Boxed in - My hair transplant story - Graft removal, Doctor and Scarring Questions -
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  1. #1
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    Default Boxed in - My hair transplant story - Graft removal, Doctor and Scarring Questions

    Hey I have some questions about my upcoming repair surgery. While attempting to write this post it kind of turned into this blown out piece about the last year and the changes in my life following a bad FUT procedure last August. I really would like some input. I listed questions below which are and numbered in the center of this post – if you just want to scroll down and read those, that is fine. I will totally not be offended. Like I stated before, I did not intend for this to be 4,000 words or so on my life following a bad transplant but it is kind of what it turned into. Although it may be somewhat wordy, unnecessary and kind of preachy it was also kind of cathartic. I haven’t really opened up to anyone in the year and change following my bad transplant so in a way this felt very comforting. But ultimately, I really wanted some feedback about Dr. Cole as well as Fue plug removal, scarring and treatment on the skin underneath.

    “Yesterday I went for a swim. First light. I went out past the surf lines, further than I had ever dared as a kid. Keep going, I thought. Keep going until you can’t turn back, that’s where there isn’t any choice. And you don’t know where that is…you can’t know until you pass it…and then it’s too late.” ~ Boardwalk Empire Eldorado

    Life is full of irony. Sometimes poetic. Sometimes earned. Sometimes unfair. Sometimes just a series of intersecting circumstances unfolding out of anyone’s control. For me, as I stand under the harsh bathroom lighting and look at myself in the mirror there is a feeling of mixed irony, that is kind of all of the above. I am suffering from a bad hair transplant. A botch job as they say. And there is a lot of blame to go around. The doctor and the technicians putting in the grafts, they are easy scape goats. It’s their fault, they did this to me, and they’re the ones to blame. But maybe it’s more than that. Maybe some of this was just chance, poor healing and reactions that can happen even when the doctor and his staff are 100 percent thorough on their end. Like Andy Dufresne once said. “Bad luck. It has to land on somebody.” Maybe that fictional character from Shawshank is right. Maybe it was just bad luck, maybe it was just my time. But honestly, I know better than that. And the answer on who is to blame isn’t something so binary. It’s not black or white. It’s not A or B. It more complicated. Ironically the person to blame the most is the one starring back at me in the mirror. This is on me. I had always been semi neurotic about my hair, call it a blend of insecurity mixed with neurosis, topped with narcissism. Anyone who plays god with their hair line can kind of relate. I put myself down this path when I carelessly got a transplant in my early twenties. And although, I thought I was doing the right thing with the right doctor, I doubled down on that carelessness a year ago. So now here I am. Just another guy, on another forum, wishing he could turn back the hands of time so he didn’t feel like just another statistic, just another notch on the bedpost for botchjobs. And the most ironic thing of all is I would give anything just to go back to where I was before I got the surgery. I would give ANYTHING to have the hair I thought I couldn’t live with just a year and a half ago. Because losing your hair is one thing but being trapped under the umbrella of a bad transplant is entirely another. Its apples and bowling balls. And the worst part is, you have to live with it, you have to own it. Life only moves one way, forward…there is no going back.

    So down to brass tacks. I don’t want to harp too much on this particular subject. I am here like most people on these forums for help and information from people with far more knowledge and credibility on the matters of hair transplants and repair surgery than I will ever be. You guys will forget more than I will ever hope to know and for that I am grateful. And in a demonstration of my gratitude I have some important questions. Lol. Questions that I hope to get vetted. But before I dive into that, I figure I should go over just a little bit of back story about what exactly I have been going through this past year.

    I had an FUT procedure done 14 months ago. 1000 grafts in the front and temples on my hairline. I started noticing how much trouble I was in once the grafts starting growing around 8 months post-surgery. For one, my hairline was done too low. There is a vast difference to the grafts in the front in context to the ones behind it and to my natural hair. I call this hair “The Wall”. I have call this the wall because that is what it essentially is – a wall of pluggy and coarse like hair that coats around my hairline unmanageably. Imagine wiry, ugly, doll like hair coating over the rest of your hair in almost a Venus fly trap motion in how it grows. Not only does it look objectively awful, it is nearly impossible for me to style or cut my hair in any fashion. And trust me I have tried every haircut imaginable that you can attempt with an ugly strip scar in the back of your head. It has been devastating on almost every level because not only does it look bad, I can’t style it in any feasible way and I also have a nasty strip scar in the back which doesn’t allow me to get a proper haircut. I am boxed in on almost every level. It’s funny (or kind of just deeply sickening) that I have never had MORE HAIR in my entire life and I HAVE NEVER EVER EVER looked worse. How’s that for irony. I wake up every day and look in the mirror at this great head of hair that I can’t utilize or get to because of this wall of awful grafts in the front. I have a lot of great hair on my head. A LOT. It is just undercut from this past surgery. I guess I didn’t appreciate just what I had until it was gone. I sound like a bad pop song, but the shoe fits as they say. And that is something I am going to have to learn to live with. I visited my doctor who performed the surgery 3 times and had an open correspondence through email over the past 6 months. I expressed concerns about the surgery, about how the transplants were affecting my hair now that they were growing in, how the right side of my temple hurt and how my hair ultimate looked. The doctor not only assured me that surgery was fine, that my skin underneath was fine, and that the transplant was a massive success. “I look great” were his words exactly. And his words still cut like a knife because maybe in his eyes the surgery was a success. Yes, I have a lot of hair. Because I didn’t feel great. I felt damaged, scarred and diminished. And I was starting to feel like maybe I was wrong, maybe I was too deep in the forest to see the trees, maybe I was going crazy. That is until I saw two other hair transplant surgeons and got their unbiased opinion.

