Monoxidil, Volume 'Cover Ups', Transplant, SMP: my story, results may vary -
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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2014

    Default Monoxidil, Volume 'Cover Ups', Transplant, SMP: my story, results may vary

    I was always in a losing battle with my hair. I can narrow my best times with it to once every third day and that only lasted about four or five years. I resolved to just keep it short, but present.

    I recall seeing an unusual amount of hair loss in the shower one day when I was around 32.

    'Am I balding?' I wondered.

    I was but couldn't tell because for some of us, the loss isn't immediate. Ten years later, I looked at a recent family Christmas photo and I was a Norwood 4A- and so began a nightmare.

    I don't think anyone who hasn't experienced hair loss can appreciate how devastating it feels. The closest I can think of is perhaps a woman undergoing a mastectomy. To me, it felt like not only my youth, but my virility was falling away and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

    I considered a hair transplant. I'd never had any kind of surgery before and felt kind of like it was a frivolous procedure purely for the sake of vanity. This is what many of us do: we let other people's perspectives influence our choices.

    The more I waited, the more hair I lost. Eventually, I decided it was worth it. That's what brought me to this and other forums. I wanted as much detail as possible. I wanted to see proven results and have some knowledgeable basis to weigh my decision on.

    After a few months, I booked a consult with a local hair surgeon. He recommended 1800 units. I wanted an FUE.

    I won't describe the three days of surgery, the office conditions, the good and the terrible. Everyone's experience will vary. All I know is I spent about $12000 (USD), and went through what is still the most painful experience of my life. The top of my head was scab covered for a month and, yeah, it was highly noticeable. I didn't see any kind of growth until the nine month mark. In hindsight, I'd say about 85% of the units were good and growing 12 months post surgery.

    That next year was wonderful. New hair. It changed my life. I did feel much more confident and could tell anyone a HT is the way to go. All I had to do, according to my surgeon, was continue to use Monoxidil to hold onto the hair I had. I bought off brand, 5% and used it when I got up and when I went to bed.

    Within two years, I lost half of the transplanted follicles. I began using Toppik, Caboki and Nanogen hair fibers. This was, perhaps, the hardest part of it all. I had a good half-hour routine to look somewhat normal. I was ALWAYS paranoid someone would discover the fibers. If I wore a hat, I'd have to wear it all day because as soon as I took it off my hair would look so terrible that anyone could tell it was all fake filler.

    'What choice do I have?' I asked.

    The transplanted follicles reduced to probably 2%, which is to say the hair transplant was a short-term success, but a long term failure. It's also right to say that the 1800 units never looked like a full head of hair in the ads. They don't tell you in the ads, though they will tell you in these forums, you often need several transplanted follicles (approx. 10,000) to look somewhat 'normal'. The only bright side was that, in my case, the FUE left absolutely no visible scarring whatsoever. I'm sure you can see them under a microscope and there are places that flare up monthly, no doubt due to the extraction, but I don't have the terrible HT strip many others have to deal with.

    I tried shaving my head, at this point, but it didn't look good. I looked like a balding guy who shaved his head. SMP seemed completely questionable.

    After realizing that Coboki and other covers were making me look worse, I decided to seriously consider SMP. Like any procedure, there is a lot of debate and confusing information on the subject. I found myself trying to sort through questions like, were practitioners faking results, did the good results look real, do people think the shaved head look is better than some hair, what kinds of long term damage was possible, and many other issues.

    It reminded me of that feeling you have when you're about to dive into a pool for the first time, and the conclusion is the same: you never know what will happen until you dive in for yourself and find out.

    I booked an appointment with a provider whom I trusted had a good chance of creating what they said they could. I wasn't naive enough to think things may not go terribly wrong. My body could reject the ink, the practitioner could be having an off day, an inexperienced newbie could be filling in at the last moment, I could have some weird skin thing that would ruin even a good application; who knew?

    The procedure lasted about five hours straight with very few breaks. It was mildly irritating at first- after about an hour it was very, very painful, though no where near as painful as the hair transplant. When I finished, the color was too dark and my pale skin was bright red. It looked like I had a skin condition. The practitioner assured me it the redness (and pain) would subside. He also assured me the ink would fade and blend in naturally. I was very skeptical, but there was no turning back.

    I went back to the hotel, grabbed a beer and comfort food (I don't drink beer, BTW), and watched movies with my girlfriend until I feel asleep. The next day I flew home. Some redness subsided. Two days later and it looked incredibly better. One week later and... yeah- just like the 'good' pictures on the net. Do I feel more confident? You bet. EVERYONE at worked complimented it. Girls seemed to really respond to it as well. I'm not even going to pretend I don't have my vanity and that I don't appreciate that.

    Lessons learned:

    This whole thing is a gamble- all of it. You get a bunch of desperate, hurt people looking for solutions and I promise, you'll find people willing to give them one, even if it's the wrong solution or there's absolutely no real proof it will work for them. Perhaps if insurance companies subsidized hair loss solutions the industry wouldn't be in the state it is. Who knows?

    I was reluctant to share my story because I don't want anyone to think their experience with any of this will be the same. Some hair transplant patients turn out looking great and retain every follicle, some lose it all overnight, some end up with terrible unsightly scars for life. Some take medicines like monoxidil and propecia with great results, others lose their sex drive, still lose hair and definitely lose money. Some have fair SMP results, some better, some outstanding, and some come out with nightmares that require laser surgery to repair.

    And none of this is CHEAP. None. Is it worth it? Depends on your results, right?

    A shaved look requires confidence, no doubt. In my corner, I had support. I actually had more support during my SMP procedure than through the other stuff because my girlfriend clearly liked me regardless of how I looked. I'm naturally confident and in pretty good shape- no six pack, but enough to look half-way decent with a shaved head; some don't. Hopefully anyone who goes into this knows their relationships and self-image isn't all just about hair.

    My journey is finished. I am genuinely happy. SMP made a difference, but so did the support. This forum is, perhaps, one of the best things we who experience hair loss have. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2019


    thanks for sharing, I just had a fue so far Im pleased..Did u ever discover why your grafts fell out? through my research I feel like thats not very common

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2014


    Thanks for reading my story. I never did find out. They didnít fall out immediately and some are still there, but most did not.

    Itís been a couple of years since the smp procedure and I can happily say it was the best choice for me. It still looks great and people still respond positively to it. Would I take a full head of hair over smp? Any day of the week! But, considering the cost and eventual failure of mine, I think smp was a great option.

    Iíve bern reluctant to tell anyone about where I got mine done, because I donít want to sound like a shill and I know results can vary, but I got mine through Mark Weston in Florida.

    He was a bit salty (which I actually enjoyed), but a good guy who really put a lot of work into it. His work is permanent, which scared me at first, but I liked the idea of never having to go back for touch ups. I also liked the lack of ink bleeding into one big blob of color. Mine still looks like the day I got it, minus the redness from the procedure.

    Again, this isnít an endorsement. No two heads are alike and anyone could have a different outcome than I. I just wanted to give credit where do.

    Again, thanks for reading.

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