Of course I am aware that the slightly angry looking head in front of me will be far from the final result, and I am expecting most of the grafts to fall out in the coming months before it begins to regrow again. However, I am extremely happy with how the process has gone thus far. Only time will tell how good my results will be but it will be nice to watch my hair improving over the next year rather than getting worse as it has for the past 10.
I decided to have a hair transplant after shaving my head last year whilst living in Australia. It was something that I had been thinking of doing for a while, but the constant sun burn really sealed the decision. I was hoping that following the shave I would be happy and content with my bald head, however that was not the case. Some days I likes it, most days I did not. I gave it a few months and decided that for me having hair was important. I must stress that I did not do this for anyone else, I am a confident person and am under no illusion that having more hair will change my life or somehow cause beautiful women to fall in love with me. I already have a very privileged life full of fulfilment, excitement and adventure and I don’t do too badly on the beautiful women front either (if my hair is a deal breaker for a relationship then that’s not a relationship that I wish to be in).
For me the decision to get a hair transplant was a very personal one, it is something that I have not liked about myself since I was at school. I have always had thin hair, and during my 20’s it made a bolt for the door despite using Minoxidil (which I do think has slowed the issue) since the age of around 23. I am now 31 and It’s a bit of an obsession, I hate seeing pictures of myself and every time I catch my reflection in the mirror (or anything shiny for that matter, car windows, skype….spoons) I would be checking to see if my hair didn’t look too bad (that is the best I hoped for). I take great care in my appearance and health, I have been in a deeply loving if not one sided relationship with the gym since I was 18. I have built a body I am proud of and I like to dress well however I felt let down by my hair, I started to research what I could do about it.
I always thought that hair transplants were out of my budget until I came across the real self and started to read the reviews and look at pictures of others who had undergone the procedure in Turkey. I was particularly impressed with accounts that I had heard about Transest. I wanted to have the operation performed by people who regularly carry it out and who are experienced in providing a natural look, and of course the price was an issue for me. Transest seemed to tick all of the boxes. I then spent a couple of months reading more reviews, watching YouTube clips and trying to justify the expense. In the end I thought, what the hell it’s only the cost of a couple of good suits. If it goes well it will solve a issue that I have carried with me for years and if it didn’t work then I could just continue to shave my head. I had nothing (apart from money, which although something I respect and work hard for, isn’t something I value above experience and happiness) to loose, so I sent them an email. After some consultation with Sahar who works at the clinic and speaks good English I decided select my operation date and book my flights. I am a teacher so I wanted to make sure that I had the procedure at the start of the Easter holidays to allow the swelling to go down, kids can be mean.
I flew to Istanbul via Paris however the plane was delayed causing me to miss my connection. I had to stay in Paris for a night and catch the plane to Istanbul the following morning, luckily I had allowed time for such delays in my itinerary and had a day spare either side of my procedure. One thing I was not expecting was to be bit multiple times on the head by some kind of French bug. I spent the next day doing everything I could think of to try and reduced the swelling and prayed it would not affect the transplant.
Upon arriving at the Airport I was met by Mustafa (Transest’s driver), he is a happy going kind of guy and despite not speaking much English he is fun to talk at was sporting an impressive 4,000 graft transplant of his own. He showed me the before and after photos, he wasn’t smiling on his before photo, now it seem to be permanently etched across his face. Two years on and still smiling, I hope to be the same way. The drive to the hotel was an experience, thankfully Mustafa was driving and not me. The traffic in Istanbul is crazy and there seem to be no rules, it’s a who dares wins’ approach to driving but Mustafa’s smile showed no sign of relenting.
After getting to the hotel I was checked in and shown to my room. The room was nice with plenty of mod cons, and free Wi-Fi. l spent the evening in the hotel gym (as it may be my last workout for a while) before relaxing in the Spa. Not a bad way to unwind before surgery.
On the day of the operation I was collected from my hotel as 7.45am by Mustafa, myself and another patient to be travelled through the ever surprising traffic of Istanbul on the way to the clinic. I was nice to talk to another person in the same boat, he had already visited the clinic and said how nice they were and how he had met others who very very happy with their results from Transest. This relaxed me and before I knew it I was at the clinic.
