I have had 4 hair transplants (three strips and one FUE) sum totaling north of 10k grafts over the last 10 years. I was also on Propecia. I was pretty happy with my hair post HT 3, however I always had the “is it out of place” jitters in public. Due to a temporary health issue I had to stop Propecia. While off of Propecia I noticed that I had a significant diminished ability to recollect memories while on the medication and I decided to stay off completely. Fast forward to today and I again was not happy with my hair. I have always hated the balding look; I want either “good” hair or no hair. Due to the strip scar shaving my head was no longer an option. I have been wearing a hat 90% of the time going out of the house for the past 3 years.
I had seen pictures of SMP and did some casual research a couple of years back. However, in January, I decided to go forward with SMP. I live in San Diego so I visited HIS Hair and Dr. Pak at New Hair, both in Los Angeles and both a few miles from each.
I visited HIS Hair and spoke with practioner Zhang, a very nice guy who actually sold me on the procedure (he had it done himself). Zhang did remind me more of a tattoo artist than a medical professional. Zhang instructed me that there would be two 4 hour sessions to achieve good results and also gave me a price.
I also saw Dr. Pak, who was also very pleasant, but didn’t speak necessarily positively on SMP. He answered my questions, showed me some results, and told me that it would take 2 to 3 sessions to achieve good results.
I was really leaning toward HIS Hair because of years in the business. However, I decided to go with Dr. Pak (even though he was more expensive) because of two reasons: (1) it was a medical office (vs a nice tattoo parlor) and (2) I have the option of anesthesia.
I shaved my head a few days in advance and one of my daughters commented that I looked like I was wearing a bald cap (even with 10k grafts placed). Honestly, I was really shocked by the width of my scar (roughly 3/4” to 1”).
SMP Session 1 (02/07/2014)
I arrived at the office at 7am (had to leave San Diego around 4:30am to get there). Christine took me in, had me sign some forms and a lunch order. Pulse and BP were done. Versed was an option, but only if I stayed in LA for the night. I had to get back to San Diego that evening as my daughters were coming home from school in the afternoon. So Dr. Pak gave me nitrous oxide (so I was unaware of the injections) and then the Lidocaine injections. I remember the injections from the hair transplants while waning off of Versed, they can be really painful.
Dr. Pak did the front hair line back to mid scalp himself; he has an amazing attention to detail. Christine (Dr. Pak’s SMP assistant) worked on me almost continuously for 8 hours that day (excluding a 30 minute lunch break). She was amazing, always making sure I was comfortable, anesthetic was still working, etc. She brought me my lunch order on a tray.
Dr. Pak and Phanna (another assistant) worked on me on and off during the day. As Dr. Pak came in he would do sections himself or instruct Christine to blend more here and there (this happened many times throughout the day). Things I thought looked awesome, he was just not happy with.
They have an internet enabled TV to keep patients occupied (Netflix, YouTube, and so on), it really did make the time go by fast.
I read in the HIS hair forums, that getting SMP done without anesthesia was common place and easily tolerated. There were points and time where the Lidocaine would wear off a bit. Christine and Dr. Pak would ask if I wanted more anesthetic when they noticed that I was starting to feel the pain. At points I would say I was fine and to continue on, I started to feel that I could have probably have done it without anesthetic, however, as I let the anesthetic wear off it got more and more painful. I really wanted to be the guy who could say he got SMP without anesthesia, but it’s not me. I can tell you now there is absolutely no way I could have had done SMP without anesthetic.
SMP Session 2 (02/14/2014)
Much of the same as procedure 1, except that the day went much longer, I arrived at 7am and left at 4:30, another 9 hours of treatment. At the end of the day he told me he wanted me back faster than the front office schedule would allow (early March), so he made time for me on 02/21/2014.
SMP Session 3 (02/20/2014)
I brought my 11 year old daughter (as she was out of school that week), she played Minecraft on her laptop the whole time (Dr. Pak gave me the office WiFi password). My daughter commented “What service they have here!” They had bought her lunch as well (she loves sushi), had a candy tray available for us, and gave her ice cream after lunch.
At the beginning of the day, Dr. Pak told me if I am unhappy with anything to call him, come back, and he will fix it. At the end of the day (after another 9 hours of work), he told me I know you’re not a big fan of traffic (as I had complained about it on each visit, it’s a 3 hour drive home at 5pm), but I want you to come back as I (Dr. Pak) am not happy.
SMP Procedure 4 (04/03/2014)
My daughter had such a good time last time, she decided to join me again (and save me a bunch of time by allowing me to use the car pool lane). It was another 8 hour session (7am to 3pm), traffic difference from Los Angeles to San Diego was much better leaving at 3pm (only took about two hours to get home).
Only real difference in this session was Tran performed the SMP instead of Christine. Tran was on vacation for my first three sessions. Tran was also very kind and always made sure I was comfortable. Dr. Pak went over my hairline and scar personally. Both Tran and Dr. Pak kept up the amazing attention to detail that NHI had showed me in the previous three sessions.
Dr. Pak mentioned in the previous sessions that I had a bit of shadow created by the unevenness in the scar on one side of my head. He said that a collagen injection should fill the area out. Again with his commitment to the final product and a satisfied customer, he did the collagen filler gratis.
The first night out after session 3 (last Friday), I got ID’s (by a 20-something waitress) and a very large bouncer. I haven’t been ID’d in 10 years. I had much better reaction from women in the bar as well, not sure if it was the look or the confidence associated with the look.
One of my friends (also a dual HT recipient) who now shaves his head, said you should shave a little closer. I think this is a great testament to the fact that SMP (when worn correctly) looks natural.
Another one of my close friends is a dermatologist (also on Propecia) was very impressed with the results.
If you are counting, we are talking about 34 hours in the chair; this doesn’t include the 6 hours of two needles going at the same time. All the shots and the sitting in place are somewhat grueling, however, I would do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, if I would have to go every month to achieve the final result I would.
I was completely enthralled with the results, as soon as I saw the results (post session 1) I wanted to go hatless in public for the first time in 3 years.
In comparison to a hair transplant, SMP is an overnight “miracle”. I have been through the pain of the hair transplant (staples and sutures in my head) and then the 6 months of waiting, hoping to have hair like Brad Pitt at the end of it and to be disappointed. To sit down for 8 hours and have “hair” is just an amazing emotional moment.