Before & After FUE Hair Transplant

Posted by Sarah Sweetz Akhza On 5:42 AM 0 comments
During the live patient viewing at ISHRS's national meeting, a lot of people wanted to know how long it's been as they examined my new hairline and the donor areas.

Without moving around my hair and using a scope, nobody was able to notice any donor scars since FUE (follicular unit extraction) doesn't involve a surgical slice of the scalp- it's individual follicles and done while you're wide awake and numb.

My friend Joe Shields had taken the photo on the left before I had the transplant (late summer 2009) and we tried to replicate it last month (about 14 months post surgery). There are some variations in the lighting and smile, but I carefully chose the closest shot... some of the "before pictures" were way worse than this one. But I resent when people manipulate before and afters so I'm trying to avoid that here.

The photo on the very bottom shows why I wore a hat and avoided profile shots. The soldiers were not exactly in full force up there...

They Touched My Scalp

Posted by Sarah Sweetz Akhza On 5:35 AM 0 comments

The hair transplant doctors gather annually at the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery meeting, and this year's event was in Boston in October (2010).

I gave a presentation with my physician (Dr. Alan Bauman) about social media for physicians, and then was his "model patient" during a live patient viewing. The doctors run their fingers through your hair, and one guy even brought a little eye scope to inspect the work. I'm sure I experienced weirder moments in 2010, but this one would certainly find a place in the top 10. Here are some photos courtesy of Dr. B.

I Love My Hair

Posted by Sarah Sweetz Akhza On 1:16 PM 0 comments
I love my hair. It's a Sesame Street muppet singing about her hair, and it's a viral hit that teaches self esteem and diversity. But what about the bald people? And I don't see any mullet representation. And this is the poison we're feeding out kids via television?

Post-Hair-Transplant Photo: 1 Year Later

Posted by Sarah Sweetz Akhza On 8:38 AM 0 comments

Here's a recent photo taken by my friend Joe Shields, who took the headshots on my book and consulting site. If you can get past the "weepy puppy" look, you'll see the hairline has visibly improved. The collection of photos from "Hair Insider" are here.

"Before & After" Photos Can Lie... Videos?

Posted by Sarah Sweetz Akhza On 4:54 PM 0 comments
As someone who marketed to men with male-pattern hairloss (Propecia/Merck), I saw many of the advertisements for lotions, potions, medications and transplants. I know the usual tricks of before and after shots. Just like the "before and after" diet photos, lighting can be an easy way to expose balding hair or hide it quite well. I hope this week to get Joe Shields, who took the photos for my Nalts Consulting page and my book, "Beyond Viral," to do a similar shoot to see how the past orbit around the Earth has changed me. For those of you unfamiliar with my experience, here's the video that documented my procedure.

Today I received an e-mail from someone considering Dr. Alan Bauman's FUE process, and I showed him a few videos I grabbed without much thought. These show some progress, and I have spent almost no time picking these few.

Here's a video I did immediately after the hair transplant... you'll see my hairline quite visibly when I play the marketer. Of course my role as the attorney involved shaving the head and producing a faux "comb over."

Now.... me yesterday:

I shot this about 9 months ago... in the interim period between the transplant and the 1-year milestone where much of the new hair is visible.

1) Check me out appearing on "iChannel," which shows my shaved head- this makes my hairline very visible
2) Here's me on HBOLab's "Hooking Up," where I had the benefit of makeup and lighting to hide the hairline.
Unfortunately most of my pre-transplant videos have me conveniently covering my head with a hat, or carefully cropping out the head (like this one).

What do you think?

I knew that I wore the hat, in part, to hide the hairline. But I'm now noticing the most significant change...

Before the hair transplant, my hat was like my wallet and keys. I didn't leave home without them. Now my hat is like my sunglasses... an optional accessory. This change hasn't been a conscious one, but has become obvious to me on reflection and by reviewing my many recent hatless videos.

