View Full Version : Dr. Cole Botched My Repair Procedures: $36,000 and Zero Growth

09-03-2015, 05:55 PM
Definition of Botch: a bungled or badly carried out task or action.
synonyms: bungle, mismanage, mishandle, make a mess of, mess up, make a hash of, muff, fluff, foul up, screw up, flub


I spent $36,050 on corrective ‘repair’ surgery with Dr. John P. Cole in 2005, with virtually ZERO hair growth. Virtually none of Dr. Cole’s grafts grew. I picked Dr. Cole to do these procedures, based on what I now believe were deceptive claims made to me during consultations. Also, Dr. Cole left me in worse shape after surgery by creating new scarring, and by depleting hair from my already severely depleted scalp donor area. This is a difficult post to write, because I am psychologically devastated, and there is so much information to cover, and I want to be perfectly clear, without resorting to angry ranting (when you've spent this much money with bad results, it's not easy). Dr. Cole was dishonest with me during my consultation. He made exaggerated claims about the results he was getting with body hair transplants (BHT). He told me I had “zero margin for error” during my first consultation, but then took unnecessary risks with my surgery. In my opinion, he made medical decisions based on profits (getting high graft counts), instead of my well-being. After he was confronted with the complete lack of growth using his own high resolution photos, he promised me a refund and then later reneged, claiming financial hardship. He offered a $6,000 settlement, less than 20% refund (later bumped up to a final $13,000 during negotiations - less than 1/3 of the money). Based on my personal experiences, my opinion is that Dr. Cole is willing to lie to patients, he recklessly experiments on patients like myself while still learning techniques he hasn’t mastered, and he doesn’t stand behind his own work. Afterwards, I learned some things which make me believe Dr. Cole has an ongoing pattern of poor judgement, lies and ethical failures.

Why am I talking about this, when it’s incredibly painful to remember? Because Dr. Cole’s website laughably claims “His concern for his patients is second to none and he is a perfectionist in all that he does” and that he gets “tremendous” results with Body Hair Transplantation. That definitely wasn’t my experience with Dr. Cole whatsoever, and I believe the public should know the extent of Dr. Cole’s misconduct. I know there are patients of Dr. Cole who think he is great, because they personally are happy with their results from him. I am not claiming that your experience isn’t valid; Good for you. But please, by the same token, my bad experience with Dr. Cole is valid too. (I will take a polygraph test regarding everything I write here). When I read these online forums, there is a lot of focus on technical issues, and not nearly enough discussion of the character of the doctors (or lack of character, in some cases). When choosing a doctor, don’t just look at cherry-picked photos of the best results, or look for who uses the smallest punch, or other technical matters. You should also think about which doctors are the most honest, the most ethical, the most trust-worthy. Which doctor will take the least risks with your appearance? In my experience, Dr. Cole fails on all of these counts. He certainly failed me, big time. A doctor can’t be “mostly ethical” (just like you can’t be “a little bit pregnant”). In my opinion, if you’re not ethical 100%, then you’re not ethical. In my experience, Dr. Cole is not ethical, period. I’m not alone in that judgement. In a previous online forum post, Dr. Cole bragged that he wanted to “clean up” the hair transplant industry. I think that if Dr. Cole wants to “clean up” the hair transplant industry, he should start by cleaning up his own practice.


I will back everything up in detail, but first I need to explain my background, so that you understand the gravity of Dr. Cole’s conduct. (Maybe somebody remembers my story from other online forums). In the early 80’s, when I was 21 years old, I had three transplant procedures (total of 300 large plug grafts) and a small scalp reduction with Dr. Carlos Puig at the Cleveland Hair Clinic outside of Chicago. I was lied to by the sales consultant (who told me the open donor punch scars would “shrink” and become “undetectible”. Dr. Puig’s promotional brochure also makes this false claim). Later, I learned that according to Dr. Orentreich (the ‘father” of plug grafting) guys in their 20’s should not be operated on, but Dr. Puig’s clinic gave me a hard sell, which basically ruined my life. Dr. Puig operated a “hair mill” where the emphasis was on sales. My hair transplant from Dr. Puig never looked good, and when I complained the clinic told me the solution was to keep getting more plug hair transplants. They told me I had “unrealistic expectations” but they were the ones who deliberately created those expectations in the first place! As I gradually lost more hair, my pluggy transplant began to look terrible… shocking, even. The “dolls hair” look, the kind of hair transplant you could see from across the street. My appearance was ruined.

Flash forward to 2001, I had three corrective surgeries with Dr. Robert Bernstein over the course of 18 months, in New York. Using mostly “coring” techniques, Dr. Bernstein helped reduce the pluggy appearance of roughly 2/3rds of the plug grafts. Dr. Bernstein told me that I was in the “top 10% most difficult” repair patients because of the pluggy grafts, pitting and cobblestoning in the recipient area, and the massive scarring and hair depletion in the donor area. After three surgeries (total cost: $3,600) I had improved, but Dr. Bernstein told me that he couldn’t do much more for me, that we were getting into diminishing returns. I was disappointed at the time, but I appreciated his honesty. Dr. Bernstein even asked me NOT to show my photos online, because my situation looked so bad that it might discourage other guys from getting repair work.

Around this time, Dr. Ray Woods from Australia was becoming talked about, on internet forums. One guy (“Timetested”) had gone down to Australia and gotten a stunning improvement with repair surgery using FUE and BHT. In December 2002 Dr. Woods and his sister Dr. Angela Campbell held a public seminar in New York City to discuss their FUE technique. I attended the seminar along with about 70 other guys, and met with Dr. Campbell privately afterwards, where she evaluated my scalp. Like Dr. Bernstein, she also told me that my situation was extremely grim. However, she told me that there was still a little bit of donor hair on my head (nape and side areas, approximately) and that body hair was being used successfully in their practice, and to have some hope. This was encouraging. However, with my limited income an expensive surgery in Sydney Australia was unattainable.

In January 2003, Dr. Cole had announced that he was learning the FUE process and he would be travelling to suburbs of Philadelphia to meet with prospective East Coast patients. I told Dr. Cole my full history with Dr. Puig and Dr. Bernstein, including Dr. Bernstein’s prognosis that I was in the top percentile for worst repair cases. Dr. Cole examined my scalp and told me I have “zero margin for error” with corrective surgery. In other words, in order to have even a half-decent repair result, doctors could not make future mistakes with my corrective surgery. Dr. Cole also told me that he didn’t know FUE well enough yet to operate on me, but he was learning, and he was determined to learn how to do it, and that he would do corrective surgery on me for free when he was ready. Dr. Cole asked to see my chest hair, and told me I have a good donor supply for BHT (body hair transplant). Because of his apparent honesty (admitting that he was still learning FUE) and generous statement (free surgery). I was impressed by my first meeting with Dr. Cole.

