Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm Goin' In. Oakland, CA

In a couple hours I will be catching a taxi to Dr....

In a couple hours I will be catching a taxi to Dr. Kabaker’s office where he will perform my hairline lowering. Right now I am both ecstatic and nervous, but mostly ecstatic. I’m a bit nervous because this is an elective surgery, and who needs an elective surgery? And what about the scar? And what if an earthquake happens in the middle of suturing? After all, we are in California. In any event, my mind has been made up, and ladies and gentlemen, I’m going in.

Transportation from SFO; Pre-Op Consultation; Operation Day

Traveling from SFO is Breeze: Yesterday a.m. I arrived in San Fransciso airport after a 6 hour flight, grabbed a bite to eat, and then followed the signs to reading “To Air Train/ BART”. I caught an Air Train to the BART platform which was the next stop (the stop was announced over the PA). I went to the third floor as directed, went into the BART station, bought a ticket, waited a few minutes and then boarded. Get off at MacArthur. Go downstairs and when you exit you will see the shuttle to Summit Medical Center. If you don’t see the shuttle bus wait a few minutes, they leave pretty frequently. You will be dropped of at the entrance of the hospital, but the walk to Dr. Kabaker’s office is a two minute walk across the street. Ask the shuttle driver where 3224 Webster is if you are unsure. The ride from SFO to Dr. Kabaker was 9 bucks and about 45 minutes or so. Credit card or cash. Perfect.
Walking into the office for my pre-op conference was cool. There was water or coffee for me to drink. Sondra gave me a couple of forms to fill out, and then I was escorted to another room and waited a few moments for the maestro himself to walk in. He is tall, with a gentle but sure smile, youthful disposition, and a strong (but not overwhelmingly conceited) confidence. I was at ease immediately. We speculated about where my new hairline might be placed using temporary markers and measuring tape. I was thankful that I did not have to work too hard in terms of telling him my want for a conservative lowering. He also remembered from our Skype consultation that I wanted to keep my widow’s peak. From this point, he asked me if I wanted to see a recording of the operation. “Heck yeah!”, I replied. Off we went to his office. Not only did he show me the brief and informative video, he showed me some more of our comrades. Sure, there were the ones we’ve all seen on the website, but there were others, too. All with equally impressive results. I especially liked the one of a woman who after +5 years lost her hair during chemotherapy. The close up view of scar along the front of the scalp and the two short ones going up both sides were barely visible. One would only notice if looking very hard. Another was the one of a woman who had the two stage operation, the one with the expander and then the operation. Her results were amazing. He also showed quite a few photographs of men who had the same procedure. Dr. Kabaker’s portfolio of patients is diverse with many races, ages, head types and both genders. This was good for me to see.

The Pre-Op Consultation: Finally, Nurse Joowan came in. She has GREAT energy as she came in with a smile and a warm welcome. And of course the meds: Pain reliever, swelling and bruising tablets, and antibiotics. Directions are printed on a half sheet of paper, but even so she will answer all of your questions with patience and a smile. And she might even add a light joke here and there. I went back to the hotel feeling secure and ready for my operation the next day.

Operation day: That was today. I am not feeling tired or woozy or anything. Yet. I hope it stays that way but hey, surgery is surgery. One never knows. Today I walked into the office and was greeted again with the beautiful energy of Nurse Joowan. I signed some more papers permitting or denying consent to this and that. They also reinformed me of potential complications like scarring and hair loss (which is unusual and if it does occur is usually temporary). I was escorted to the back and then Dr. Attenello, a fellow with Dr, Kabaker until July 2015, came in, took some of those doctor photos and asked if I had any lingering questions. She is also kind and down to earth and a great fit for the Kabaker team. Dr. Kabaker came back in, redrew the lines on my forehead, showed them to me, made a correction I asked for, and then we were ready. I removed my shirt, put on one of those shirt gowns, and was escorted back to the OR. I was IVed, and Nurse Joowan, Dr. Attenello, and some other woman in scrubs were there with the maestro, Dr. Kabaker. I almost started crying because I was so nervous, but I held it together by doing some meditation. In my twilight stage, I vaguely remember saying things like “I want to see my skull” and some other weird stuff. OMG I hope I didn't embarrass myself too much :). Then I was out. Then I was awake. I cried a little bit saying something like “I made it”, a couple times. Good grief. LOL. Anyway, they showed me the before and after picture and then walked me to the recovery room where I laid down for a bit before being taken back to the hotel. Dr. Kabaker provided me with a caretaker for the trip back to the hotel. And here I am now. Alive ?, well, and not even sleepy. Where's the party! Ahem. Just kidding. Rest, read, sleep. Bandages off tomorrow. Until then….

The Pain and Other Weird Sensations

The Pain: The only other time that I have had surgery was when I had four deeply embedded wisdom teeth removed in one fell swoop. After the operation, the surgeon looks at me in the eyes and very earnestly says “Take two of these [pain pills] before the pain starts.” He turned to leave, paused, and then looked my way again. In that same serious tone he repeated himself, this time emphasizing the before-the-pain-starts part. Dramatic, I know. My life. The thing that I remember most about that surgery is avoiding straws, eating Jello and Stove Top stuffing for three or four days, and worrying if I ‘d be among the unlucky with the swollen wisdom tooth jaws forever. I do not remember any pain. Is there anything to the whole stopping it before it starts? I don’t know. But I will tell you this, I started the pain pill regimen the moment I got back to the hotel after the surgery with Dr. Kabaker, and I continued the cycle for the whole next day plus a morning. When I stopped the pain meds I patiently waited throughout the day and night for any residual pain to creep up on me. Nothing. So, I took what amounts to about two days of pain meds and then I was done. And even up to this very moment I have absolutely NO PAIN to report. Now I’m all about the antibiotics and (slightly) obsessing over my new forehead :)

Manage your pain well after this elective surgery so that you can move on with your life. Pain “limits your ability to breathe deeply, cough, walk and perform the activities necessary for a speedy recovery.” (mayoclinic.org) Pain can also temporarily increase your blood pressure, which may in turn increase bruising and swelling which will likely increase the amount of time your body takes to recover from the procedure. No thanks. Take the pills. Set your alarm. Take the pills. Repeat. To this I would just add to be smart. If your pain feels intuitively weird, or is too sharp, or is prolonged…TELL YOUR DOCTOR. That’s why we pay them the big bucks.

Other Weird Sensations: The part of my scalp that was probably manipulated most by the doctor, the front and middle of my scalp (an area aabout the size of my hand) is all numb. It feels like I put a thick layer of Krazy Glue all over the underside of a toupee, stuck it to my shaved head and then let it dry. Par for the course according to RealSelf reviews and Dr. Kabaker himself. No problem. Then, a morning or two after surgery I noticed another weird sensation…a slight liquidy feeling moving over the toupee. I immediately walked over to the mirror looking for red blood or puss or something. Nothing. Hm. I rocked my head a little to the right and a little to the left. Yep. Definitely something. UNDER the toupee. What thaaaa?!?! I took out my computer but I had one finger on the button to speed dial the doctor or 911 just in case. I did a search and then came across this question posted by RealSelfer r789: Can air get trapped inside scalp after hairline lowering procedure? According the multiple doctor replies, the liquidy feeling many experience after under the scalp is either air or a fluid that will go away soon. If prolonged presence, let the doctor know. Oh. OK. Shwew. Of course I will be personally asking the maestro about this weird sensation tomorrow. If I learn anything different I will post immediately. Cheers to all.

Stitches out

San Francisco Facial Plastic Surgeon

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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