What is it like really to have a hair transplant – everything you need to know

balding man in his fourties

Ok so you’ve looked in the mirror a few times and you’ve noticed your hair receding or maybe you caught a view of the back of your head on CCTV and it looked a bit thin back there. Or even worse your mates down the pub can’t stop taking the piss about your bad comb over! No probs right? Well that depends, hair loss can be a serious issue when it impacts our self confidence and mental well-being; there is a reason why a whole industry has sprung up to cater to your every need! The only issue is that not all of them deliver what they promise, so speaking to an expert such as The Private Clinic of Harley Street is critical.

So far I presume because you are reading this article that you know exactly what a hair transplant is but for the for the uninitiated I’ll do a quick re-cap. In very basic terms they take hair from the sides of your head which are more resistant to the DHT (the chemical that causes the hairs to drop out in the first place) and then insert these into the area that is going bald. Does it work? For most people the answer is yes but you will need to take medication for the rest of your life otherwise mother nature will keep eroding your hair. Like most things in life prevention is better than cure so the sooner you seek medical advice the better, even if you are in your 20’s!

FUE vs FUT hair transplant

Let’s cut to the chase, all of the above had happened to me, so from a personal perspective going under the cosmetic knife was a big decision but one I thought was worth the risk. To give you some background I’ve been losing my hair since my late 20’s and have tried minoxidil (the liquid stuff) and propecia / finasteride (the pills) all of which at best halted my hair loss and at worse slowed the rate of decline. I’m now nearly 40, therefore a hair transplant had always been something on my radar but when I shaved my head and my wife cried I thought I better take action.

Once you’ve made the conscious decision to go ahead with a hair transplant the next step is to figure out where and who with. Sure, you can get a hair transplant in India, Turkey and good luck to you but after doing a lot of research on the internet I booked in for a consultation with Dr Raghu Reddy at the Private Clinic of Harley Street who was refreshingly honest. The first recommendation was to wait at least a few months to see if we could reverse any of the hair loss by going back on Propecia. I think this is always a positive sign when a doctor doesn’t just want to get you booked in asap but really tries to help ‘cure’ the problem. (I’d actually been off propecia for 4yrs whilst my wife and I had children). Anyway, as disappointed as I was not to be having the procedure done there and then, I agreed with his strategy and to my surprise it did help. I’m not saying I was suddenly like Samson but some hairs did grow back and I could see a small improvement. During this period I was in regular contact with Dr Reddy and the team who were all super helpful and incredibly knowledgeable answering any of my questions. It was nice knowing that it wasn’t a closed door and then I’d be back to square 1 after this trial period and have to have the same conversations again. It really felt as though I was on a course of treatment with them and they were helping me along my journey.

So after 6 months, the day came and I found myself getting up bright and early to go to the clinic for the treatment. I was obviously a little apprehensive but I’d read all the literature the clinic had sent me, watched countless hours of videos on youtube and googled all manner of things so I thought I was well prepared. As soon as I arrived, I immediately felt at ease, the surgery is really nice and the staff are incredibly friendly. A few forms to fill out, pick my lunch and then onto meet Dr Raghu Reddy for a final chat about the days procedure and to put my mind at rest in respect to any further questions I had.

The-private-clinic-harley-street-london

Next it was off to have my head shaved to allow the hair to be easily extracted, no biggie for me as I already have a grade one but be warned they need to cut it to 0.5mm! All this was super quick and painless, a cup of tea and then onto the operating room. Personally I felt this was more akin to a dentist surgery than an scary operating theatre you see on the movies but don’t worry everyone is wearing scrubs and and the place is pristine and sterilised. You even get a TV to watch whilst the operation takes place.

injections into head

So the big question, does it hurt? Obviously sticking needles in your head, pulling out hair follicles and then inserting them back in isn’t going to be a lovely experience so you are given a local anaesthetic to ensure you don’t feel any of this, This isn’t pleasant and is actually the worst part of the whole procedure but even then, it doesn’t really hurt either, it’s a series of pin pricks and then you are done, the whole area goes numb. It is a strange feeling almost like something is stuck to your head which is a good thing, trust me. Dr Raghu Reddy and the team then set about the job, carefully selecting the follicles to extract, grading them and prepping them to be inserted. An hour or so passes, then you get a break, some hairs are inserted, another break and then more insertions. This process generally goes on all day with my procedure finishing around 5pm so all in all about 6 hours if you exclude lunch.

One of the team then took some photos, briefed me on the medication I would need to take which is a combination of antibiotics to fight infection, some painkillers and anti inflammatory pills. Not to forget a saline spray which you need to apply every 30 minutes. My wife seemed to think this was hilarious. I’m not sure why she found it so funny but it is essential to help the wounds heal. So much for sympathy!

I took a cab home which they advise for safety and a low salt dinner, Netflix and bed. I’d read that you need to sleep on your back almost upright to help with the swelling but because my operation was on the crown this was less of an issue. Pro tip, make sure to use the dressing pads in your goody bag as there will most likely be some minor bleeding from the donor area. I’d read that some people find it difficult and were in pain but I think I was really lucky as I only woke up once and didn’t even need any painkillers.

post care shot

And here I am day two after the operation typing up this article and I can honestly say I feel great. I haven’t taken any painkillers as I simply didn’t need them. The biggest irritation is the desire to scratch my scalp after spraying the saline solution. The donor area is rapidly settling back to normal and now looks more like a shaving rash than heavily used pin cushion. The crown where I had the hair implanted is still very obvious but is scabbing over well and I’m planning on going back to work on day 4. I’m still taking propecia (finasteride) and will most likely need to be on this for the rest of my life so if you are thinking of having a similar procedure just bare that in mind. I’ll try and update the article in a few months so you can better see the results from the op.

In summary I would like to say a huge thank you to all the team at The Private Clinic of Harley Street for the both the care and skill they provided to me on the day. I honestly felt like I was in great hands and everyone was there to help.

 

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