Upon getting to the clinic I met with Sahar who explained what would happen and what I could expect, I signed the paperwork, paid my free ($1,790, which rose by 8% as I wanted to pay card, I would recommend bringing cash) and took before photographs of the front, top, back and sides. I then went through to see one of the technicians, also Mustafa (just to clarify, not the driver, that would have been a terrifying chain of events) who helped me into my hospital down before shaving my head and drawing around my donor area.
I was then asked to lay face down on the surgical table with my head through a hole, after my head was sanitised I was told that they would begin to apply the antistatic, apparently we were about to begin. The inserting of the anaesthetic was defiantly the worst bit, although I am fine with needles this was more than a little uncomfortable for the first few injections but I kept my focus on my new hairline and soon the area as numb and we were ready to go. Mustafa checked the area thoroughly to see if I could feel again pain, topping up any areas I indicted that I could. It was clear that he knew what he was doing and that this was a regular occurrence for him. This relaxed me more, then it was time to begin harvesting the donor follicles using the FUE method.
I was informed that the harvesting would take 3 hours, which it did and then some. The process was entirely painless although I could hear everything. I amused myself by trying to guess where they were removing the hair from and when this got boring I stared to day dream. I could happily have fallen asleep but thought I should make an effort to stay awake just in case. My head position was occasionally adjusted in order to access follicles from the back, sides and base of the donor area. The procedure involved first using the motor and then a pair of tweezers to collect the follicles in a petri dish. While these were being extracted another technician prepared the grafts and placed them in neat rows in yet more petri dishes. During the 3 hours, multiple technicians took it in turns to work on me. I liked this approach each new person was fresh and not a second was wasted. I was able to ask to go to the toilet and stretch my back during the harvesting as after a couple of hours remaining in a single position became uncomfortable.
Once they have completed collecting the grafts I was bandaged up and it was time for my hair line to be drawn on. Two surgeons performed this part each checking, analysing and adjusting the others work until they were both happy with the look. They were extremely through with this part which relieved me as it was one of my main concerns, I did not wish for a hairline that looked false or did not suit my face shape. I was asked to winkle my brow so that they could assess the musculature of my face and determine how the hair would move once transplanted, they used a tape measure to check the hairline was even and then allowed me to review it. They explained that I had a V-shaped hairline and said that this would be a very natural look for me.
I was happy with the shape and it did remind me of how my hairline had appeared during mu school years if not a little further back to suit my age. Also it meant that the area that needed to be filled was less than if I had more of a circular hairline which meant more density, this was what I hoped for the most as the thin appearance of my hair has always bothered me the most. I made sure that he intended to thicken my whole hair, front, crown and middle. I have seen others with just hair at the front and this was not the look I was hoping for. He said that I would have plenty of grafts to cover the whole head and give a good natural result, I was pleased and with this is was time for more anaesthetic.
Once again the anaesthetic was not fun, but once the first few injection had taken place the area became less sensitive and the pain was greatly reduced. Again the area was checked for pain and any areas I Indicated as painful were topped up. I was then injected with serum which apparently would help the surgeon to open the channels required for the transplant.
At this point I was asked to lay back onto the bed, on my back this time and the surgeon began to open channels on my transplant area where the grafts would be inserted. This was a very strange procedure and despite not been able to feel anything it sounded as if I was getting a hair cut, I then realised that it was actually my scalp that was being cut and decided to no longer think about it. Two Surgeons worked for around 30 – 45 minutes inserting the channels, their work been inspected by each other as they occasionally swopped roles. He said each hair required a channel and needed to be in the correct direction to look natural. This was when I realised just how many grafts I would be getting. I asked how many grafts would be inserted but he said the technician was still counting, I took this to be a positive sign and relaxed into watching music television to the rhythm of incisions been made into my scalp, it was a strange day.
Once complete, I was asked to sit up, it was time to eat. I was wheeled in a trey containing a selection of dishes. There was mushroom soup, a bread roll, pasta, mince and vegetables and yoghurt. I wolfed it down, I was frantic, apparently I needed this. I think my blood sugar must have been pretty low and there were a fair amount of bloody tissues in the bin. The food tasted great and I felt much better afterwards. As soon as I was done the trey was wheeled away as I stated earlier no time is wasted at Transest. It was now time for main event, the transplant was about to begin.