Months later, Dr. Cole had posted on internet forums that he was doing FUE procedures, and even showed some photos. On the internet, it was extremely rare for doctors to admit that strip surgery was flawed at all, but Dr. Cole came out in favor of strip-free hair transplants, presenting himself as a strong advocate for patients and their desire for less scarring. There was a fierce online debate over FUE at this time, mostly between the old-school doctors and patients, and Dr. Cole seemed to be marketing himself as “on the side of the patients”. Meanwhile, another New York patient (“DJ”) had been getting corrective FUE work from Dr. Cole. I told DJ about my consultations with Dr. Campbell and Dr. Cole, and DJ urged me to follow up and ask Dr. Cole for free surgery, but I didn’t. I have never asked a doctor for free surgery, or a discount, or special treatment. I told DJ that I couldn’t ask Dr. Cole for favors, but DJ claimed that he himself had a very good relationship with Dr. Cole, and he would encourage Dr. Cole to help me. A few months later, Dr. Cole’s office manager called me to schedule free corrective surgery. Using FUE they would break up more of the remaining pluggy grafts (similar to what Dr. Bernstein did, only using FUE). I flew to Atlanta in November 2003. Half of the surgery was performed by Dr. Cole’s “trainee” Dr. Patrick Mwamba while Dr. Cole was gone from the room half of the time. Dr. Cole again asked to see my chest hair, and again told me I have a good donor supply for future BHT (he said “wow”!). I underwent two days of graft-correction surgery (plus 90 minutes on a third day). I estimated this at $10,000 total value, based on Dr. Cole’s pricing at that time. I didn’t understand at the time, but I now believe that Dr. Cole and Dr. Mwamba were still learning FUE and only using me to practice on. You can’t learn the procedure if you don’t have people to practice on, and Dr. Cole was still doing strip surgery on a regular basis, and not doing FUE full time like he aspired to. When a doctor doesn’t have paying customers for FUE, then he might resort to free work, just to keep learning the procedure (Note: be wary of free work from inexperienced docrtors!) Using me for practice runs contrary to Dr. Cole’s original prognosis of “zero margin for error” (avoiding risks). In addition, Dr. Mwamba didn’t have a medical license in the USA, and should NOT have been doing surgery on me unassisted. During these surgeries, only older plugs from Dr. Puig were addressed. No new FUE grafts were taken, in keeping with Dr. Cole’s admission that he was still learning the FUE procedure. (Dr. Cole would tell me things like “We’re getting better at doing it… there’s still some things we need to work on, but I’m gonna get there!” and comments of that nature). Pluggy follicles were removed and replanted, but Dr. Cole didn’t photo-document the replanting part of the procedure, and in retrospect I believe it’s because he didn’t expect those moved hairs to grow. Otherwise, lots of photo documentation. Dr. Cole shaved the top of my head and used sutures like a webbing (or lattice) to pull the extraction sites closed, which was highly traumatic for me to see in the mirror, after having been through hell with my previous HT experiences. On the third day of surgery, I broke down crying and Dr. Cole ended the procedure early. Afterwards, I asked Dr. Cole if I could help pay for the surgery, and he said something like “well lets see, it’s about $25 for the gauze, and $15 for the sutures…” I assumed he was joking, and that he didn’t want me to pay anything.

Pic shows FUE extractions and replanted follicles, and suture "webbing" as performed by Dr. Mwamba and Dr. Cole:

Afterwards, I posted in an online forum about how Dr. Cole did some free corrective surgery for me, and how that was a hopeful development in my struggle to look normal again. A few days later, Dr. Angela Campbell messaged me privately to call her urgently at the clinic in Sydney. On the telephone, Dr. Campbell was alarmed and told me that it was too risky, that Dr. Cole didn’t have enough experience with FUE to properly treat me, that every hair follicle is valuable and donor hairs must not be wasted, and so on. Basically, the same “zero margin for error” message which Dr. Cole had told me during my first consultation with him. She then offered to do free corrective surgery on me in the Sydney clinic, and told me that she would use her frequent flier miles to pay for my flight. This was overwhelming, as my annual income was roughly $34,000 and surgery in Sydney was otherwise unaffordable. Dr. Campbell made me swear that I keep this a secret, saying that their clinic is already swamped with requests for free corrective surgery from desperate lower-income repair patients like myself, and that if word leaked out that they sometimes do this work, that it would only make things worse. I promised not to tell anyone. Five months after graft correction surgery with Dr. Cole, I flew to Sydney in March 2004 and got five surgeries: four sessions with Dr. Campbell, and one smaller session with Dr. Woods on the last day. Overall, 1150 new FUE grafts were transplanted, the majority of grafts come from my chest and stomach, and approximately 200 from the sides of my head and nape. I wrote about my experience online, but didn’t reveal that the surgery was donated by Dr. Campbell, like I promised. I returned from Sydney with new hope.

In the winter of 2004, Dr. Cole traveled to New York for consultations and to drum up new business. I saw him for a follow-up visit - I assumed he would be interested in how his own corrective work looks, and how Dr. Campbell’s work looks. At this point I was about 9 months past my surgeries in Sydney, and seeing some modest new growth. Not mind-blowing results, because it was less than 1200 new grafts total and mostly BHT grafts from my chest, but I could see a small but noticeable and definite improvement. I was starting to feel hopeful that I could actually find a solution to my hair transplant nightmare, and thinking about what potential repair steps might come next. However, during my consultation, Dr. Cole told me that he thought that my results from “Dr. Woods” were not very good (I'd told him that it was Dr. Campbell’s work, not Dr. Woods) and Dr. Cole said he wasn’t impressed. As I write this now, I realize what he was doing… Dr. Cole was basically “negging” me. Younger guys might recognize this term, “negging” is when you give somebody a subtle insult, when you’re trying to manipulate them. You don’t believe the doctors would do this sort of thing?? Well, they have classes in salesmanship at the ISHRS conference with names like “How to Turn a No into a Yes”. They definitely do things like “negging”. My consultant at the Cleveland Hair Clinic “negged” me too, when he told me that I didn't look good with a shaved head, only TV and movie stars like Telly Savalas and Yul Brynner could pull that off). I told Dr. Cole that I thought the results were actually pretty good, that I could see definite new growth. (I did not reveal that Dr. Campbell had done everything for free, as I had promised her). Then Dr. Cole bragged “Well I’m getting great results with body hair now”. This really hit me. During my first consultation, Dr. Cole had told me he’d let me know when he was ready to do FUE. Now he was telling me about “great results”. He didn’t say that the surgery was going well and the grafts were coming out easy, he told me that he was getting great RESULTS with BHT. This obviously got my attention, because we had gone from the first consultation “I’m still learning how to do FUE” and “no margin for error” to “I’m getting great results with body hair now” and “I’m not that impressed” with your results from Dr. Woods. However, in retrospect, when Dr. Cole told me that he was GETTING GREAT RESULTS NOW with body hair, he must have been exaggerating (a nicer way to say that HE LIED) but more on that later. I had already decided that I trusted Dr. Cole - he admitted that he didn’t know how to do FUE during the first consultation, he presented himself as “one of the good guys, I’m on the patients’ side” on the internet forums (“Many of you know that I have been on a mission is the clean up that which is wrong in the hair transplant field.” etc). He had already done free work on me (and there’s no reason to allow a doctor to work on you, unless you trust him completely). Dr. Cole was also posting photos online which seemed to show he could do FUE successfully. If the Woods clinic could do BHT, then surely others could learn it, right? So there was no reason for me to doubt he was telling the truth. And that was my big mistake: I trusted Dr. Cole.

So I asked Dr. Cole “Well, what would you recommend that I do?”

