My first FUT transplant was in North Carolina...
My first FUT transplant was in North Carolina almost 15 years ago. That procedure was approximately 2000 (cannot remember if it was grafts or follicles, thought it was grafts). The procedure was done with good quality but the density was not what I was hoping for. This procedure was to increase that density.
- FUT vs FUE: Chose FUT for higher density / lower cost and this Trichophytic Closure incision would better camouflage my prior incision
- Comparing certified / recommended practitioners from the US, Mexico, and India. US costs were roughly 3x the cost of the other 2. India was the best pricing at ~$3000 for 3500 grafts (Medispa Hair Transplant Center). Mexico (Neopel Clinic) and quoted me ~2000-2300 grafts / 4000 hairs for $3000. Mexico was the best balance, but the actual number of grafts / hairs provided was less than quoted.
A transfer from San Diego airport and a hotel in Tijuana is included in the price. I was picked up by a wonderful driver and she was able to quickly navigate the border crossing and within 5 minutes we were at the clinic. She also picked me up promptly when the procedure was done and again back through the border crossing (don't forget your passport).
Furniture is more visibly worn than what you would encounter in a U.S. office, but it all operates fine and the necessary equipment is there.
The price quoted above is a cash price, credit cards cost more because of the fees. There was also a deposit required which can be done by bank direct deposit (addtl small fee) or credit card (higher fee).
Mine was a late start for 2 reasons. When I first arrived not all the nurses had arrived as yet. Once they had come in there was a cosmetic surgery emergency which shared the facility. But even with this later start the entire procedure was still over at around 3PM which was close to the originally promised time.
More details in the doctor / practitioner review. A local anesthesia is provided both on the donor and transplant site areas. A small sedative is also provided (relaxes, does not knock you out). Being tired from the trip, and having been through the procedure before I simply took a nap and slept through most of the procedure. There is no movie / entertainment outside of some background music, but it doesn't last long enough to need that IMO.
My actual number of grafts was 1650 and ~3700 hairs which was less than my original quote from the clinic for the price. I am hoping this is will be enough density for my needs.
I was provided a nice homemade lunch of carne asada (delicious) and was walked through what I needed to do / not do over the next couple of weeks. I also received my medications prior to departing.
Pain was not significant, but can be felt. Medications / painkillers are easy to take and help to a degree. The first 2 night sleeps are at an inclined 45 degree angle and I personally cannot get good sleep in that position. If you cannot either be prepared to be tired for the following couple of days. You'll also have to wear a loose surgeons cap for those two days, so be aware of appearance if that is critical.
Following pictures are prior to the procedure, I'll add some post pics in a couple of days when I get a better camera. Hair will be falling out shortly (3-4 days post op) and then coming back in around 3-4 months when I'll take some additional pics.
Post Op 2 Day Pictures
Here are pics 2 days after surgery. The majority of my scalp is still numb, I am expecting / hoping the sensation to return shortly. Some minor bleeding the first day after surgery but not significant. Am looking forward to not having to sleep at a 45 degree angle tonight.
Post Op 10 Day Pictures
Numbness on the scalp is still there but I have some sensation returning. Scabs have flaked off, and a minor bit of of hair. Sensitivity on the donor and transplant area is much reduced at this point, sleeping through the night is not an issue.
Post Op 20 Day Pictures
I'm a bit frustrated at this point. In the original post I mentioned that the graft / hair count was less than what was agreed upon by the doctor's office, which makes me concerned about the final density. At the 20 day mark, based on my experiences from my first FUT, I am not where I expected to be at this point:
1) New incision area was not done over the existing scar to hide it as requested: My original procedure had a standard closure and there was a faint line that still remained after all these years. I had requested the new incision / closure to cover / clean up that area. I can now see the new incision is *above* the prior incision. Now I have two incision lines on the back of my head.
