Hair Transplant at 37 for Receded Hairline and Density

I started slowly losing hair after 18 and by 28 I...

I started slowly losing hair after 18 and by 28 I could see my scalp showing through my once rockstar hair. I started taking Propecia, which halted most of the hairline recession and my density improved. Still I was unhappy with my hair density, and very unhappy with my "new" hairline, especially when I saw side photographs which I could not have seen in the mirror. I don't mind aging gracefully, but it just wasn't me, it really looked wrong, and really bad.

I researched several top specialists throughout California and decided to go with Dr. Wasserbauer for the following reasons:
-She was within an hour's drive, and wouldn't require multiple trips to SoCal
-Her portfolio of results was very good
-She was very conservative and concerned about today's hair as well as decades from now
-She was not so conservative that she would not alter my hairline, and thus, keep me from achieving my primary goal
-She was well reviewed by patients and peers, and well-qualified
-Her pricing was not low, but comparable to other top doctors
-Although it was hard to reach her initially (more later), when I met her in person, she was warm, genuine, and understanding of how my case was so distressing to me. She was confident, but not arrogant (as other doctors I spoke with), and answered all my questions.

Without going into every single detail, my experience was as follows:
I arrived ready for my procedure, and felt surprisingly calm and excited to finally have it done. She and all of her staff were so wonderful to me, with 80's hair band music playing, and a quirky sense of humor which didn't bother me at all, we had a few laughs to start. The staff and Dr. Wasserbauer made sure I was very comfortable, blanket and all, and with three selected movies, antibiotics and a Valium in hand we began. There were a lot of injections throughout the top, front, and back of the scalp, and it felt as though I were wearing a helmet onto which they were working. They were all skilled and gentle injectors, and it was really painless except for a few pricks. I felt no pain or discomfort during the incision, stitching, or creation of thousands of tiny cuts for the hair transplants, all done by Dr. Wasserbauer. This was about 3 hours. We then took a lunch break, which they provided, and then the technicians got to work placing all of the grafts, which was a tedious process for them, and eventually I too, got a little antsy at the length of the procedure, but they gave me breaks to stretch, restroom, and back to work they went. I was so impressed at their precision and patience, as well as the thoughtfulness of Dr. Wasserbauer's placement of the graft locations. To my surprise, there were enough grafts to alter the hairline, but about 75% of the grafts (my guess) were used to add density to my thinning areas, ensuring a future full of hair. The total day took about 8 hours as expected, and I was bandaged up and sent home to rest.

Recovery:
I was pretty well read on the subject before starting, but the post-op instructions gave great clarity, the first 3 days required the utmost care to secure the survival of the grafts.
-I had a mild headache, and occasionally my donor area or graft areas would be tender and start to get very sore by the end of each day, but the vicodin worked just fine.
-I had to sleep 3 nights at a 45 degree angle, which was a challenge.
-I had to wash the grafts with a sponge 3x daily, and spray water on them every couple of hours, which actually made the healing better.
-I did get swelling, which was strange, first I had swelling and a "dent" in my head, then a huge forehead, then the swelling dropped between my eyes and eyebrows and I looked like an avatar for a day or two (see photo) The swelling was resolved enough for me to go outside publicly with a hat on day 4 post op. No pain, just a very mild headache.
-On Day 4 I started to wash regularly and rub off the crusty skin tissue stuck to each graft, which looked like lots of lice, but was almost completely gone by day 7 post op. At that point I could go out in public without a hat, although the skin in the front was pinkish and some short remaining hairs were growing in.
-It's now day 10 and I still have a tender scalp, and most of the numb sensation from temporary nerve damage is gone, except just above my donor scarline. I've checked the scar a few times, I don't scar badly, so I anticipate the resultant scar will be super fine, if not invisible.

Conclusion
Due to donor density, and Dr. Wasserbauer's kindness, I received more grafts than I was initially recommended, of which I was thrilled! It is too early to recommend based on results, but since all has been as expected, results should be ideal as well. I cannot say enough about the kindness, patience, skill, gentle touch and social skills of all of Dr. Wasserbauer's staff: Ann, Monique, Roxanna, Naomi and Katy, all were so great to work with.

My one and only concern in the whole process was that Dr. Wasserbauer is very unresponsive to email and phone. I almost didn't pursue her office because after my initial consult with her "Advisor" I waited 3 weeks without email response, I called her staff, then followed up with her, and instead of answering my questions I had bulleted, she replied that her staff would contact me to make an appointment, which then would not be for 2-3 months. This, I had to call for as well, and the doctor would not see or speak to me for 2-3 months unless I scheduled surgery in January and made a $1000 deposit. There were other emails she did not reply to, and when she gave her personal number to call if there were problems or questions (I called regarding swelling), she did not answer or call back at all. I understand I'm not the first person to experience this, but to me it is unacceptable. If a doctor cannot or will not reply to patients, he or she must designate a staff to reply or be "on call." This never happened unless I called up the staff myself for help. My takeaway is that she is a great surgeon, excellent when you have her in person, but otherwise unavailable; her staff do the rest. If there was an emergency, I'd dial 911 or your general practitioner. My GP responds to all my emails within 24 hours. My surgery experience was otherwise excellent and I hope it's the only one I'll ever need.

