View Full Version : New here - advice & thoughts please

01-26-2012, 04:21 AM
Hello all, I'm a new member. I've viewed this website casually for several years, and much more seriously in recent months. I'm now considering a hair transplant. I've taken a lot from reading what others have to say on this forum so I'd like to share my story, but I've never discussed this before so please bear with me!

I'm nearly 31. I guess I first started noticing hair loss at 23/24 - hair coming out in the shower, visible thinning. I couldn't really believe it as I'd never thought it would happen to me - I've always had very thick hair, and my dad has too (his is incredibly thick & curly - like a white man's afro!). When I was younger I grew it long and it was thick and bushy, not straight and thin. At the time I thought it may have been stress-related (had some heavy stuff going on with my girlfriend at the time, and life in general) - but over time it has followed typical MPB so I guess it's just genetic. My mum's dad was very bald as an older man, but I'm pretty sure not at my age. My dad (and younger brother are/were both very grey at a young age - I'm not - but no thinning, although my bro has a few signs recentl). Anyway...

So I did panic a bit, got conned into some stupid 'Centre for Trichology' scheme, applying something to my scalp twice a day, cost 750 which was a lot for me then. Complete waste of money. I never considered taking any medication, never wanted to introduce that into my body, didn't want to be chained to it forever, and frankly was put off by side-effects (let's face it - those sexual problems can be self-fulfilling if it's on your mind at all).

As my hair got thinner (just generally on the top at this stage, receding a bit), I became more and more obsessed with it - checking myself in every mirror, hating wind or rain, self conscious (sound familiar?). I came across Nanogen on the internet - sounded great, bought some, worked like magic. My hair was at the perfect stage for it, just needed the illusion of being thicker. Amazing. Always remember going back home after splitting with my long-term girlfriend and my dad saying 'your hair even looks thicker' - as if it was linked to my new freedom or something. I shrugged it off. But it did show that people had clearly noticed the thinning before.

So ever since I have been using Nanogen religiously, it's been a life-saver. I'm a pretty tall, good-looking guy, well built and keep in shape (play lots of football), and have always done well with women. Nothing has changed there all this time. I can count on one hand the number of hair/nanogen incidents ('what's all that stuff on the pillow?'), so aside from extreme paranoia when a hand goes through the 'hair' - no difference.

Obviously in general it's been a pain putting it on every morning, being beholden, in recent years having it on me if there's a chance I might not sleep at home. And other things are annoying - having a towel over my head every time I come out of the shower, having to go to the bathroom first thing if I'm with a girl to check all ok, becoming increasingly worried if I've been out in rain, wind. Also taking it on every holiday, paranoia about customs finding it and someone else seeing, not diving into swimming pools, if you knock your head, someone touches it, needing a mirror to check all ok, blah blah blah, you get the picture.

Problem - over the years my hair has got thinner and thinner. It was difficult to analyse because I'd only see it uncovered briefly between washing hair, re-applying (in truth I don't like to look at myself like that for too long!). And I knew inside that the day would come when the Nanogen would become obvious (I remember an ex-colleague who was clearly bald but putting some sort of oil-slick over his head - is that Dermatch? - and looked ridiculous) but I guess I was just thankful for the time I had. Now after all this time I'm at that stage - I look at least a bit ridiculous and anyone who paused to look at my head would know something was up. Only 3 times has anyone ever said anything in my presence, but I'm sure at least close friends and family suspect, up until now no-one has said anything, but it can't go on any more. I need to act one way or another. Always had it in the back of my mind that I would get a transplant down the line. So here I am.

I took a good look this morning uncovered, and photos, and I'm def a Norwood 6 now (will post photos this wknd). Unbelievable to me really but there is basically nothing left at the front, on top or the crown. The back hasn't started to go down towards my neck yet, nor the sides towards my ears, so I'm not a 7, but I suppose I could be (does a 6 always become a 7?) Amazing really that I can even use Nanogen (I still have a lot of very fine hairs which i guess are saving me, but it has become harder and harder to do in the morns, and the hairline looks stupid/too perfectly straight to anyone bothering to look.

I know I need to be realistic. I know I'll never go back to age 17, but right now I'd give anything to have as much coverage as possible, even thinning, but hair that would stay that way for ever (could use Nanogen on special occasions maybe), and not having to worry any more about people noticing something strange, and not having to apply this stuff for ever, being a slave to it as detailed above.

I had a consultation with Farjo (I live in London) - they said they would do a strip, probably not too ambitious as he said it was difficult to predict future pattern (ie. the back going downwards, sides towards ears), but the main problem would be they wouldn't recommend my putting concealer on afterwards, and especially not caking it on as it is now. This is a large part of the problem. If I had an HT, I wouldn't feel comfortable potentially hindering growth by using Nanogen afterwards, but if I didn't use it I'd either have to a) come out to everyone as completely bald (having concealed it all these years - really terrifies me), or take an extended break somewhere (go travelling?) - at least until there was enough growth and it was safe to use Nanogen again.

My vague plan is: do lots of research, think long and hard, have as many consultations as possible and collate the results/recommendations, pick a surgeon (leaning towards Belgium at the moment). Then have it done (hopefully this year) and possibly go off alone for 6 months or longer to travel (I could afford to and, aside from the effect on my career possibly, would like to travel a bit, get it out of the way while I'm free enough). I'd really want to give an HT the best chance to work so no concealer would be ideal - but don't think I could face everyone here - given I've hidden it for so long. Also if it started to grow they would know about the transplant so you'd have that nagging forever.

