worries. Like everything in life, they supported me, and said “if this makes you happier, then go for it!” I would get jealous of all the cool hairstyles that guys would be showing off on a night out, while I was trying my best with a silly little comb over. Research: So how did I end up going to India to the Darling Buds Clinic and choosing Dr Tejinder Bhatti for my FUE Procedure? Well as mentioned before, the process began about 4 years ago. I kept an eye on the patients and doctors results pages on various websites, and was highly impressed on the results of patient’s suffering from Hair loss. Both FUT and FUE results looked amazing, however I wasn’t sure what would suit me best. I didn’t really know where to start, so I kept on reading silently at night about different cases, good Doctors, and methods used. I remember reading about Hasson and Wong first, and also the amazing Dr Feriduni and Dr Shapiro, Dr Radha, and Dr Pathomvanich in Thailand. I researched what was available in my own country in Europe, UK, Belgium, Turkey, Spain, Italy and read about another infamous heavy advertised clinic, who were running an aggressive campaign for FUE. I read about the amazing work of Dr Lorenzo, Dr De Reyes, and also Dr Koray Erdogan, Dr Hakan Dogany, Dr Emisroy, and Dr Radha, Dr Rahal, Dr Bisanga. Firstly back in 2009 I contacted a well known heavy advertised UK based clinic, and they got back to me after 1 week with an estimation of cost, and were looking for a deposit for a consultation. This put me off, and also their aggressive advertising campaign. So for months after they rang me in work looking to speak to me, and sending SMS’s and Emails to my inbox, when I asked them to stop. To this day, I receive the odd email, even though I have “unsubscribed” and blocked them. I read lots of online reviews of this clinic, and wasn't impressed with patient’s results, and their patient’s negative experiences with them. So I parked HT, and stopped contacting anyone until January 2013. During 2012, I was researching all the best Dr’s in the world, however I had a big limiting factor, and that was money. I’m in the process of buying a house, and a few other things, so I didn’t want to get myself into debt, and rush a decision over cost and pricing myself out of a procedure, but I tried to find a surgeon that was excellent in his work quality, but reasonably priced. Not easy in today’s market. So I patiently saved as much as I can in the last few years minus travelling etc. I wanted to start in Europe, and knew of the great Dr’s performing surgery there. I contacted Dr Koray Erdogan, Dr Hakan Dogany, and Dr Emisroy in Turkey. I was surprised that Dr Emisroy and Dr Dogany both didn’t think I was a good candidate for FUE, based only on the photo’s I sent them. I didn’t hear back when I replied with questions on why I wasn’t a good candidate, so I sadly moved on. Next I tried Dr Erdogan. Initially he replied and requested more photos, and I happily obliged. I didn’t hear back from him, and tried again for an update, no reply. This surprised me, as I know all 3 Doctors produce very good results, and have excellent reputations in Turkey and Europe. Maybe FUE wasn't for me I kept saying to myself. Now the reason I choose FUE was simple. I didn't want a linear scar on my head from FUT. I know good Dr’s can have almost no visible scar after a few months, but that’s not a guarantee. I was sceptical and didn’t want a bad FUT Scar. I contacted Dr Pathomvanich, as I have been to Thailand before, and loved it. Again, I contacted his clinic, sent photos and again no reply. Just my luck. So next I contacted Hasson and Wong, and they replied swiftly and professionally as expected. I was very impressed with them, and they gave me an estimation of costs, 4500 -5000 grafts via FUT and good detailed outline of the procedure. This was for FUT though, and that voice in my gut kept saying no no NO! Unless i'm comfortable with a decision, i won't go through with it. I sat on this for a while, and continued my research going into 2013. At the start of this year, I began to feel the urge to do something in 2013, as all this talk was having no action. FUE kept beating in the back of my mind, and I decided that dreams become reality through action. I was turning 30, and my hairline wasn’t looking like it did in 2009 anymore. I always had high forehead, and I didn't want to lower it by much. My plan was to fill in my front with high density, and mid scalp medium density, and crown medium, for a mature look. I knew that FUE rates are generally higher than FUT rates, but with