2) The donor area was shaved so short that even after 3 weeks there is still not enough hair growth to cover it, and it is very visible. At this point I can no longer wear a hat to cover it, and by this time with my prior procedure it was camouflaged enough that I could return to work with minimum notice.
3) The transplant area is still redder in tone than the surrounding areas, which also makes it apparent that something was done in that area. Again, in my prior procedure by this time the skin tone was matching the surrounding area.
I have contacted the doctor's office with my concerns, we will see what they say.
- Most of the transplanted hair has fallen out by this point (expected)
- Significant scabbing at the donor incision area. Massaging helps to some degree but the dried out scabs are especially noticeable with the short shaving in that area.
- Scalp numbness is still there, but better than at the 10 day mark.
Currently I am not expecting any significant change until the 3 month post op mark ( little over 2 months from now) when the new hair grows in. I will post again at that point.
Pos-Op issues with Neopel, inability to address issues collaboratively significantly changes review ratings
From my prior post, I have been attempting to resolve a couple of significant issues with Neopel regarding my procedure for the past month. After numerous communications with Neopel it has become obvious that my documented issues and concerns are not going to be addressed. While the initial procedure went fairly well, it is also of relevance how a clinic addresses issues after the procedure is completed. In this case, Neopel did this very poorly.
The issue stems from 2 main problems: 1) The hair transplant / graft count being lower than agreed upon / promised 2) The area of the donor strip in a completely different area than my prior scar, now leaving me with two scars
First, the now second scar. In my very first email to Neopel I indicated that I wanted the new donor area to be over the original scar area. I wanted the new closure technique to present a single less visible scar. Again, this was in my very first communication with Neopel. When I realized after the surgery that Dr Hernandez had ignored that and cut a new donor scar I was extremely upset. I had specifically requested this from the beginning and was never told that a second scar would be made. The initial response from Neopel was that Dr Hernandez discussed this with me in the pre-op meeting just prior to surgery. First, she did not. This would certainly have raised red flags given this was one of my two key concerns. Second, for the sake of argument, let's say that conversation did actually take place. Why would the first time that be discussed is right before my surgery when I'm in Tijuana and not the couple of months prior before I made the trip?
Second, in that same initial email and numerous after it I continually clarified / documented via email my expectation of the number of hair / graft transplants I expected within the procedure. We even measured the donor area to get a solid estimate of the donor hairs available. As I was comparing the amount of hair volume I could get from other clinics using that same procedure for a given dollar amount I wanted to ensure the most hair volume for my money. Post procedure I was given the hair transplants and the amount of grafts counted during the procedure. Neopel's own counts were even under the counts they had provided to me earlier and we had agreed to.
The bottom line from these two issues is that I paid more for less hair than originally agreed, and also have a second incision scar. This to me was an unacceptable result and I discussed with them how this could be made right, how they could honor their original, documented commitments to me.
I gave them the option of a monetary discount from the procedure price to make up for the shortcomings, or to provide a revision surgery (free of charge) to effectively join the donor strip scars into one and then use that hair to supplement the transplant hair graft counts. I even agreed to wait until October to make the decision on the revision surgery, but I wanted to ensure that I would be the one to make the decision on that surgery, not Neopel. My preference would be to get this corrected now while I already have the visible donor and transplant areas vs redoing the whole process 6 months from now, but was willing to make that concession.
Neopel responded that they do not provide monetary refunds, which left only the potential of a revision surgery. All the discussions this past month have attempted to reach that agreement with a very clear set of expectations to ensure no additional issues for this second procedure. Consistently the response from Neopel is simply to "wait" and review the success of the procedure in 6 months (no commitment from them to correct the issue). In 6 months I will still have 2 donor scars. In 6 months I will still have paid more per hair / graft than originally agreed to. What I was asking of Neopel is simply what I had originally agreed to with them when I provided payment. To this point they have been unresponsive to addressing those concerns.
As a result, and the inability of convincing Neopel to honor their commitments, I have decreased the review ratings accordingly.