    Time for the meat and potatoes portion of this post, and I appreciate you guys bearing with me while I try and put my words together. Writing about this subject has been very difficult for me but also kind of therapeutic in a way, so at least there’s that. I put together a short list from doing some online research about repair surgery and graft removal. From my research online I found a Dr. Cole in Atlanta and a Dr. Cooley in North Carolina. I flew out over a week ago from NJ and consulted with each. My consult with Dr. Cole started off a little shaky, mainly because I was. I was a nervous wreck. Kevin from A Christmas Story nervous wreck, like when he was meeting Santa at the mall and trying to convey how much he really wanted red ryder bb gun but was so nervous by the severity of the moment that he choked. Santa ended up telling him he wanted a football and he left with a foot in the face. That was basically me. When Dr. Cole walked in the room and asked what I was unhappy with, I was having a full blown panic attack. My heart was racy and I was stammering my words. You have to understand I had over 6 long months of borderline obsessing about my hair and what was happening to it, researching possible solutions to a bleak and almost solution-less scenario, as well as having the only doctor I consulted about this tell me everything was fine. So this consultation was a big deal to me. It was like the super bowl of deals to me and of course I was choking in the moment. I was waiting for Dr. Cole to stop me mid-sentence, tell me how “great” I looked and send me back on my way. Thankfully that was not the case!

    One of the first things Dr. Cole said to me was…”Who did this you?” He had a look of blank sincerity mixed with seriousness that was as damning as it was comforting. I had known I was fuked (for lack of a better word). The reality was a total kick in the gut, but it was also somewhat comforting. It meant that I wasn’t crazy!

    The long and the short of his analysis was that my hairline was placed too low, and too straight, the type of grafts used in many places especially on the right portion of my hairline were the wrong kind and likely placed with instruments too big. He was concerned about my skin underneath. I have some ridging and some scarring at the far end of my right temple. (Hence the reason I had some scalp pain that my previous doctor said was nothing to worry about) He attributed this some to the surgery and the tools used during surgery but also to the amount of grafts put in. His comparison was that of a glass of water. When you put a rock in a glass of water what happens to the water? The water level is raised. In many ways that is what is happening with my head. He said the amount of grafts put have caused a similar kind of reaction on my scalp and getting some removed would help alleviate not only the discomfort but some of the ridging. He recommended FUE removal of the grafts in the front to help thin out the wall, which he said he could get off of my head nearly scar free. Obviously there is some semblance of a white dotting, but as he described it, when it is done on the forehead or front of the hairline it is much less detectable than FUE scarring on other areas of the head. So all in all we are looking at FUEing off as many as we can in the front, maybe around 100. Possible plug redistribution on the temple areas of my scalp depending on how my skin is reacting as well as filling in the scar in the back which would take roughly around 300 to 400 grafts. He also said he would not be opposed to going slow. Since I was burned bad in the past, and wanted to remove say only a few plugs the first time and see for myself how the healing would take. My main trepidation to him was the scarring that results from graft removal and how everything I have researched at the time, had come up with a list of hair transplants doctors in the field recommending against it.