a limited budget, which shouldn’t be the reason you go for a cheap surgeon, I wanted the best with what I could afford. FUE I read was limited compared to FUT in realtion to donor density, as I wouldn't get the same yield, and what happens if I need more in the future, do I have enough donor Hair left? Transection results? What even FUE scarring on my Donor area post op? These things scared me, and was it worth the risk? How about a Body Hair Transplant that could work? More research, and I started looking east again. I looked at Hair Transplants in India, and saw the work Dr Radha and Dr Bhatti, that were producing great FUT and FUE, at excellent rates, at great quality. I started with Dr Bhatti, and was highly impressed with how quick he responded to all my queries, no matter how small, stupid, or long, he gave me detailed explanations, and put no pressure on me in relation to deposits and money. I explained to him my story, what I hoped to achieve, and what his recommendations were. From the photos I sent him at the start, he recommended I would need around 5000-5500 grafts, he outlined the following over 2 sessions 12 months apart. 1. Scalp grafts- 2500-3000 2. Beard grafts- 450 3. Chest grafts, 800 4. Underarms (axilla)- 200 I was a little reluctant on the amount of BHT being used, especially underarms so we setup an online consultation via Skype. We chatted for a long time, where he examined my hair line, and checked my density. Chatted about what was possible, and what I wanted. I knew this wasn't as good as meeting in person, but from that assessment he said we could manage about 3000-3500 FUE from the Donor area, and up to 1500 BHT. I felt very comfortable after talking to him, and my mind was at ease. We were realistic about what was possible, and I said I didn't expect to have hair like when I was 19, and he agreed that with this much FUE for now, it would be more than good, and help me achieve my desired outcome. He said we could always touch up in the future , dependant on my donor density. I thought about it for a while, slept on it for a few weeks and then decided why not. I read very good detailed reviews of patients that visited him, and spoke to some of them, and saw their results, even from my own country, and they had nothing but good things to say about this gentleman. I had a good feeling, and decided to choose this Dr as my surgeon for the FUE restoration. Pre-Procedure: In order to go to Chandigarh in India, a few things needed to be planned. :confused: I was concerned about the surgery, in a good way, but also what happens if something goes wrong? I'm very far from home, so I outlined what needed to get done, as this would be the beginning, this life changing journey. Travel: I planned to arrive in Delhi India on the 21st of May, and asked to get a taxi pickup from Delhi to Chandigarh, to bring me to the hotel Altius near the clinic. This journey took about 7 hours by car! The traffic was terrible in Delhi, and it was 11am when I arrived off the plane from London, after an 8.5 hour flight, outside the airport, we were stuck in a traffic jam. Nothing to do but wait. So if you are thinking about coming to India, I would recommend in getting a flight direct from Delhi to Chandigarh and ask Dr Bhatti for someone to collect you from the airport there. The hotel from where I'm staying is near the airport (10 minutes). On my return leg, I flyed direct from Chandigarh to Delhi, then from Delhi home to Europe. Flights are cheap, I used skyscanner to check flights costs etc. Accommodation: I stayed at the Altius hotel near the clinic. Dr Bhatti helped me book this hotel, and I received a discount. Quite reasonable, 6 nights for €200. I stayed in a big double room en suite, free wi-fi and big screen TV and more importantly…AIR CON! It was a nice spacious quite room, with excellent pillows etc for postoperative care. Room was quite, and I slept well and comfortable. I ordered room service for breakfast and lunch, as I was a little bothered going out with all the bandages and a swelled head…no pun intended! Dr Bhatti sent me a list of all good hotels and rates available, but I guess from reading on the forums and tripadvisor etc Altius stood out a mile, and was reasonably priced compared to Europe. He hasn’t moved to his new clinic yet, which will be in the start of June. It’s very hot in Chandigarh, so check weather, and dress appropriately when you visit. Don't bring heavy clothes and coats. I recommend light shirts, as you don’t want to upset your grafts by wearing T-Shirts, when dressing. VISA: I secured my Tourist