He thought about it for a few seconds, then he told me something like “Do 4500 grafts. Do it in three days, get in there and knock it out” or something very similar to that. My mind was reeling when he said that… because if I could get noticeable improvement with 1150 grafts from Dr. Campbell (which he called “not all that great”) what kind of new improvement would I see from four times that number of new grafts, with “great results”? And that’s when he had me hook, line and sinker. It was like a slow motion con job… start out acting all humble and say you’re just learning, but when you think another doctor is getting paid and you aren’t, then start bragging about your great results, and recommend a big “mega-session” surgery. I believe that’s exactly what Dr. Cole did. And that’s how con artists work… you have to build up trust and then give the “sucker” something irresistible to lure them in. And the possibility of ending my hair transplant nightmare was the irresistible lure. Dr. Cole never said at any time “this is experimental, we should do some tests first” or “there’s always a chance this might not work” or “gee, you’re a really tough case, so lets be careful”. He had already examined me multiple times, and did three days of graft correction surgery on me, so he was well aware of what my scalp characteristics were. He knew my entire history of procedures. And he was supremely confident during this discussion, implying that he was better at BHT than Dr. Woods. BHT was still new back then, and Cole presented himself online as on the cutting edge. So if he said he was getting “great results” who was I to disagree? Dr. Cole also told me that I would be “the only patient in the clinic” on those days, leading me to believe that he would give me lots of hands-on attention this time.

Again, 4500 grafts in three days… HIS IDEA, his recommendation. Dr. Cole did not offer to do this work for free. And I have never asked a doctor for free work, or special favors, and I never will. However, in 2004 for the first time in my life I had told my family about my hair transplant nightmare because of my trip to Sydney, and I had told them that I had started seeing actual results from Dr. Campbell, and they were glad for me. I had a strong feeling that if I asked my family for the money to pay for more repair surgery, I could probably get them to help me. So I asked Dr. Cole how much would all that cost? and he wrote down some numbers and told me “$8 per graft, times 4500, so it would be $36,000”. I told him I would try to get the money from my family. Battling with a bad HT has been such a nightmare, I would crawl through broken glass if it would fix me. I thought I had seen a light at the end of the tunnel after Sydney. I already had good results from Dr. Campbell, but I couldn’t call her to ask for more free work - I never asked her in the first place, it was all her idea. And while I was being worked on in Sydney, she was pulled away by a phone call, and I could hear her say “I wish you the best of luck” and she came back in the room and told me that a patient had just tried to pressure her for free work, in return for a good review online, and she turned him down flat… exactly like she told me, repair patients bugging them for free work, and they have to tell them ‘no’. I wasn’t going to be another patient calling them up to ask for free work. So if I had to pay for grafts, the Woods clinic charged $11 per BHT (if I remember correctly) while Dr. Cole only charged $8. Theoretically, I could get more progress faster with Dr. Cole (this is called “penny wise, pound foolish” as it turned out). Obviously, I should have spent this money with Dr. Campbell, as she had provided provable results for me. But I was swayed by the idea that the additional grafts from Dr. Cole would make a difference. I was consumed with thoughts of living a normal life again, with a normal appearance. When I got home, I called to ask my father if he would help me by paying for repair surgery. My Dad hasn’t seen me without a hat since 1982, so he knew there was something seriously wrong. We had never really talked about my bad HT experiences before my trip to Sydney. I tried to briefly explain how I was in the “worst 10% of repair cases” and so on… Basically, I explained HT repair surgery and FUE to somebody who knows absolutely nothing about it. There was no way I could pay for this myself. I’m not sure what my Dad did, it took several months - I think he sold some property or stocks - I didn’t ask him, I didn’t want to think about that. My Dad grew up during the Great Depression, he came from a poor family and went to college and grad school on the GI Bill after World War 2. He came from nothing, when I was growing up he was always worried about wasting money, even though he eventually owned a successful business. A few months later, in March 2005, my Dad told me he was ready, that he could pay for my repair surgery with Dr. Cole. I paid the $3,000 deposit, and my Dad paid the $33,000 balance. We scheduled the surgery for three months later, May 2005. Afterwards, my Dad would ask me how the surgery turned out every few months. And I finally had to tell him that it was a complete failure, a complete waste of his money. It has really affected our relationship, because he thinks I was stupid and got conned by some crooks in the 80s, and then got conned by crooks again, that I never learned from the first bad experience and wasted his $33,000. Money that I could have spent on graduate school, a downpayment on a house, starting my own business… something actually productive, instead of wasting it on Dr. Cole. I won’t be asking for family financial help for corrective surgery, ever again.


Far from Dr. Cole’s original prognosis that I had “zero margin for error” Dr. Cole took unnecessary risks, subjected me to unproven techniques, and performed three consecutive "mega-session" surgeries that were beyond his level of ability. Dr. Cole’s procedures were a total failure. I’ve paid the price with additional scarring, even worse donor area depletion, and mental trauma, however Dr. Cole enjoyed a fat payday.

On the first day of surgery, Dr. Cole explains that the techs will begin by taking grafts from my legs, and work their way up to my chest. Legs? Leg hair was NEVER discussed during my consultation, it was always “show me your chest hair… hey, you have a good donor supply!” Chest hair had been examined at every consultation. During surgical prep, my legs, stomach and chest were shaved and numbed at the beginning of the day, but the techs never worked their way up beyond the legs. I asked Dr. Cole about this during the surgery and he told me “the grafts are coming out really easy” from my legs and “the grafts look real good, so lets keep going with leg hair”. He also told me he was getting good results with leg hair, and don’t worry, we’re gonna get to your chest later on. However, ZERO chest hair was used at all, and only 200 grafts total taken from my stomach if I recall correctly. The vast majority of grafts were taken from my legs, and several hundred from my head. There were two or three medical techs harvesting grafts from my shins and thighs, while one tech was placing grafts in my recipient area. During HT surgery I just try to control my breathing, relax, and don’t freak out. Hair transplant surgery is very emotionally stressful for me, because it’s something that has ruined my life. During a surgical repair procedure, I am forced to literally “walk back into the fire” which burned me very badly in the first place, and it’s a very heavy experience. So I just put myself in the doctor’s hands, close my eyes and try to relax, I don’t play armchair quarterback and try to “co-doctor” or micro-manage the procedure, or question what the doctor or the techs are doing. I just try to lie still and control my breathing.

There were two or three techs harvesting from my legs, one tech placing the grafts in my scalp, and Dr. Cole was coming in to make recipient sites, and sometimes doing placement or harvesting alongside the techs. Eventually, on the 2nd or 3rd day they took about 150 grafts from my stomach. And that’s all from my torso, everything else came mostly from my legs (about 4000 if I recall), and several hundred grafts from my head. After the last day was finished, I asked Dr. Cole why they relied so heavily on leg hair, when I was expecting them to harvest mainly from the chest. Dr. Cole told me the reason was that there was more “elbow room” for the techs to work on my legs than my upper torso, during my procedure. I interpret that to mean that harvesting from the chest would have been slower, because there wasn’t enough room for three people to harvest grafts, with someone also placing grafts. Looking at my leg hair, it is sparse and I used to have more when I was younger, so I believe I have age-related hair loss from my legs. My chest hair is quite plentiful, and has never changed, if anything there is more now. Some random measurements… Leg hair: .75 inch, 1 inch, 1.25 inches. Chest hair: 1.5 inches, 1.75 inches, 2 inches. My chest hair appears to be twice as long, and it’s straighter. Leg hair is slightly kinky. So in my opinion, instead of making it a priority to use the better donor hair with a smaller graft count, Dr. Cole made it a priority to get a higher graft count using leg hair. Maybe I should have argued with Dr. Cole during the surgery and insist that the techs start harvesting chest hair? Dr. Cole had already told me the leg hair grafts “look great” and were “coming out easy” and the reason I booked the surgery with him was because he boasted about “great results”. One of the WORST misconceptions in the hair transplant field is the widespread assumption by many people that the patients are required to “out-smart” the doctors… we the patients are supposed to know when the doctor is lying to us, we’re supposed to know when the doctor is making a mistake during our procedure, we’re supposed to tell the doctors what to do, we’re supposed to know the more correct age-appropriate placement of our hairlines, and so on. And if something goes wrong, then it’s the patient’s fault, for not out-smarting the doctor. That is complete bullshit! That attitude is a sign of a doctor’s dereliction of their responsiblity!