This has been a super long post, guess I had a lot to get off my chest! I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts, advice, questions. My main areas of concern are as follows:

- First off - at NW6, am I candidate for HT? Farjo seemed to think so. I appreciate it would take 2 or 3 sessions (for the front/top/crown) - any idea how many grafts that would be? My extremely amateur opinion is that my donor area is good as the hair still seems thick there, plus my hair was kind of wavy as well (which I think helps?)
- Are the Belgium surgeons as good as the US? How do they compare price-wise? And for someone with my loss?
- I wonder if all these years of increasingly heavy Nanogen usage have impaired my scalp on top - receipient area?
- Seems FUT is best for severe loss like mine?
- what's the post HT period like in terms of treatment - could I go off round the world for 6-12 months or would I need regular checkups/access to certain medication/creams, etc?

Please I would love to hear anything anyone can contribute. Need to hear honest thoughts, however difficult. I will add photos and probably more thoughts of my own. Anything I haven't covered let me know.

Thanks for listening.

Ps. Read this back and realise it sounds as if this hasn't all been something of a nightmare for me - it most certainly has and I have suffered the same paranoia, lack of confidence, extreme sensitivity and ego crushing that I've read about on here from so many others. I guess I've just always put a brave face on it and even now am trying to be philosophical about it, plus optimistic - hoping I can do something to help me reach a satisfactory place without experiencing too much trauma, or having it derail my life in a meaningful way. If I could get that bare minimum I'd consider myself extremely fortunate.

01-26-2012, 07:08 AM
Thanks for your story.

If I were you I would definitely take a second and third opinion on you being a good candidate for HT. As a NW6 you will need many grafts and your density will not be the greatest. On top you might be a diffuse thinner, and what ever is left of your hair in the scalp area will probably be lost in a HT by shock loss, so you will only have whatever hair you will get from the HT on top. Also you should not apply any toppik or similar for first 2-3 weeks after an HT some say longer, so you will have some serious "downtime". Things to consider.

If you are sure you can live with a light density from probably 2 operations and adding toppik for the rest of your life and a strip scar in the back, preventing you from ever shaving down, then you could be a candidate.

Sorry to be blunt, but you have to be sure what you are getting yourself into.

Are you sure you cannot pull of the 2 clipper shaven look, if you are tall and fit? If you are confident with women - that is great and the Jason Statham look seems to work for them also :-) - I was just shaved down for my HT and could have sworn if would never work for me. Hated it the first day, got used to it the second and now if my hairline is back in a year - I will from times to times go short.

Whatever you do - good luck, I am sure Farjo is good (never met him), but please also talk to some more doctors.

I just returned from a HT (FUE) with Dr Feriduni, Belgium (will post a separate thread later with pics). Try to contact him - email him pics and meet up with him, the guy is so upright and honest in his recommendations and from the look of my hairline (after 1 day) a great doc as well.

Tracy C
01-26-2012, 09:06 AM
Hi West33,

It needs to be said that if you have not been willing or able to take any medications to slow down, stop or possibly reverse some of your hair loss, you need to come to terms with accepting your hair loss. A hair transplant may be able to improve your appearance somewhat but you only have so much donor hair available and stage 6 is a lot of ground to cover. It may be better for your to look into prosthetic hair replacement rather hair transplant surgery.

01-26-2012, 12:41 PM
Nanogen sounds pretty cool. Seems as if you've had a lot of success with it thus far! Sorry to hear about your coming to terms, though. It's something we all must do at one point or another.

25 going on 65
01-26-2012, 01:12 PM
Wow, I've heard good things about Nanogen but the idea that it would continue working for someone beyond a NW4 blows my mind. Seems like a really impressive product.
Anyway, I'm sorry to hear about your story, but you're in good company here. Most of us have felt the same loss of self-confidence and the same depressing thoughts because of hair loss.

If you're really a NW6, I imagine the success of a transplant would be pretty limited, as others here have mentioned. I've seen maybe a handful of cases where NW6 guys get decent results because they have a ton of donor hair. I would definitely get more than just one doctor's opinion though. And to be honest, not taking any meds to stop further loss may increase the risk of a transplant looking worse down the road.

Tracy's idea of a hair replacement system is worth considering, but I know it could be awkward to be around family and friends with a suddenly full head of hair and having to deal with all the questions. But the cosmetic results can't be beat if you go for quality.
Seeing how you look with a real short shave is also worth considering, but I'm guessing you don't like that look if you're here. For what it's worth, it seems to look best on bigger more athletic guys, which sounds like you.

If you upload some pictures of your scalp we might be able to give a better opinion (censor out your face).
One other thought: I do not understand why you couldn't use a concealer on transplanted hair, unless they meant just during the healing process.

On a final, optimistic note, there is a new generation of hair loss treatments in the works that could start coming out in the next 5 years. They may include stem cell therapies, which in theory could lead to a good cosmetic result even for a NW6-7. So whatever solution you find for the short-term, it won't necessarily be the final result you have to live with for the rest of your life.