visa at the local Indian embassy in Europe. It cost €50, and took a week. No hassle. Downloaded forms from Embassy website, filled them in, passport photographs, and passport. Gave it to them, and collected it a week later. No questions asked. Procedure Dates: My procedure was scheduled for the 22nd and 23rd of May. Leave: I took up to 2 1/2 weeks leave from Work, and returned to work on the 5th June. Transport: Dr Bhatti supplied me a taxi driver who collected me every morning from the hotel to the clinic and back. Even post op, driver collected me to get my hair washed, and tomorrow again for taking off my bandages in my Donor area for the last time. He will bring me to the airport once all is finished. All included in the price. Day 1 of the Procedure We started proceedings at 7:30 am on Wednesday 22 May at the Darling Buds Clinic. There was no issue to get there from the hotel by taxi (booked by hotel) and the same taxi driver was there to collect me. He was very polite and mannerly, and answered my questions. When I arrived, all the staff gave me a warm welcome, and out of nowhere came Dr Bhatti himself, who gave me a strong handshake and welcomed me to his clinic. We sat down together and I immediately had a consultation with Dr Bhatti and it felt really good to finally meet him in person, he asked me my expectations, and we drew out the hair line as I thought would suit me, and to my surprise he agreed, of course making a few small alterations. But I listened, shut my mouth and let the man speak and listen to his advice. This is very important step, so make sure you are realistic about your hairline, I’m 30, so I like having a mature hairline at my age, and Dr Bhatti went through this 2 more times before the operation to make sure I was happy with the hairline, and showed me the mirror plenty times to rest my concerns. He was impressed with my density in the donor area, and estimated a high yield. He wasn’t 100% sure just yet how much grafts yet, but estimated between 3500-4500 including BHT (Beard and Chest) He was not rushed, even though he was busy that day, and willing to take his time to answer any to all of my questions. I had plenty of questions in relation to grafting BHT, and told him I didn’t want underarm hair, which he agreed we wouldn’t need due to my high donor density. I asked about the hair line, and talked about Zig/Zag and natural looking, which is what I wanted. I asked where he was going to focus the grafts, and he said high in the frontal section, medium in the mid scalp (and possible more in the future) and high in the Crown to lower scalp. I have existing hair, and when it grows out, it’s not too bad. We talked about future hair loss, current treatments, other FUE and FUT Dr’s, whose work he admired, and he was honest in saying in 12 months – 18 months we could look into further work pending remaining grafts in Donor area, and the results of this procedure. However, I would be very satisfied with the results in the meantime. We had a general chat about life, families, work etc. and had plenty cups of coffee. Once ready it was time to get down to business. 8.30am Donor Extraction I was prepared for surgery by his staff, which I have to say where very friendly and always smiling. The washed my hair first, and Dr Bhatti shaved my head. There wasn’t much to shave anyways lol! We joked a lot through the whole procedure, and I appreciated this. We are all human after all. Of course, I ran my hands through my hair after the first hair wash, and Dr Bhatti made his staff do it again, as he is strict on hygiene, and he gave me a look only your mother could. I received a blood test for infectious diseases and HIV as well as my blood chemistry (clotting time etc...) All clear The gown went on, and put my personal belongings in a safe with my own private code. Small things like this made me relax more. I got the admin side of things sorted, checked all forms, and Dr Bhatti took some photos, and measurements before proceeding. The nurse gave me an Antibiotic injection, and the needle was inserted into my left hand, and secured. Now I hate needles, but she was very gentle, and made me feel at ease. Thank you! First up was the extraction of grafts from the donor area. I had the back of my head numbed with Ice, before Dr Bhatti prepared the Anaesthetic. There was another Doctor there on the 1st day, who was observing and learning from Dr Bhatti. Dr Bhatti explained to him my backstory, goals, safe donor zone, which he explained, and harvesting correctly. It’s funny listening to your story being told between Doctors’. This