Pic shows relatively sparse leg hair compared to chest and stomach. Pic taken at 2 year follow-up when we documented virtually zero growth from 3 days of surgery. Arrow is pointing to golf ball sized bare patch, the only area on my torso where grafts were harvested by Dr. Cole's clinic:

On the first day, Dr. Cole mapped out various shapes on my recipient area with a blue pencil. At the time, I believed that this was Dr. Cole making a “master plan” for my three days (example: 200 grafts will go in this area, 450 grafts in this area, 300 grafts here, etc). No, it was not. Later, it was explained the zones were only to indicate the hair direction, when making recipient sites, nothing else. In my estimation, Dr. Cole didn’t have a master plan for my procedures, or even a daily plan at all, and here’s why I can say that: At the end of the 2nd day of surgery, Dr. Cole pulled me aside and said he wasn’t on track to reach the projected graft target, and he told me “we should come up with a plan.” I was completely shocked by this, and told him (quite angrily) that the time to make a plan was at the beginning of Day 1, not at the end of Day 2. If there had been a master plan, Dr. Cole would have known he was behind schedule on the first day. (His staff went home at 5:00 every day, and that was the end of surgery). Despite multiple consultations and previous work on my scalp, Dr. Cole had no over-arching plan for me on how he intended to accomplish specific goals. When researching hair transplants, educational material from Dr. Bernstein (and other doctors) advises that there should be an over-all “master plan” on how to achieve the mutual goals of the patient and doctor. But I believe Dr. Cole begins surgery without a plan, as that was my experience. I now believe that Dr. Cole drastically over-sold me on a high graft count during the consultation, foolishly mistaken in thinking that he could achieve high “mega-session” graft numbers with BHT, and charging me in advance for that high graft count. And when it looked like he couldn’t hit his graft target, he pulled me aside to basically ask me (in essence) “What do YOU think we should do?” as if we were “co-doctors”. After I told him he should have had a plan from the beginning, Dr. Cole assured me “well, we’ll figure something out tomorrow”.

Despite his promise that I’d be “the only patient in the clinic” Dr. Cole was absent from the operating room for about half of my surgery. The techs did the majority of the surgery, and Dr. Cole gave me a very disappointing amount of personal attention. He created all of the donor sites and did a little bit of everything else (harvested some grafts and placed grafts) but he was absent half of the time. He might spend 45 minutes in the room, then walk out for 45 minutes or more. Later, afterwards, another patient told me that during HIS procedure, Dr. Cole went to a dental appointment, and was out of the building for almost two hours!!! I don’t see the point of telling patients “you’re the only patient in the clinic” if the doctor is absent for half of the procedure; If that doesn’t equal “personal attention” then what is it supposed to mean?

One female tech was clearly inexperienced, in my opinion. During the harvesting, she made an “eh!” sound and another tech said “Oh, here, like this”. In other words, the techs had to show each other what to do. When Dr. Cole was in the room, the techs were quiet, but when he would leave (and be gone for long stretches of time) they were chatting with each other about weekend plans, and so on. The techs shouldn’t have a different style of working whenever “the boss isn’t looking”. Since my surgery, one of Dr. Cole’s former employees has claimed that Dr. Cole hired former Bosley employees to be his medical techs. I don’t know if that is true, but it’s a serious claim when Dr. Cole is touting his own experience as a selling point to patients. Why would a patient with “zero margin for error” want techs doing the majority of my procedure?


Dr. Cole told me that he thought he should take scalp donor hair from the back of my punched-out scalp. He said he could replace those hairs with grafts from my legs, and that “exchange” procedure had been working well for other patients. I was already numbed up and in no condition to make a medical decision (why is he asking me what to do???) I don’t remember if they gave me Valium at the beginning of the day, I assume so. Also, the numbing shots also contain stimulants (lidocaine and norephidrine, I think - the stimulants keep the numbing agents active in your system longer, so they don’t have to keep stopping the procedure to numb you up). Plus all the natural adrenaline your body produces during surgery, when there are 5 people jabbing you with sharp instruments… you are somewhat HIGH during surgery. That is no time to be asking patients important decisions. He could have asked me this BEFORE surgery, but he didn’t. Since VIRTUALLY NONE of the BHT grafts grew in the recipient area, I think it’s safe to also assume the "exchange" leg grafts didn’t grow in the scars. (Dr. Cole didn’t document these results, maybe because he didn’t expect much). Dr. Cole took grafts from my severely depleted donor area, and depleted it even further. Now, if I gather up my hair and tie it back, I can pull together a ponytail the size of a pencil. The scalp hair Dr. Cole took was needed to help conceal the scarring in that area. In my opinion this was a huge lapse of judgement on Dr. Cole’s part, which left me in WORSE condition after surgery. And I believe it could have been one of the many factors in a medical malpractice lawsuit, because no reasonable doctor would have done that ordinarily. Dr. Campbell took grafts from the nape of my neck (perhaps 100 grafts) BELOW the scarred area, and declared that entire area “finished” for donor supply, but Dr. Cole took grafts from the tiny areas of scalp BETWEEN the old punch donor scars. And virtually none of these precious head hair grafts grew, based on what we documented in my final photos. Also, patients are charged twice for "graft exchange" even though it only results in one new graft in the balding area (extremely cost-ineffective). This aspect of the procedure was totally irresponsible on Dr. Cole's part.

Immediately post-surgery:

The "After" photo showing the results of over-harvesting by Dr. Cole and Dr. Puig:

Dr. Cole will probably try to blame his failure on "the unpredictability of body hair grafts" but the fact is that Dr. Cole's techs also harvested a lot of donor hair from my scalp too, and virtually none of those head hair grafts grew, either. All of this precious donor hair from my head was wasted by Dr. Cole.

Wasted donor extraction sites on the side:


Wasted donor extraction sites on the other side:


On the third day, Dr. Cole directed his techs to split some of the grafts up, in order to make multiple grafts from one FUE graft extraction. According to my research, splitting up follicular units is considered taboo (it risks tissue damage to the delicate grafts). The only time I’ve heard that splitting follicular units is condoned is when doctors need smaller grafts for a specific reason. Example: somebody who has lots of triple-hair follicular units (or more) who needs more single-hair grafts for placing the delicate frontal hairline. That’s not what Dr. Cole did though, in my opinion. I believe he split up perfectly good FU’s in order to raise the graft count. We didn’t actually need more “singles” we needed COVERAGE. Single-hair follicular units don't cover as much as multiple-hair FU's. And if you look at my post-op graft placement photo, the vast majority of grafts were placed behind the frontal hairline, where single hair grafts are not desirable.