In summary, a few key takeaways:
  1. The results, I think, speak for themselves... and these videos weren't selected carefully... I just grabbed a few random ones.
  2. It's quite nice not to need the hat, but wear it when I wish. I didn't realize I was that insecure... I told myself the hat was something I liked wearing, and part of my "brand."
  3. An FUE isn't an FUE. FUE stands for "follicular unit extraction," which requires no incision, meaning it's less painful and produces no scar (learn about it in this instructional video I shot with Dr. Bauman). It's still relatively new, so you'll want to know how many procedures your physician has done. Historically, FUE was reserved for "touch up" procedures, but both myself and Greg Benson (Mediocrefilms) are really happy with the mass amounts of hair Dr. Bauman transplanted in one session. In fact Benson had additional treatments, and it's really helped repair his Bosley transplant from years ago.
  4. Remember it takes time to see the results.
  5. My biggest concern now is not the newly transplanted hair, but the area behind them. I've been trying to keep up with the Propecia and Rogaine to avoid having a weak area behind the sturdy new "front line" Dr. B gave me.

Hair Growth: Almost One Year Post FUE Hair Transplant

Posted by Sarah Sweetz Akhza On 4:38 AM 0 comments

Here are some time-lapsed photos, including the most recent (bottom right) I took after a haircut last night (see video), and we're still not at the one-year anniversary of the hair transplant I documented on YouTube.

See the educational video about FUE (follicular unit extraction) called "5 Minute Hair Transplant" that I made with surgeonofnalts to show people how easy and fast the experience was. People still think transplants hurt or will produce baby-doll effects (retro).

@dralanbauman, you da man. I'm going to try to organize a series of photos by date. But you can see some progress based on these pre-surgery and recent photos. The frowns and smiles? Obviously spoofing the tricks often used in goofy pre/post photos. A common trick is changing the lighting, and I hope I have some photos that remove such factors.

The three people who have noticed the improvement the most: My mom, my client, and Joe the Hair Stylist (seen on "Bad Haircut Prank").

Why FUE is Like iPad Technology

Posted by Sarah Sweetz Akhza On 4:33 AM 0 comments
I read a comment on a blog from a jaded patient who claims FUEs have a lower "stick" rate than hair transplanted from a strip of hair (this guy must have a sad story because he occupies a lot of his time with negative comments on this blog, YouTube and forums).

I did expect a slightly lower success rate as one of the minor potential downsides of FUEs, and here's an article on the subject. Again- the traditional method of hair transplant is to remove a strip of "donor" hair via incision from the back of the head, then suture it together.

For a guy that doesn't like "surgery" or blood, FUE was far more attractive, and I was willing to accept the possibility that the hairs wouldn't stick as well.

For me, this was offset by a) the fact that I'm a good candidate for FUE (not everyone is), b) I like the variety of hairs in the new region (density/type) because it looks more realistic than the course ones from the back, c) I'm confident that we're advancing on FUE success rates.

What's important to realize is that most new technology advances aren't perfect from day one. Look at the first computer tablet or even the first iPhone. If you judge today's iPad or iPhone by those standards, you'll find great improvements.

I'd assume the same to be true with FUE (although I can't find data yet- it may or may not exist). As doctors get smarter about their extraction tools (Dr. Bauman used Neograft from me, which is quite different from using leeches or toothpicks to wedge the follicles out individually).

Unlike iPads, however, FUE-transplanted hair is not FUE-transplanted hair. There are many physician-specific variables, just like with traditional incision transplants... and I don't think there's a hair-transplant physician that has migrated entirely to FUE. It's also vital to have a good FUE extractor dude (whatever they're called) who knows which hairs, what circumference is ideal, and how to pluck and save 'em.

So it's worth asking your doctor about experience, and consider that "little things" mean a lot. The circumference around each follicle is maybe the biggest factor. Then there's how they're sucked, stored, etc.

The key point for me is this: accept that as an "early mover" in any new technology you're not going to get the benefits of the laggards. So you have to decide: do I want to wait until it's sorted itself out, or enjoy something new as soon as possible? It depends. For FUE, I thought Bauman had enough experience to comfort me. But at the same time, I'm not buying the first version of iPads. I'll wait until the second generation and let the kinks work themselves out.