made me feel I was in good hands, and I relaxed. Dr Bhatti’s assistant would tap on my head while inserting the needles which was a great distraction during this process. I was very impressed that all staff, as their so clean, and everything was sterile. Always washing their hands, and using new rubber gloves. He showed me the Harris punch tool, sizes, and also explained one last time the procedure to me, my hairline, and asked was I ok. Once numbed up after a few minutes, I did not feel a thing and the harvesting of the grafts by Dr Bhatti began. I could hear the tool drilling away, and all his staff were talking with him during the process. He spoke to the trainee Dr about the safe zone, and where to avoid, and also the correct method in extraction. The young Dr listened carefully, as they discussed the Harris tool, and other details. All the time he asked if I felt any pain, and if I did, he gave me a small dose of anaesthetic in that area he was working on. He told me I had lots of triples and doubles and said I had very good density. Of course I asked how much he could get, and he laughed, but said today hopefully 2500- 3000 Grafts from the Donor area. He only harvested in the end 2810 Grafts from 2/3 of my Donor area, from the right hand side, to the back of my scalp. He proposed on the first day of the procedure we graft this much from scalp, and the remaining from the Beard area. This made me happy, as I knew what was happening. I was lying on my stomach, and my head in hole, which was funny in its own peculiar way. Dr Bhatti was asking me what I was laughing at, and I told him all his female staff have pretty painted toe nails, as they were wearing thongs. He laughed and translated it to the young nurses, to which they all giggled and smiled when I looked at them. I even told Dr Bhatti he had nice nails too The donor extraction process took about 2 hours, and next we had a break. Dr Bhatti and I sat down, spoke more of what was going to be done, had coffee, and I could see my grafts were all safe in their Petri dishes. Next I would be getting my beard grafts taken. Dr Bhatti told me I had about 2810 grafts taken from 2/3 of my Donor area, and he said I had an average to high Density which he was happy with. So back to work, I sat down on the surgery table, and back to numbing this time the beard area, I found this a little unpleasant, especially the needle inserting the anaesthetic, but hung in there. Dr Bhatti did his best to make this as painless and as quick as possible. Once complete, I sat there for a few minutes to let the numbness sink in, and it was ready for extraction. This didn't take too long, and I guess it was finished by 1.30pm. I found it a little sore when extracting some beard hair from the Jawline, as it’s close to the bone. But it was bearable, and with more anaesthetic it was fine. They bandaged up my donor area carefully, and it was lunch time. 1.30pm – 2.00pm Lunch time. I had a delicious Rarra Chicken and delicious Roti bread, and some water. 2.00pm – 6.30pm Donor Implantation Dr Bhatti told me they got about 550 Beard grafts which made me happy, and said I had plenty left for tomorrow. Today we would focus the 2800 Scalp Grafts and 550 Beard grafts on the Frontal and mid scalp. Tomorrow the 1/3 scalp area on the left side would be used for the crown. He hoped to get about 1000 grafts from this area, and possible chest hairs, if required. I moved to a surgery chair, and Dr Bhatti took out his puncher, and made the slits to receive the implanted grafts. I found this process strangely satisfying, as I knew this is where my new hair will be going. Imagining in my head the outcome. Only the singles are placed in the front 1-2 rows. The 2s and 3s are distributed evenly. The following was the graft count from the Donor area- Singles (all beard were also singles)- 389 Doubles- 1701 Triples- 1704 Total: 3794 Harris punches used- 0.75 and 0.85 mm size. System used Safe Scribe by Harris There was no discomfort during this process however it was long, and we took a break mid-way for some refreshments. After the slits were made his beautiful technicians, began the process of implanting the new grafts into the slits made by Dr Bhatti. Dr Bhatti regularly checked them and make sure they were doing everything correctly, and they were very gentle and professional. They checked if I was comfortable, when I needed to adjust my sitting position or if I was thirsty etc. The team who works with Dr Bhatti are excellent. Very professional, diligent, and hardworking and caring. I was impressed as mentioned before how