DR. COLE’S BHT MEGASESSION BLUNDER: Dr. Cole prescribed me three consecutive days of “mega-session” BHT procedures, claiming he had “GREAT RESULTS” with this procedure. But he was LYING in my opinion, and here’s why I believe that without any doubts: If Dr. Cole was actually getting GREAT RESULTS with the same mega-session procedures he prescribed for me, he would still be using the same procedures on a regular basis. No doctor so-quickly abandons a procedure that clearly has GREAT RESULTS. However, if you look at Dr. Cole’s website, he apparently learned something from BHT failures or inconsistent results, that he changed his behavior to become more cautious. (Nobody can truthfully claim that inconsistent results are “great results”!) Dr. Cole now advises that current patients first get small “test sessions” of BHT to gauge whether BHT procedures will be successful, before graduating to bigger sessions. But that cautious approach is not what Dr. Cole used with me, a patient with “zero margin for error”! Dr. Cole recklessly experimented on me with BHT megasessions, and the results were a complete failure. And this gamble by Dr. Cole was completely unnecessary, as we could have easily done a test session first. In my opinion, Dr. Cole’s ego was the reason that he prescribed three consecutive BHT megasessions, and also the reason that he exaggerated about getting “great results with body hair” when he actually didn't have enough experience yet to truthfully make that claim. A doctor who is foolishly obsessed with being “better than Dr. Woods” (as Dr. Cole seemed to be) probably won’t admit he needs to do small test sessions. Dr. Cole needlessly experimented on me by doing megasession procedures that were beyond his ability. And virtually NONE of my grafts from Dr. Cole grew… complete failure. Around the same time as my procedures (May 2005) there was another patient who reportedly spent over $100,000 on BHT megasessions with Dr. Cole, and he allegedly didn’t get results either (“caronhead” aka Car On Head - August 2005). And I see there is another Cole patient online who claims he spent over $100,000 on BHT megasessions, also with bad results. Who knows how many failures Dr. Cole had using this approach? Dr. Cole was brazenly reckless IMO, prematurely selling patients expensive surgeries that he couldn't consistently perform with competence.

Afterewards, Dr. Cole also gave me a post-op topical to apply twice daily during healing. Not “Procell” or “platelet rich plasma” or anything like that (this was 2005). It was a topical salve which he said was formulated by his wife. His wife is not a dermatologist, a doctor or nurse, or a licensed cosmetologist. No, Dr. Cole explained to me that his wife just “likes skin products”. In my opinion, providing this post-op topical from his wife is another example of Dr. Cole needlessly experimenting on me. Maybe Dr. Cole is still using this exact same topical formula in 2015 because it’s been proven to be successful, in which case I will revise my post to remove this paragraph. Maybe this seems like a petty complaint, but like I said, good results trump almost everything, however when you have terrible results like I got from Dr. Cole, then you do start mentally re-examining every single thing that seemed "off". The problem again is that Dr. Cole was seemingly “just trying some stuff out” on patients like me, which conflicts with the “zero margin for error” expectation that I assumed would be Dr. Cole’s approach to my case, since that was his original diagnosis.

Dr. Cole also used latex sheets stretched tight, which he stapled into my scalp, which were intended to pull the scalp together (overnight) to reduce the size of the FUE donor scars. This was extremely traumatic to see. Again, I believe this was Dr. Cole “just trying stuff out” on me… experimenting on a “zero margin for error” patient. Maybe Dr. Cole still uses this technique, but I feel pretty confident that this was experimental, as Dr. Cole cut open a latex glove in order to get the material (it would be easier to use a regular latex sheet intended for this purpose). Also, you can’t pull together one area of scalp without creating tension in other areas. The priority should be on graft survival, not trying to minimize the size of his FUE scars. Is this technique an industry standard for FUE patients? If so, I will edit this paragraph out. But I believe this reveals more needless experimentation by Dr. Cole. Also, sending me home overnight with latex sheets stapled into my head showed Dr. Cole had little concern for my psychological well-being, as this was extremely traumatic for me to see and experience. On his website, Dr. Cole claims that his “concern for patients is unparalelled.” That was definitely not my experience. Dr. Cole doesn’t have the compassion to effectively treat repair patients like myself, in my opinion.


GRAFT COUNT?: According to Dr. Cole, I received 300 grafts OVER the paid-for amount (he claims I received 4800 grafts). However I never heard anybody counting (lots of chit-chat though!) and nobody used a clicker. “Oh, they count” is how I remember him explaining it. Maybe the techs can count silently in their head, at the same time they’re talking to each other. I don’t know.

POST-OP: Dr. Cole seemed confident and so did the techs (“you’re going to have great results, I can tell” said one tech). I was already emotionally “all-in” (committed) with Dr. Cole when we paid the $36,000 (plus $50 for pharmaceuticals). I had already decided that I trusted Dr. Cole, and even though he seemed a little flakey, and pulled questionable moves during the procedure as described above, the bottom line with any patient is that good results can trump almost everything else. Like I said, I would crawl through broken glass for relief from my HT nightmare. Nobody spends a huge amount of money on a hair transplant and then as they walk out the door they are expecting it to fail. That’s why same-day reviews of hair transplant doctors are utterly worthless… virtually every patient is hoping for a big win when they are finished. And the same was true for me. After my procedures, I was hoping with all my heart that these procedures would work. But they didn't.


December 17, 2005: Seven-month follow up appointment with Dr. Cole when he comes to New York for consultations. Early signs of growth seem disappointing, unlike Dr. Campbell’s work. Dr. Cole tells me to keep waiting and be patient, growth can be slow, etc. Dr. Cole comes to New York to attract new patients. I now believe this is a bad sign, that Dr. Cole is still unable to build his practice using word of mouth from other FUE patients, and must travel outside his area to conduct consultations.

March 2006: Another follow-up appointment in New York. It was very hard to be sure what was happening, as Dr. Cole shaved my entire head, and previously existing hair is growing in. I was hopeful and guessed that maybe I was seeing a small amount of new growth. Later on, I learned for a fact that isn’t true, that I was only seeing the previously existing hair grow longer. It was only my imagination, I was only hoping that I was seeing new growth. Dr. Cole told me to keep waiting and be patient. Dr. Cole said it can take as long as two years to see new hair growth, when body hair is used. Coincidentally, two years is also the statute of limitations on a medical lawsuit (probably just a coincidence). Later, I saw that Dr. Cole started telling other patients to wait 3 years to see signs of growth!

August 2007: I had emailed Dr. Cole to tell him that the yield looked disappointing, that it was hard to be certain what the results were, but I estimated only 20% growth. (It was hard to see, because my entire head had been shaved, and I was seeing all the hair from before growing in). My Dad had been asking how my surgery turned out, and I had to tell him that it looked like a failure. Dr. Cole again "negs" me about my results "from Dr. Woods" by telling me he thought it wasn't very good (it was Dr. Campbell's work) and tells me "When the soil is not good, the hair will not grow". This is an example of the classic "blame the patient for getting bad results" ploy which is commonly used by bad doctors, in order to shirk responsibility when patients are unhappy. And he also tells me that body hair graft only gives "baby step" improvements in most patients. Of course, he didn't talk like this when recommending that I spend $36,000 on surgery for "great results" during my consultation. This is another classic "hair mill" ploy of over-selling the procedure during the pitch, but afterwards telling the patient not to expect so much once the results are in. They only downplay the effectiveness of surgery AFTER they have your money. And then he tells me the way to become more satisfied with my current results is to get even more surgery in the future... just like the Cleveland Hair Clinic told me.


September 13, 2007 - At this point, I had waited more than two years to judge the final results. There was still apparently little or no new hair growth, but it was hard for me to be objective, and my pre-existing hair was getting even longer, making me uncertain what my results were. I didn’t want to accuse Dr. Cole unfairly. So I flew to Atlanta specifically to document my final results with new “After” photographs. While I waited in the reception area, the receptionist told me that Dr. Cole was building a brand new “million-dollar” facility nearby. New “After” photos were taken by Dr. Cole’s assistant Johnnie McCarthan, using Dr. Cole’s professional studio camera and lighting setup. Then Dr. Cole entered the room to evaluate the results. Incredibly detailed, high-resolution, close-up views of my Before/During/After surgery photos (taken with the same camera, lights and in the same room) were compared side-by-side on Dr. Cole’s high resolution computer monitor, by the three of us. Johnnie McCarthan operated the computer mouse to zoom into my Before/After photos. Using freckles and other reference points, these side-by-side “mega-pixel” photo comparisons revealed virtually no new hairs growing from the 4500 graft procedures, in the exact same areas where grafts were placed. We slowly go through multiple angles and compare multiple regions in each photo. We zoomed in so far that every hair follicle was giant on the screen. It was obvious and unmistakable that everywhere that new grafts were placed (the During photos) there were absolutely no new hairs growing in those exact same locations (the After photos). Not even “some” growth or “disappointing” growth, there were virtually no new hairs anywhere at all. Nothing grew from Dr. Cole’s grafts. At no point could any of us (Dr. Cole, myself or Johnnie McCarthan) spot even a single new hair that wasn’t already there before… ZERO RESULTS.