I was asked to lay back on the bed, on my back again. My neck was positioned on a rolled up towel to stop my donor area touching the bed and allow the technician access to the transplant area. Initially one person inserted the grafts one by one, I think they started on my left side but I could only guess as I could not feel a thing. After a while another technician came and took over, I think they were giving each other comfort breaks. I did not mind as the process required a lot of attention to detail, their work ethic was highly impressive. After a while the first technician came back and they began to implant the grafts together. As the procedure when on I was able to read, and my position in the chair was often adjusted however after a couple of hours I was starting to become stiff in the neck. I was filled with joint emotions, I wanted the procedure to be over as soon as possible so that I could move around but I also wanted them to keep going and build as thick as possible hairline.
At 17.45 my procedure was complete, antiseptic and antibacterial creams were applied to my donor area, these stung, maybe they were the worst part. I was then bandaged up and allowed to stand up. The procedure has started at 09.00 and finished at 17.45, an involved multiple surgeons and technicians. Almost 9 hours, I was amazed with the value for money, it was scary to think how much this procedure would have cost at home in the UK. I couldn’t wait to get a glimpse in the mirror, before I could however I was given some medication and instructions on how to use it as well as a detailed document in English about the procedure and recovery. The was an antibiotic which I have been told to take for 2 week, an anti-inflammatory drug which I must take for 3 days and some painkillers to take when needed. I was beginning to feel a little sore so I took one right away, I have not needed to take another since. With that I got changed and headed off to the toilet, that was when I got the first glimpse of my head. Despite it looking sorer than the rear end of a sexually active male Baboon I was stunned, for the first time in over 10 years I had a hairline. The team at Transest had done their part exceptionally, now all I have to do look after it.
I arrived back at the hotel and hurriedly took some photos of the area, sending them to family and friends. I was excited to share my results and reassure any concerns for my safety. Although guys often get teased about their hair loss and my friends were no expectation, everyone I had told had been very supportive of my decision since I told them what I intended to do.
I spent the evening laying on my bed reading and dosing in and out of sleep with the help of a travel pillow that allowed me to avoid contact with the transplant area. I had no pain in my head but was feeling very stiff from holding one positon for so long during the surgery.
In the morning I had breakfast and checked out of my room, I was pleased to see that the transplant area was beginning to look less red and there was only a little bit of seepage into the bandage over my donor area. I was then collected by the smiling Mustafa again, this time he had bought a goldfish, I liked him. I was joined in the car by two other patients. One who has also had the procedure on the same day as me and his fiends who informed me that he had has surgery 3 months earlier. I would not have known until he told me and I looked more closely. His hair looked really natural, no wonder his friend has decided to go for it too.
Following another eventful journey, we arrived at the clinic again, this time my bandages were removed and the transplant was inspected. Removing the bandage aggravated the donor area (I have sensitive skin) causing it to begin to bleed again, so some antiseptic was applied and more gauze as well as a headband to secure it. I was then given some specially formulated shampoo for FUE hair transplants and instructed on when and how to use it. The final step was to pose for photographs with my surgeons and shake their hands. And that is how you find me now, sitting in my hotel room looking like Rambo in a stylish black headband furiously typing away at my laptop, I have discovered a nice place to eat by the hotel and am keen to sample their delights again once I finish this review.
I fly back to the UK tomorrow afternoon, and must say that my experience in Istanbul has been excellent. Transest were highly professionally, extremely hard working and endeavoured to make my experience as good as possible. Hopefully this review has helped some people in deciding if a transplant is the correct step for them as I was helped by the others member on this board. I will keep posting my photos to show the progress of my transplant. The thing I am least looking forward to is the 1 month away from hard exercise, I have a 5x a week gym habit which will be difficult to break but the rewards will be worth the struggle.
Good luck to anyone considering or about to undergo a transplant, if you wish for any more advice or have any questions or concerns that you think I might be able to help with then feel free to contact me or reply to this post.