clean, and hygienic everything was, and also how they all worked well together. They talked to me during the procedure, but not too much to take their eyes off their work. They were very friendly with me, and I relaxed as they diligently worked away. It was a long procedure, and finished around 6.30pm. I was cleaned up, my donor area was dressed again and given all the necessary medications, sprays and instructions over the next 24hrs. I collected my personal belongings, and paid for my first day’s procedure, which was very reasonable. The made sure I put my cap on correctly so I don’t damage my grafts, it was disinfected properly, and I had to spray the saline solution every 20 minutes for the first 2 days onto my scalp. A taxi was arranged and I went back to the hotel to recover. When I got home, I was tired, and wanted to have something to eat and go to bed. I firstly skyped home, and told him I was ok, and the procedure went well. Feeling a little groggy from tiredness, and my head had a little swelling around my forehead and eyes, that night I carefully made sure I slept in the correct position, and put a special towel on my pillow to rest my head on, to make sure I don’t lose any grafts. I slept about 7 hours. Procedure Day 2 23/5/13 I slept well, and had my breakfast around 9.00am, and took photos of my hair line as included. The following day I went into the clinic at 11am, and went through the same process again. The nurses changed all my dressings, and Dr Bhatti checked to make sure all was ok. The bandaged up my Donor area’s again, and it was time to get through my final day. So Dr Bhatti checked my last Donor Area, and estimated again about 1000 grafts, and said once they were planted in my crown, he would assess if I needed chest grafts or not. I left it in their hands, and by the time the Donor Extraction of the scalp was complete by 4.30pm and, and inserted into my crown, Dr Bhatti said I didn’t require anymore grafts and we can leave the chest hair alone at this time. I asked him why, and he said you shouldn’t put in more than required. After 12-18 months we can re-assess things. He said I should receive an excellent and satisfied result from 4340 grafts and we can look at the mid scalp in the future. He advised for now to continue using minoxidil and Finastride, and maintain what I have, however, it’s inevitable the old hair will fall out eventually, if not maintained. Once again, I was bandaged up, cleaned and the young technicians were all smiling and taking photos near me. He was kind enough to oblige me for some photos with him and his staff before I said my farewells and left. I paid up, and smiled the whole way home, and was satisfied with my experience and hopefully my results. Now the real journey would begin…. 24/05/13 I arrived today at 10am, and my dressing on the donor area was changed and I had a light shampoo of the transplant area and was shown how to do this myself going forward. We went through all the post op instructions again and I was given all the additional supplies and written instructions on post op care over the coming weeks. I had some further chats with Dr Bhatti about my result and other topics. I purchased some Biotin and Finastride and Minoxidil Foam, all very reasonably priced compared to western prices. Dr Bhatti also gave me a medical clearance letter, just in case security are asking what happened to my head. 25/05/13 I arrived at 11.00am and got all my dressings changed for one final time, and then said my goodbyes to all the wonderful staff in the Darling Buds Clinic in Chandigarh. I have to say it has been a very positive experience, and will miss Dr Bhatti and his staff. 27/05/13 Going home I was scheduled to flying home Monday the 27th, and will rest at home until it’s time to return to work. I have received a detailed post-surgery maintenance plan received from the Clinic in relation to the next 2-4 weeks post procedure. I left the hotel at 6.30am, where Dr Bhatti had arranged a taxi for me to Chandigarh airport. The flight took 1 hour, and then waited until 1.00pm for my 8.5 hour flight home. I had to remove my hat going through customs, however a quick look and inspection I was moved along. This also happened in London, to customs amusement. Hey I won’t see these guys again, so it didn’t bother me. Thank you Dr Bhatti, and all your wonderful staff. I will keep this blog up to date as often as I can, and answer as many questions as best I can. I’m no expert, and these are entirely my own opinions and thoughts. Attached are photos of my pre operation photos. April 2013 - May 24th