Below are a side-by side sample of BEFORE/DURING/AFTER. Because the hair is longer in the AFTER photo, it might appear that there is slightly more total hair, but there definitely IS NOT. We confirmed that conclusively. The total amount of hair is exactly the same in the BEFORE and AFTER. The hair is just longer, and combed in slightly different directions, making it appear like it might have slightly better coverage. This is just an illusion created by slightly longer hair. The only way to really judge and compare is the way that Dr. Cole, Johnnie McCarthan and I did it together in Dr. Cole's office -- using the giant "mega-pixel" versions of these photos, and zooming in until every individual hair can be seen clearly. This photo is just to give you a rough idea, I simply can't upload megapixel version of these photos here!



All three of us were almost dead silent while we went through the photos, looking at different areas in extreme close-up and from different camera angles. I think we were all in shock, actually. I know that I certainly didn't realize there was a complete and total lack of any growth whatsoever until we all examined the evidence together on that day. After about 15 minutes of intensely looking at super-detailed closeups, Dr. Cole started hemming and hawing (“Well, now I didn’t think your results from Dr. Woods were all that great”) and then he offered to schedule me for small “100 graft” surgeries by himself, “after regular office hours, just the two of us”. That didn’t sound appealing to me, because I no longer had confidence in Dr. Cole based on the results we had just seen. And another patient had already told me that Dr. Cole offered to do small sessions “after hours” on him, and this patient said that 2 weeks would go by, with him hanging around his hotel room all day, and Dr. Cole would almost never call him into the office (a complete waste of time, and he was paying for a hotel room). Also, small 100 graft sessions would be an open admission that Dr. Cole still needed to experiment on me, that he was still learning the FUE procedure, and that didn’t follow a “zero margin for error” approach which virtually every other doctor had recommended. I didn’t want to be Dr. Cole’s “guinnea pig” any more. I also didn’t want to fly to Atlanta regularly, for dozens of small 100 graft surgeries, when Dr. Cole had already proven to get bad results. It would take 45 of these surgeries to compensate me for what I already spent, and it would take forever to accomplish. Dr. Cole then asked me “Well what DO you want?” I told Dr. Cole I wanted a refund, “I want my money back” and he quickly stood up and said “Okay”. All of this happened in the presence of Johnnie McCarthan. Dr. Cole told me that “Johnnie will take care of it” and left the room. Because I was told that Dr. Cole was spending a million dollars on a new building, I assumed that refunding my family’s $36,000 dollars would not be too difficult, even if it took some time. But that’s not how it turned out.

October, 2007: I had emailed Johnnie McCarthan to ask what the status of the refund is. Johnnie emailed me back, saying he called my father to discuss the refund. When I call my Dad, he tells me that Johnnie McCarthan asked for his bank routing information, and told him to expect a refund to be deposited soon. Let me repeat that: the clinic telephoned my father directly, and told him a refund was coming, and asked for his bank routing information. But they never sent us back our money. Weeks went by. I called the clinic several times to see what was happening, and I was always put through to voicemail, and nobody returned my messages.


December 2007. I emailed Dr. Cole directly, to ask what happened to my refund, I told him nobody is taking my calls etc. I got an email response from Dr. Cole which acknowledges his agreement to a refund. He told me he will "do his best” to refund.


Then Johnnie McCarthan emailed me, claiming the clinic had financial hardship and couldn't issue any refund at all, and he apologized for not being able to help me. The very same day, Dr. Cole’s clinic sends me a promotional email claiming that business is booming at the clinic with "skyrocketing demand".


Promotional email claiming that business is booming at the clinic with "skyrocketing demand", with the same date as email:


April 2008: Johnnie McCarthan returned my phone calls with an offer of a $3,000 settlement (less than 10% refund) and I would be required to sign non-disclosure documents. I decline the offer. I’m not willing to sign a non-disclosure contract (requiring me to be silent about my terrible experience with Dr. Cole) for anything less than a full refund. I can’t imagine telling my Dad “here’s a partial refund” and having explain what happened to the rest of his money. It would just seem like one more example of me getting ripped off by a hair transplant clinic again.

Almost two years ago, I wrote Dr. Cole two strongly-worded emails where I reminded him of my complete lack of growth, and his broken agreement to give me a refund. I also revealed to him for the first time that Dr. Campbell had done all of her work on me for no charge, and even paid for my plane fare with frequent flier miles. There was no response from Dr. Cole. I then contacted an attorney who another patient had recommended to me. Eventually, about 6 months ago, the attorney contacted Dr. Cole directly through his agent, and Dr. Cole once again offered me an insulting $3,000 refund. This was rejected, and so Dr. Cole raised his offer to $5,000, $7,000, $9,000 and so on. This was a slap in the face to me. I asked the attorney “how do they come up with these arbitrary numbers? What relevance is this to the total amount that we paid?” He couldn’t answer me, but Dr. Cole was playing hardball with me, lowballing me on the refund offers. This from the doctor who claims he has “unparalelled concern” for his patients. Eventually they offered $13,000 refund, which is slightly more than 1/3. I said no, I want a full refund. When Dr. Cole originally told me the price of $36,000 for his surgeries, my family found a way to pay for it. It wasn’t easy. But I didn’t make a lowball counter-offer “how about if I only pay $3,000 for that?” Once again I was told that Dr. Cole has financial hardship. But I'd wager that every single patient Dr. Cole has ever had probably had to jump through financial hoops to pay for surgery. Apparently Dr. Cole thinks he’s above undergoing financial discomfort, in order to settle his medical blunders.


I already know what Dr. Cole will say, because the bottom line is that all the doctors are basically the same. They all read from the same playbook at the end of the day. In my opinion, the doctors care about money first and foremost, and nothing else comes even close. Here’s what Dr. Cole will say:

1. Dr. Cole: “Unfortunately, the procedures can be risky, and successful outcomes aren’t guaranteed. There are some patients who get bad results, and we still don’t know why that happens. We are not perfect, but we are trying to keep learning and keep improving.”
Me: The doctors NEVER EVER talk like this during a consultation, when it actually counts. It’s only AFTER a patient gets crappy results that they start talking about how “uncertain the process is” and crap like that. Also, I already know the fault doesn’t lie with some mysterious unsolved BHT problem, because Dr. Campbell proved that I most certainly CAN get good results from BHT. But perhaps not from a poorly planned and irresponsible three day megasession, carried out by an inexperienced (but egotistical) doctor though. I suspect the issue lies with Dr. Cole himself, and only with Dr. Cole, not with “the procedure”. Besides that, Dr. Cole took hundreds of grafts from my head, and virtually none of those grafts grew either.

