Eamon’s Hair Transplant Journey - Part II: During Treatment
Posted Feb 16, 2017
by Ambra Andrei
In the first part of his journey, Eamon opened up about his struggle with hair loss and why he decided to opt for hair transplant surgery. On preparing for his trip to Poland, Eamon described his personal story and thoughts before leaving.
Eamon travelled to Poland the day before his treatment. On arriving at the clinic, something unexpected happened during the routine consultation. Keep reading to discover how Eamon’s procedure went and how he was feeling during the treatment.
Here are Eamon’s own words:
Here’s how my treatment started. At 7 AM on the morning of my operation, I was taken to a clinic where I had a blood sample taken to be tested and results sent to my medical team. It was literally in and out in 5 minutes and painless.
After arriving at the clinic at 9 AM, the surgeon took me to his office and told me the blood test results were fine and then we had the pre-op discussion. I filled out a questionnaire about my medical history, what medications, if any, that I was taking, pre-existing conditions I may have. The usual stuff you’d expect before going under the knife.
Then came something I wasn’t prepared for.
In the first part of story, I did not mention a medical condition I have, called hypertension, or as it’s more commonly known, high blood pressure. This was apparently a very big factor in my surgery.
The medical team in Poland were quite concerned as to whether or not on the day I would actually be able to have the procedure done as my blood pressure was exceptionally high. Part of the elevated pressure was obviously some anxiety and fear of the unknown. Here’s the reason why.
Before starting the actual procedure, Dr. Borejsza showed me the “in between” photos. He said, “We’ve all seen the before and after shots, but these are the what-could-happen photos”.
The idea behind the photos is to give you an understanding in advance of what reaction some candidates took after having a transplant. The side effect photos I saw varied from swelling from the saline solution that is injected to fill up the implantation area to allow for the grafts to take, to heavy reddening of the skin around the donor area, to bruised eyes caused by the trauma experienced during the surgery. The doctor explained that every surgery brings a risk factor but also that these reactions were not very common. Still, they could happen and the patient would only find out after the surgery.
After viewing these pictures and finishing the consultation, my donor area was checked using a close-up camera. It revealed I had very thick donor hair at the rear of my head with good follicles to be harvested for implantation. I was measured with various devices to see where my new hairline would be and a red line was drawn on my forehead as a guide, not only for the doctor to see where to place the grafts, but also for me to see in advance where the transplanted hair would go.
I didn’t like where the line was drawn, I felt it was too far forward for a 47-year-old man, it would look too artificial, which my doctor agreed with, so we made a 50/50 compromise and moved it back a bit to make the finished result look more natural for a man of my age.
The doctor then asked me if I was ready to proceed, I signed the consent form and that was it. Later on, we headed into the theatre and I had my blood pressure taken. I could see from the nurse that she wasn’t happy with the result. She spoke with the doctor who then gave me a blood pressure reducing tablet and I waited about 20 minutes for the blood pressure to go down. It did go down, but not enough.
After a second reading, my pressure was still too high, so I got a second tablet, which after 30 minutes reduced it sufficiently to allow for the surgery to proceed. I also was given a sedative in tablet form to take. This was just to relax me and allow me to be more calm during the process.
I was given clothes to change into in the form of disposable top and bottoms. Quick little tip: Wear a shirt and a zip-up jacket or hoodie to the clinic. Reason being is your head will be in bandages and you can’t pull anything over your head, so anything that buttons up is perfect. Keep that in mind also for the trip home on the plane.
Now it was time for the operation to begin.
The doctor gave me two stress balls to hold. I wondered what they were for, and I wasn’t long finding out. He said “this will hurt quite a bit but only for a few seconds." And he was right! It was the local anaesthetic that was injected into my scalp. Now I’m not going to sugar coat this, it was excruciatingly painful but literally for only about five seconds. Then nothing, not a feeling, totally numb. And for the entire operation I felt not one thing.
I cannot stress that enough, there was NO PAIN at all after that initial sharp jab going in.
