Fast forward to now. I could finally afford the transplant this year, and decided to go forward with the decision. I must admit, the procedure is NOT CHEAP. I was a bit blown away when I got the quote, but I'm at a point in life where I could afford it.
During my initial consult, I met with the patient advocate (who was really nice), and she asked me a series of questions to determine if I was a viable candidate for the surgery. Everyone isn't eligible for the surgery; there are a number of conditions which may put you in the unviable candidate category. After the initial consult, I paid the money for my procedure, set my date, and there were a few follow up calls between surgery scheduling and the actual procedure. I found out that I wasn't a candidate for FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) so we had to go with a more traditional strip graft method. If you are an African American woman, more than likely you will have to go this route, due to the texture of our hair.
About 4 days before the procedure, you'll need to stop certain medications (NSAIDS, Ibuprofen, blood thinners, etc.) and will also have to stop hardcore exercise and any alcohol. Keep this in mind if you have a big "event" right before your procedure. The procedure itself is long, but relatively pain free. The most painful part is a vibrating machine which injects your head with lidocaine. It's not very painful, but it feels like a very very very strong vibration against your skull. The staff will order you your choice of sandwich and sides for lunch, and they'll give you plenty of medication to ensure that you're comfortable during the procedure. I slept off an on during the procedure, but there will also be music playing (your choice) to help keep you relaxed. Dr. Anderson is a funny guy and will also keep you entertained. :)
After the procedure, I didn't experience much pain either. The staff (who were very friendly during this entire process) will call you a few times during recovery to make sure you are not having any pain or complications. Take your meds on schedule, and ensure you are using your sprays and cream. About ten days after the procedure, your sutures will be removed.
I am only a few weeks out, but I can tell I have hair follicles where there were none before. I also made the decision to cut my hair very very short prior to the procedure, so I wouldn't have to worry about a landing strip in the back of my head. Eventually I'll let it grow back, but right now I'm thankful to have edges again. I'll keep updating my review with pictures as I progress.
The service Dr. Anderson and his staff provided me were impeccable. If you're in a situation as bad as mine, I'd recommend his practice to restore your hairline - and your self esteem!