    I went from Atlanta to Charlotte and met with Dr. Cooley. My confidence was a little more intact this time, so I wasn’t a stammering mess like I was when I met with Dr. Cole. I actually spoke confidently and articulately if I can so say myself. From doing research about Cooley I know he specializes in electrolysis when it comes to hair repair surgery. I was private messaging with someone on this forum who had recently had a bad FUT transplant and went to Cooley for repair, where Cooley used electrolysis to remove a number of grafts implanted too low on the front of his hairline. So be that as it may, I was surprised to hear when Cooley did not recommended electrolysis for my condition. His recommendation was more of the same. He said where I am at my repair surgery could go one of 2 ways. One, completly removing the transplanted grafts in the front by cutting them out. He said this would be the only way to remove the wall of bad grafts completely. Although that might fix one set of problems for me, it would also result in creating a new set of more. The scaring in the front would be really drastic and even Cooley mentioned this approach would probably be way too aggressive right now. The second approach would be to FUE off as many as we could. Although if the grafts in the front are like a wall of bad hair this wouldn’t 100 percent resolve the problem because in essence you are only taking a few bricks out and now breaking down the wall so to speak, but he recommended around 100 grafts removed around the front and temples of my hairline along with filling in the back of my scar which would roughly take around 300 to 500 grafts. He agreed with Cole about the scaring and said a skilled surgeon can get them out of the front of my head without real noticeable scars, especially since I have a lot of hair on my head still, which could help camouflage that sort of thing unless someone is extremely close up to my head and scalp and distinctly looking for them. This is all good news of course, the bad news was that he was concerned with the skin underneath some of my grafts. He said the ridging isn’t so much from amount of grafts put in on my head – hence the rock in a cup of water analogy Cole used, but more of just scar tissue from the surgery itself. He strongly and I repeat strongly recommended A Cell treatment which is supposed to help improve the blood flow to the skin underneath which could help with pigment issues as well as overall healing in those areas. Now I am not only scared to death about the white dot scarring that will happen when I FUE these awful grafts off, but of what my skin will look like once they are gone. Granted it is only in the front of my hairline, but if you have ever googled plug removal and looked at photos on the internet it is quite damning. I mean the pinning and the pigment alone in some of those photos almost made me contemplate if I should just shave it all off and don a hair piece. Obviously that is not going to happen, but these things have got to come off one way or another and before I do so I hope to get some feedback.

    After seeing both doctors and getting their independent opinions and both Dr. Cole and Cooley coming up with the same result it is safe to say that I know which direction to take. So these are my questions…

    1. Am I safe with Dr. Cole? I know with the word surgery there is always risk. Nothing is full proof when it comes to hair transplant surgery, hair transplant repair or just plastic surgery in general, so using the word safe doesn’t fully apply. I guess what I am trying to say is, does Dr. Cole put me in the best possible position for getting the results I wish to achieve. I have done some vetting of Cole and what I learned is the guy is basically a wizard at FUE. Having one of the top minds and surgeons in the field at FUE is very key since the basis of my surgery revolves around getting grafts removed via FUE. The scary part is that like a lot of other doctors in this field Cole seems to have some baggage. There are some scary posts floating around about him and one hair forum that even black listed his name off of their site. I know there is always context to everything but I have a lot at stake on this next surgery and being as I have already been burned before I want to make sure I vet each and every doctor to the best of my ability. So with that being said, is Cole the best doctor I can see for graft removal and repair using FUE? Am I safer with Cooley? Should I consult or look into seeing someone else? There is a heavy wait to get surgery done with Dr. Cooley, earliest available would be March / April, with Dr. Cole I could get in almost immediately. I don’t necessarily mind waiting if it means getting the surgery done right, obviously. This is my last chance or possible only chance, and my hair and skin are at a crucial point, I can’t afford another bad surgery. I need to get this right. If Cole is a good choice then I would like to get the ball moving as soon as possible. What matters is going with the guy who is going to give me the best chance for a successful repair.

    2. Thoughts on A CELL? This this something I should definitely get along with the FUE graft removal. I am extremely worried about my skin, but I know that these grafts need to come off all the same. Are there any other methods or treatments I can seek to go along with A Cell? Worse case I figured I could use some Dermatch and possible some cover up in places if needed, to help camouflage and conceal possible skin issues. But the ridging and scarring is a legit issue, and I have seen all the horror photos online with plug removal and there are some nasty photos, which is less than encouraging. So any help or feedback in this area would be greatly appreciated.

    3. Scarring. Hair transplants are permanent, this I know. So there is no way to get these grafts off without some semblance of scarring. The question is, how bad? According to two of the top surgeons in their field that I consulted – not so much. But I have googled this subject pretty tiresomely and what I have found on the internet is not so optimistic. There are not too many pictures that show successful FUE graft removal surgeries. I see a lot of graft redistribution photos and went through a bunch performed by Dr. Cole. But with my specific issue there is little on the internet as far as photos that go with successful FUE graft removal that will allow me to realistic judge for myself how I think the scarring will look. Even more troubling is the prominent hair transplant surgeons in the field that have openly spoke against removing plugs via FUE. Doctors such as Fellar, Dua, Pak and Rossman have all warned on forums not to have the procedure done. With all of this information to consider I would love your thoughts on plug removal via FUE. One way or another these grafts really need to come out and if my skin is in way too critical of a condition for electrolysis and I don’t want to deal with the fallout from getting a brow lift on my head. I see no other option. But with getting a 100 or so removed from the front portion of my hairline. What am I realistically looking at scar wise?