Of the operation itself, I remember very little. I could hear but not feel the instrument going in to harvest the hair. I needed 3000 grafts, so you can imagine that it took some time to get this work done.
My surgeon harvested all the donor hair first, had a break for food and a little rest, and then implanted the hair in the recipient area. I was told that normally the whole thing would take 6-8 hours, but because of my hypertension, it took in total 11 hours.
I should also mention that I was under the illusion that I could read a book or watch a movie on my tablet, but that’s not the case. You really need to work with your surgeon and listen to his request to move this way, hold still, and so on, so as to get the best out of your time on the table. I in fact actually drifted off to sleep for a few hours and apparently, I snored quite heavily!
Here are a couple of pictures of myself before and after the procedure:
Once surgery was done, we had another consultation about aftercare and the products I should consider using to keep the area clean. I was also given instructions about on-going treatments to help keep the implanted hair and also stunt further hair loss down the line. I was recommended various items including tablets, sprays, and shampoos.
These items are horrendously expensive in Ireland (I checked when I got back home), as what I bought would have cost in excess of €320. I bought the same items in Poland for a mere €87: a massive saving. There’s also a pharmacy directly under the clinic that stock everything you’ll need.
Another tip: When you are going over, put your suitcase through and onto the plane. I know it’s a little more expensive, but remember you’ll have lots of liquids and tablets to bring home which you won’t get through on hand luggage.
I left the surgery about 11:30 PM having arrived at 9 AM that morning. A very long day indeed. The doctor had told me that sleeping the first night after the operation was probably not going to happen due to restlessness and the requirement to sleep sitting up so as not to disturb the recent implants. He was so right.
In fact, I didn’t really sleep properly for about 3 days. I came home on the plane with a small travel pillow and it was great, so I went looking for a nursing pillow at home that I had from the birth of my child a few years earlier. It looks like an upside-down V shape. I suggest you buy one of these in advance, if you are going for this treatment. It supports your shoulders and neck whilst leaving the head free of touching anything. In my opinion, it’s an absolute essential item to have.
Since I’ve been home, the main problem I’ve had has been the scabbing and the skin irritation. My skin feels very tight on my head and very itchy.
Colin, a friend of mine from Dublin who had the same kind of transplant done a year previous, told me to resist the temptation to scratch my head at all costs. It has been so hard, but I know if I do, I’ll pull out vital implants and be left with patchy bits.
I also had very mild yellowish bruising around my eyes, again, caused by the fact that I had head surgery. At the clinic, I was given a to-do list with recommendations of what to do after I came home. It tells you how to gently clean your head and general care for the affected area. The numbness is also going, but I’ve also had a few headaches since my procedure, nothing a few pain killers can’t take care of anyway.
Overall, I was really impressed with my trip to Poland to have my hair done.
While I was there I took a trip to Auschwitz. It’s only about 30 miles from the clinic. It’s not for everyone, but I’m glad I made the journey. Also near the clinic are the Salt Mines, I didn’t get to see these, but you can go for a visit if you are at a loose end before or after your operation.
The hotel that the clinic put me up in was ideally situated. It was a five minute drive from the clinic. It was spotlessly clean, a bit basic, but had a bar, free WiFi, and a restaurant. Within a two minute walking distance there are a number of stores when you can get chocolate, crisps, and drinks. The usual things to have in your hotel room to munch on during downtime.
It has only been a little over a week since I had my transplant. I have noticed little spiky hairs all over the area that was totally bare a few weeks ago.
I have to say I’m so excited at the prospect of seeing the progression to having a full head of hair again after so long.
I’ve been very upfront with people about having a hair transplant. To me it’s nothing to be ashamed or apologetic for. The support and positive comments I’ve gotten from everyone are truly amazing. One week down and all I can say to you is a similar line to a famous commercial: Just Do It.
I’d just like to say thank you to Dr. Maciej Borejsza and his team and the team at Qunomedical. These people have no clue how they have really impacted on my life at this moment. Thanks so much guys.
Now, as for you the reader, thanks for taking the time to view my story and check back again over the next few weeks for more on my story and more pictures of how I’m progressing.”
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