7 Month Post Hair Transplant Photos

Posted by Sarah Sweetz Akhza On 8:23 AM 0 comments
Here's a photo I just took (March 21, 2010) after a haircut, so you can better see the hairline.

This is almost exactly 7 months after Dr. Bauman did his magic on me (should be a bit more than 50% of the benefit visible now, with 90% after a year).

It's hard to compare the location of the hairline in these photos, but you do see a density (different lighting conditions aside) that I didn't have before. Basically if I let my hair grow before I'd get these nasty patches and then blank spaces.

Much more even now. I may go hat free when it gets hot! :)

Compare to a few photos I took before the transplant. Whatya think?

Want White Teeth or Better Hairline?

Posted by Sarah Sweetz Akhza On 2:36 PM 0 comments
According to a recent survey (see press release by Dr. Bauman), guys want better hairlines second only to whiter teeth... and 20% of the 2000 plus adults said they wanted hair transplants.

Bauman's release observed that this number was deceptively low. Had it included some of other red "widely available and non-invasive hair loss treatment options like Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), finasteride, minoxidil and dutasteride, the percentages of interested men and women would have been even higher.”

Yo Youze be writing about men and hairloss and not consulting the King of Social Media for Hair Renewal?

Also according to RealSelf... 90% of celebrities get work done... but few confess. Yo, celebrities... how about giving normal people permission by talking about what you've had done? Is that too much to ask?

Most-Viewed Live Hair Transplant Ever

Posted by Sarah Sweetz Akhza On 6:41 PM 0 comments
Greg Benson, the follicularly challenged brains behind MediocreFilms, has selected Earth's best hair-transplant doctor to update his Bosley transplant (see video). With more than 13,000 live viewers via the Internet, this would indeed make hair-transplant history.

Dr. Alan Bauman, who you may know as SurgeonOfNalts, did the work... and now it's a race to the finish. Will Nalts (me), the YouTube personality who once pitched Propecia, have the best hairline of 2010? Or will Greg? In a great moment of irony, Benson's sporting the old Propecia mirrors. Ah, the days that we pharmaceutical firms could give out tissue boxes, pens and mirrors. Those were the days.

Benson made me proud when he, like perhaps every male transplant candidate, made the obligatory joke when one of Bauman's peeps warned him about the loud, wet and cold cleansing-wash machine. It's funny because it's predictable, like his inclination to yell "bye MiniMi" before he runs over midgets.

Nearly 3500 new follicles (which represent a few hairs each) may be a record for a minimally invasive (no surgical slice) transplant. Dr. B uses a NeoGraft to do follicular unit extraction (FUE). Cutting edge that's so cutting edge, it doesn't require a cutting edge. Here's a photo of Benson, with wife Kim Evey (producer of TheGuild and star of Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show).

Go, Greg. As YouTube funnyman Mark Day exposed, there are some side effects as I well know. Here's some footage I just found that someone took of my live Internet broadcast during treatment, and here's my summary video called "Hair Transplant Fun."

Also worth watching are the educational videos we both did. Here's my conversation with Bauman (which summarizes the steps in 5 minutes), and here's Benson/Bauman talking about the entire procedure. Benson said he slept like a baby after his transplant, which is not what he experienced years before with the traditional surgery from Bosley. In a sequel to Alan's interview, the duo speak about how even a year ago this 3K plus process wouldn't have been possible, and about the recovery phase. After 6 months, you don't notice much, but by 10-12 months you'll see 90%.
Benson and I spoke recently, and are just gaga over this experience. In my Merck/Propecia capacity, I had lots of insights on the best hair-transplant surgeons. When I asked people who they'd chose, Bauman's name came up constantly. We both know why.

Benson did it for his acting career, and I did it because 3 years working on a medication that treats hairloss will make you somewhat self conscious.

With all of this buzz, one can only hope that hair-transplants don't need to be secrets. Some of the film and television actors and actresses you love have had these procedures, but you wouldn't know it. Why?

  1. They don't talk about it because they feel it would hurt their image.

  2. The doctors can't reference their celebrity patients... unless they're weblebrities who chose to take themselves a bit less seriously.