Will post photos at 6 months or 1 year when actual results can be seen.

New Photos from FUT Surgery

New Photos

6 weeks post op updates

6 weeks post-op and the pink-rashy appearance is almost completely gone at the hairline. The first 4 weeks I experienced lots of hair loss after the procedure, including native hair- shock loss. All the areas of implant now look thinner than when I started, however are expected to come back. At 6 weeks hair shedding in the shower is back to normal/minimal.

I have experienced a great deal of itching, I've switched to gentle shampoo and shampooing only once every 2-3 days (otherwise rinse with conditioner or water only, and lotion or hydrocortisone. I was experiencing large, tender pimples/ingrown hairs for the past 2 weeks- about 3-5 new ones per day, but they seem to have subsided with a little use of salicylic acid lotion, and I haven't had any more since. The donor site does create a bit of a line in my hair when cut short, but the scar itself is not visible, just a shadow line from the shaved hair section.

Basically I've experienced all the expected side effects to some degree, but they seem to be managed for the moment; now I'm waiting to see actual hair growth likely after the 4 to 6 month timeline.

3 Months Post op

Three months post op and any red/rashy appearance along the hairline is all but gone- not noticeable. I shed a lot of hair a few months before the procedure and it seems that there is new growth in areas of pre existing hair. Lots of wispy frizzy short hairs, but no noticeable new growth at the hairline itself (should start at 6 months post op). I have noticed flaking/scabing throughout the transplanted area, as well as the donor scar, small chunks of dead, dry skin, some of which have hairs attached, the hairs appear to be very thick, dark, short and without growth. A mild 2% salicylic acid lotion on the scalp from time to time seems to help keep this clean and loosen any grime when I wash. Due to dry itchy scalp I've reduced shampooing to 1-2x per week and daily washing with just a lightweight conditioner. It seems to work just fine, much less itchy, and not greasy.

The worst part is my hair has never been thinner! Of course the transplanted hairs fell out, but I shed so much hair the first 2 months (shock loss) that now the hair is visibly thin at the hairline/top and temples. I don't know if others notice, but I can now see my scalp through my hair not just a few centimeters back, but probably 2 inches back. Everywhere there was transplanting around native hair, a lot of native hair was lost. For all I have read, this is the worst month and it will start to get better from here, I sure hope so, because I expect more, not less hair than when I started. I hope it all grows back... and more!

5 months post-op, it's getting better

At 5 months, the shedding is minimal, the itching is gone, only a few very small tender spots along the donor site. New hair (and old hair) is starting to grow in, thinning areas from shedding show less skin, and the hairline is ever so slowly starting to grow, a few hairs here and there. I can't wait to see the final results after 12-18 months post op. I'd like to see a lower and more "squared" masculine hairline.

4 Months Looking very thin

At 4 months, healing is looking well, however transplanted areas with additional shedding reveal even thinner spots than before compared to existing native hair.
Walnut Creek Hair Restoration Surgeon

I researched several top specialists throughout California and decided to go with Dr. Wasserbauer for the following reasons: -She was within an hour's drive, and wouldn't require multiple trips to SoCal -Her portfolio of results was very good -She was very conservative and concerned about today's hair as well as decades from now -She was not so conservative that she would not alter my hairline, and thus, keep me from achieving my primary goal -She was well reviewed by patients and peers, and well-qualified -Her pricing was not low, but comparable to other top doctors -Although it was hard to reach her initially (more later), when I met her in person, she was warm, genuine, and understanding of how my case was so distressing to me. She was confident, but not arrogant (as other doctors I spoke with), and answered all my questions when in person. My one and only concern in the whole process was that Dr. Wasserbauer was almost completely unresponsive to email and phone. I almost didn't pursue her for surgery because I waited 3 weeks without email response, I called her staff, then followed up with her, and instead of answering my questions I had bulleted, she replied that her staff would contact me to make an appointment. This, I had to call for as well, and the doctor would not see or discuss with me for 2-3 months unless I scheduled surgery in January and made a $1000 deposit. This too, was unexpected. There were other emails she did not reply to, and when she gave her personal number in case of problems or questions (I called regarding the swelling), she did not return my call. I found this strange; perhaps someone should be "on call" if she is not available. My takeaway is that she is a great surgeon, excellent when you have her in person; her staff do the rest. Dr. Wasserbauer did, however, call about 3 weeks after surgery and was very helpful. My surgery experience was otherwise wonderful and I hope it's the only one I'll ever need. I found that both she and the staff were all very good to me, and even transplanted more grafts than I had paid for. If the results are as good as the experience, I will definitely recommend her, with the expectation to call the staff with all questions and plan on communication in person with the doctor.

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
1 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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