2. Dr. Cole: “In repair cases where there is significant pre-existing scarring, that scarring can result in inconsistent or even non-existent growth. We don’t know why this happens, but we are always striving to give each patient the best outcome we can. Unfortunately, some patients will be disappointed.”
Me: Again, you never hear doctors talk this way BEFORE the surgery, only AFTERWARDS when it's too late, they already have your money and need to cover their ass. Dr. Cole was VERY familiar with my scalp when he boasted to me about how he was “getting GREAT results with body hair”. He knew my entire history and what the risks were, when he recommended three consecutive days of BHT mega-sessions.

I also expect people to criticize me, “why did you wait so long to criticize Dr. Cole? Why not try to get a refund right away?” Well I waited for two years for growth like Dr. Cole told me was necessary. And then I DID confront him, and he told me he would refund my money. But there was no way for me to force him to pay. I should have come forward and posted about my experiences online though, but I’ve been too embarrassed and too depressed. I’m very sorry if anybody got bad results with Dr. Cole after 2008, especially if I could have helped prevent it. I did steer several people away from Dr. Cole via email. But I could have done more. I have to say that it’s very depressing when you see other repair patients getting fixed, and knowing that your situation is not going to be resolved.

Also, I’m sorry that I didn’t sue Dr. Cole for medical malpractice, but when I brought this up with my Dad, he told me he didn’t want to sue. Because my Dad was the one who paid, it’s unclear to me if I had legal standing to file a malpractice or breach of contract lawsuit on my own.


I’ve researched this garbage-heap industry more than most people. I’ve read two hair transplant medical textbooks, I’ve talked to many “recommended” doctors, and I’ve researched the hell out of it online. If I can be taken advantage of (by a “recommended” doctor who markets himself online as “one of the good guys” no less) then it can happen to anybody. You guys can do all the “due diligence” in the world, and it won’t matter one bit if the doctor is willing to lie! But that’s the HT business, which seems to attract many of the world’s most unethical doctors. Instead of practicing healing, they are trying to capitalize on the sadness and desperation of guys with male pattern baldness. And the more desperately you want hair, the more succeptible you are to lies and manipulation. Your own unhappiness will be used as leverage against you.

Dr. Cole’s clinic was raided by investigators, based on a tipoff from a former employee that unauthorized personnel were illegally performing medical procedures at Dr. Cole’s clinic. Which personnel are violating the law is not specified, but it may have been Dr. Cole's techs who perform much of the surgery while Dr. Cole is out of the room. It may have been Dr. Truett who shared office space with Dr. Cole and was being trained by Dr. Cole in FUE procedures, who had already had his medical license revoked due to his addiction to prescription narcotics. It might have been Dr. Mwamba who never had a medical license to practice in the USA. The investigators demanded access to Dr. Cole's clinic and all of his medical records. This raid led to discovering other ethical violations at Dr. Cole’s clinic which resulted in a $20,000 disciplinary fine by the Georgia Medical Examiner’s Office (in 2010) and a similar fine by the state medical board of California (in 2011). Dr. Cole accepted the rulings and did not contest either decision. This is public information and anybody can find the original documents online, because both agencies have stated that this information should remain available to the public. Sometimes medical board decisions are sealed and not open to the public, but Dr. Cole's disciplinary records are public. I assume this is because these rulings are considered part of "the public's right to know".

Dr. Cole worked at an MHR franchise (Medical Hair Restoration) a nation-wide “hair mill” company much like Bosley, where the major emphasis seems to be on reaching target sales numbers and mass marketing. "Hair mill" is an insult used to describes clinics which have a "conveyor belt" or factory-like approach to surgery. I’ve seen many many patient complaints about the MHR chain over the years, and even Dr. Cole himself has commented publicly that he was uncomfortable with some of their practices. So why did Dr. Cole continue to work at MHR, if he objected to their policies? The issue isn't just that Dr. Cole began working at a franchise clinic, the issue is also that he continued to stay there. In my opinion, Dr. Cole has an over-emphasis on sales and online self-promotion which could very well be due to his early training at MHR. Also, this was not Dr. Cole's first exposure to the hair transplant business: Dr. Cole started out working at NHI (Dr. Bernstein and Dr. Rassman's clinic) and quit NHI to work for MHR instead. He can't claim ignorance or misunderstanding of the big problems with "hair mill" practices and ethics.

Dr. Cole’s webmaster asked me to host photos of a bad strip scar on the scalp of a patient of Dr. Alvi Armani’s, on my website (which is highly critical of the hair transplant industry in general). I downloaded the photos from their FTP site and hosted them on my website “The Hair Transplant Industry is a Disgrace” in the section revealing the problems with bad scarring from strip surgery. Dr. Cole’s clinic website then hyperlinked to that photo on my website. I assume that Dr. Cole used this photo to embarass Dr. Alvi to other patients, without actually hosting the photo himself (plausible deniability: “Somebody else posted it, not me!”) I still have a half-dozen different photos that Dr. Cole’s clinic provided. I don't know but I suspect Dr. Cole has used other patients to attack rival doctors online. I participated by posting the photo, however I feel okay about my role: I don’t like some of Dr. Alvi’s policies about aggressively transplanting the front hairlines of younger men with minor hair loss, and I was also happy to post as many examples of bad strip scars as possible. It's not ethical for Dr. Cole to use patients as agents to criticize a rival clinic. Is that Dr. Cole’s hand in the photos?


It appears that Dr. Cole pays two (or maybe three) employees to officially promote his clinic in online forums, along with Dr. Cole’s own personal posts promoting himself, and a full time webmaster. This should be a red flag for patients, as most other doctors don’t need to promote themselves in this way. In my opinion Dr. Cole has too much emphasis on self-promotion sales, and not enough of an interest in ethical behavior. Another website forum has made allegations that Dr. Cole’s employees were pretending to be “satisfied patients” posting positive reviews about Dr. Cole directly from his clinic’s own IP address, and he is banned from posting on that website and his name is blocked (if you type the letters COLE your post will not upload). It's usually not allowed to discuss other websites, so I won't say the name here.

This is how another “recommended” doctor described Dr. Cole’s reputation among the other doctors, and I believe it’s true. The first time I met Dr. Cole, he told me that he used to work for the NHI clinic (Dr. Bernstein and Dr. Rassman’s clinic) but he quit because Dr. Rassman “hit on” Dr. Cole’s wife (tried to seduce her). I was a complete stranger to Dr. Cole when he told me this embarrassing story about Dr. Rassman, and I found it innappropriate. Dr. Cole seems to lack a “filter” and in my experience, he makes promises to patients that he can’t back up later. Another Cole patient once emailed me to ask if I also had the same impression as him, that there was something mentally “wrong” with Dr. Cole. I still have this email. (Definition of “loose cannon”: an unpredictable or uncontrolled person who is likely to cause unintentional damage.) In my case, I think Dr. Cole "wrote checks with his mouth" that "he couldn't cash".

On Dr. Cole's website he claims that he gets "tremendous" results with BHT, but elsewhere he recommends that patients do smaller test sessions before committing to a large surgery. In one breath he will claim that BHT "can achieve a cosmetically significant result from it's use alone" and in another breath describe 4500 graft BHT megasessions as only "taking baby steps". In one situation he claims "We have never considered the use of BHT experimental" and in another statement says that BHT patients "should be those who are willing to walk the pathway of the unknown". The stated effectiveness of BHT appears to depend on who Dr. Cole is addressing, and the circumstances surrounding the discussion. By playing both sides of the fence, Dr. Cole can promote sales at his clinic and portray himself as a prestigious industry-leading expert, but he can still plausibly cover his ass when the patient's results are disappointing or non-existent, as they were for me. (Some of these quotes are older, but pertain to the specific time period that Dr. Cole was doing my surgery. And the larger point remains: Dr. Cole changes his tune on BHT depending on the circumstances. When he wants new business, BHT gets "tremendous results". When clients complain that they got bad results, he tells them that most BHT patients "get baby step improvements".