    “You think you’re going to begin your life over, do it right. But what if you never get passed the beginning?” ~ Mad Men

    I’ve been thinking about that quote a lot this past year. I think about every morning when I look at myself in the mirror and every night as I lay my head on the pillow. I think about where I was just a few short years ago. And how I would give anything to go back. This last year or so of my life has been filled with such stress and pain it might take another 3000 words to describe. I lost my career, I lost the relationship I was in with the person I thought I was starting a future with. And the stress of this transplant is worse than anything I would have felt if I just let my hair recede naturally. I have always had maybe this unhealthy obsession with my hair. When my hair looked good, I felt good. And when I was having a bad or off hair day, I felt off. In the last few years prior to this surgery I had begun to correlate how I felt psychology and emotionally with how my hair looked. And that is not only unhealthy but it is definitely a reason that led me down the path that I took, and one of the reasons I am sitting here alone, in my empty apartment typing this post slash letter for help. I have had to own that. And the only solace I can take from all of this is that today I no longer feel as strongly about my hair as I once did. Going through this bad surgery has stripped most of that away. I have been forced to live every day of my life under the umbrella of a bad hair day. And it forced me to think more rationally not only about my hair but about my life. It forced me to smile again, regardless of how my hair looked. It took a lot of pain and time to get here. But this is where I am at. I no longer seek perfection out of my hair. I just want to look and feel normal again. I want to stop existing and start living! I am ready to move on, from all of it. I hope to get the repair surgery I deserve and fix the scar in the back of my head and just age naturally. If that means losing a bunch of hair on my head…so be it. Ce la vi. It’s true you can’t go back. You can never go back. And honestly that is not what this is about. This is about moving forward.

    Thank you all for your time. Good thoughts and love always. I do appreciate everything you guys do.

    · Point of information

    I wanted to just point out that I chose not to disclose the name of the doctor who performed the FUT surgery on me last year. I know some of you might say it is my duty to warn others of bad surgeons out there to help prevent others from having the same bad experience. This is true, but honestly I did not want this post to become referendum on my previous doctor. All due respect but **** him. This isn’t about him. He has taken enough from me and I didn’t want this post or thread to become about his ability as a surgeon. He may be a fine surgeon and has a pretty solid reputation across the board. Maybe my experience with him is an outlier and I am in the minority of people that have had bad surgeries when dealing with him. I am not after money or trying to smear his name on the internet. To be fair to him also, my life was falling apart at the time and I rushed into a procedure without fulling vetting the situation as well as other options outside of my area. I bet on the wrong doctor without micromanaging what exactly I wanted done with my hair. I let him quarterback it for the most part which was a huge mistake. Also, there are many situations prior to surgery and post surgery that I think he handled poorly, but honestly, still, I am the one to blame. I am just trying not to make the same mistake twice. The reason I posted this was because I wanted some feedback regarding the repair surgery I intend on getting done and vetting the doctors to which I have looked into getting the surgery done with. I can’t go back. It’s too late. But I can move forward…and in the end that is what it’s all about.

    If anyone has any questions and wants to contact me directly, please feel free to do so. Thank you again for taking the time.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2017


    Ok first of all it doesn't look that bad all, you still have lots of hair. I'm not saying it's not bad just doesn't look as bad as you think it does.
    I would see Dr. Bisanga from BHR clinic he is one of the best fue guys in the world. He does come to the u.s for conferences so I would try to hook up with him then.
    I spent 5 years researching Drs and decided on him but turned out I didn't have enough donor hair.
    Google topcat hair repair and that will provide you with a lot of info. Dr Cole has a very good reputation but I would see Bisanga first.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Jan 2017


    You make any decisions?

  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2018


    I appreciate the response. And you're right of course. I still have a lot of great hair on my head and I guess ultimately that is the point. I'd love to get to a point where I can utilize it again. The coarse pluggy coast around the front of my hairline is too low and looks very unnatural at best. As far as what to do...honestly idk. I posted on a couple forums and haven't got really anything back other than a few ppl telling me to just leave it alone and don't touch the skin underneath - which is concerning. I plan on looking into Topcat hair repair at your recommendation and I have also been following up with Dr Cole and the people in his office who have been really great through this entire process. But honestly I am so scared man. I don't want to make the wrong decision again with the wrong doctor.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2017


    You have plenty of time...see Dr. Bisanga or at least get a online consultation but i would see him.

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