I wish you the best of luck. I hope that nobody else has to go through the same experiences with Dr. Cole that I've been through. Since beginning this post, research indicates that there are several guys like me, who Dr. Cole "took" for thousands of dollars, who got disappointing or no growth. And I believe the reason that Dr. Cole can't refund my money is that if he had to provide refunds for all his surgical failures (and his disciplinary fines) he would go bankrupt, there is simply no way to address all the failures.

I also learned that around this time period, Dr. Cole's staff member told a patient that the clinic's daily profit targets were $12,000... the exact same cost of procedures that Dr. Cole prescribed for me. WOW, what a coincidence! I think that shows Dr. Cole made medical recommendations based on sales targets, not based on what was in a patient's best interests. I think the bottom line is that Dr. Cole is no better than any other "hack" doctor in the business, he just has more robust advertising and a clever slant on self-promotion. Beware!

09-03-2015, 06:23 PM
Correction: Dr. Cole's offer of a $13,000 refund is slightly over 1/3 of the $36,000 amount he owes (I said it was less than 1/3)

09-03-2015, 08:28 PM
Correction: Dr. Cole's offer of a $13,000 refund is slightly over 1/3 of the $36,000 amount he owes (I said it was less than 1/3)

Sorry to hear about your devastating story. Overall, I can just say, forgiveness is the only medicine to heal your heart and mind. I hope that maybe a hair piece or something can help. Your words strike fear into the hearts of anyone seeking a transplant. Thanks for your honesty.

I hope you get emotional healing ASAP, because after all we all just want to be happy.
This site really helped me heal:

:) Here are great tips to get good karma and really improve your life:

09-03-2015, 11:21 PM
I can't believe my eyes when I see the state of that scalp and then just absolutely nothing is gained. I'm so sorry to hear about your experience :(.

Fair play to TBTT for letting this get posted as well. It shows real fairness to what this site is about. Im also aware it gives a platform for Dr Cole to explain.

I can't believe that you weren't given a full refund though. Well actually I can believe it.

09-03-2015, 11:22 PM
Wow, I'm sorry you had such a terrible result. Dr Cole is a straight shooter and will tell you like it is. I find it hard to believe he is profit motivated given the demand for his services. If he had no demand he would lower prices as they are the highest in the industry. I had a HT with Dr Cole 2 years ago and it was one of the best decisions I've made. My result is phenomenal and I plan to have several more HTs as needed. I'm sure Dr Cole has thousands of satisfied customers and probably several unsatisfied ones as with any doctor or procedure. If you are one of the toughest cases getting a new procedure by a doctor who is still learning the basics, which from reading sounds to be your case, I can't say I'm totally surprised it was a bad outcome. I will say I'm surprised he didn't refund a portion or all though. Why have you not filed suit? Why bring this out now after so long?

09-03-2015, 11:23 PM
I feel for you man. This seems like a crushing thing to endure for so many years. I personally have had no experience with Dr. Cole, but my take from this is if what you claim is true, then you should be refunded all costs. You seem rational and have laid out a persuasive case.

If I were in your shoes I would absolutely invest in a modern hair system and try to put this nightmare behind me. For whatever reason you do not respond well to transplants. Obviously it isn't an ideal solution but these days systems are completely undetectable and many celebrities openly wear them (George Costanza from Seinfeld being one of them).

Good luck.

09-04-2015, 04:31 AM
Arfy, first what a nightmare you have been through, I feel for you. I had 30 of those punch grafts back in the 80's that still haunt me today. I have been lucky that was able to keep most of my native hair as I took proscar and then avodart.

I had the punch grafts reduced my Dr. cole back in the 2006. Your one of those cases where any doctor would want to help you but there are so many variables as you have had so many prior surgeries. I agree you should have had more re growth, was it do to him still developing his technique and just prior work causing scar tissue,etc. Who knows??

I have been through issues with my hips in the past five years and have had 2 failed surgeries on them. Surgeons are very proud and hate failure, but it's one of the thing they must expect when they choose that field.

It sucks you got no re growth and wasted time and money. I believe DR. Cole had the best intentions to repair you as you would have been a poster child for getting your life back to normal, if it was successful.

He probably should have never promised you all he did, buts it's done. I hate seeing this stuff and an initinial botched surgery(Puig) altered your life for the worst.

Good luck.

09-04-2015, 09:09 AM
Can't believe you didn't get a FULL REFUND! Any honest man would mend his failure and the hardship he inflicted on another.

Thanks for posting!

09-04-2015, 11:30 AM
Wow, I'm sorry you had such a terrible result. Dr Cole is a straight shooter and will tell you like it is.

I'm glad you are satisfied, I am not denying your positive experience. However, Dr. Cole is not always a "straight shooter" and I detail that in my post (it's rather long, and I apologize that it might be hard to absorb all the details). As I write in my first post, Dr. Cole is inconsistent in his ethics, which makes him a risk to patients, IMO. Patients shouldn't have to gamble with their money and their appearance. We shouldn't have to outsmart the bad doctors, or be responsible for figuring out when a doctor might be lying, or even if he's just plain wrong about something.

Why have you not filed suit? Why bring this out now after so long?

Also explained in my post. There's a two year statute of limitations on malpractice lawsuits. Dr. Cole told me that BHT can take two years to grow in (I waited three extra months). Cole told some patients to wait three years. The lawsuit window would have been closed. Also, since my father paid for surgery, I might not have had legal standing to file a lawsuit (it's unclear). My Dad didn't want to sue.

As for why this took so long to discuss, I needed to get away from the online forums and needed to stop thinking about hair transplants for my own sanity. I'm sorry if that's a sticking point for you, it seems to be a minor quibble considering the big picture of failure and deceit. I had already been posting online about these topics (bad hair transplants) non-stop for 5 straight years. Dishonest and incompetent hair transplant doctors have basically destroyed me. I've been dealing with the fallout from the doctors who rip-off and disfigure patients for 30 years. I have "outrage fatigue". Try to put yourself in my shoes. A doctor like Cole takes a guy like me who's already been through hell and promises he can improve me, but instead he takes me for a $36,000 ride and delivers no improvement, and he leaves me with more scarring and less hair to cover the scars. Okay sure, I should have posted about this sooner, however it's a wonder that I haven't gone completely insane or committed suicide yet.

09-04-2015, 01:30 PM
Dear Arfy,

Please take the time to refer to our Forum Posting Rules & Terms of Service (https://www.baldtruthtalk.com/threads/12805-Forum-Posting-Rules-Terms-of-Service?p=126975#post126975), specifically under Physician Complaints which I will post here for your convenience.

Physician Complaints

If you are seeking to write a public complaint about a doctor, you will be required to verify your identity and BaldTruthTalk.Com will then notify the doctor so that he/she can respond publicly as well. The thread will allow for the patient to tell their story, the doctor to respond, the patient to reply to the doctor's response and one last response from the doctor if necessary. The thread will then be locked. General commentary from other users will not be allowed.

I have been informed that you are indeed a verified former patient of Dr. Coles so you will not be required to verify your identity with us and your post will remain live. Since the commentary from our users has been reasonable, we will also allow them to remain on the thread as well. However, as per our TOS this thread will be locked until which time Dr. Cole chooses to respond to your complaint and allegations. Due to HIPAA Laws you will have to provide Dr. Cole with whatever is necessary for him to publicly discuss your case.