Hi there guys,
I have been silently researching from this site for the better part of a year now and after having a HT with DR. Feller at the end of January I thought it only fair that I share my experience with those of you who were, and perhaps still are, in the same position as I was.
I first contacted Spex by email about a year ago and asked him some formative questions about the procedure and how much I could expect to pay – you know the usual couldn’t be bothered to do my own research kind of questions. (Thanks for your patience Spex). He very kindly offered to meet me (and remember at this time he was not employed by Dr. Feller and offered his services expecting nothing in return) but our schedules were such that it didn’t happen (more my schedule than his I might add). After our correspondence over email I decided that a HT was definitely for me but with a very young daughter, and another on the way, I knew that finances would come into play and it may be some time before I could afford the procedure. Spex recommended that I get in touch with his own GP, who having had personal experience of Proscar would only be too happy to complete a prescription for me and provide me with a 15 month supply for a fraction of the cost that it is advertised elsewhere. Being an idiot, I didn’t actually get in touch with his GP until October! You live and learn.
Anyway, in November I had finally raised the funds I thought would be required for a session with Dr. Feller. I got in touch with Spex again and having had a look at some pictures that I sent over to him he spoke to Dr. Feller who recommended that a 2500 – 3000 session was in order and he had provisionally booked me in for January 25th. Great. The deposit got paid for a 3500 session (I over estimated just in case) and my session was booked. Magic.
I left the hotel booking and flights until the last minute as I had heard about a great credit card deal from BMI where you get 20K free air miles just for signing up so I thought with such a big spend I may as well wait a little while. The card arrived, the hotels (The Andrew for the night before surgery and the Hilton Times Square for after) were booked and the flights were arranged (Aer Lingus had a great first class special offer on (to be fair this is about the same as BA business class but they call it first class) and although it meant flying to Dublin and then stopping briefly in Shannon I thought it was well worth that little bit of extra hassle for a comfy seat and all that comes with it). All that was left to do was leave.
The day before I left for NYC I got my good lady wife to buzz my hair down to about a #2. I did this for two reasons. One, I didn’t want to be stuck with the ‘monk’ look after the surgery and Two, I didn’t want my two girls to be shocked when Daddy came hope looking like an extra from Prison Break. It turned out to be a very wise decision for me in the longer run but each to their own. The flights went very well but on arrival at JFK I suddenly realised that I had left the address of the hotel at home. I remembered part of the address was Station Plaza Great Neck but that didn’t stop me being in the cab for quite some time going around in circles. To be fair to the cab driver NY is a big place and he did only charge me $50 in the end with around $90 on the meter. I would recommend The Andrew to anyone going to see DR. Feller. I had read a few bad reviews on the hotel on places like Trip Advisor etc but I found it to be clean and tidy with quite a modern feel to the decor. Not too bad at all really. I went for a PIZZA in a restaurant around the corner and was probably in bed for around 8:30 - 9pm.
The next day I was up at the crack of dawn. This was due in part to me still being on UK time and being awake since 2am. I set off from The Andrew and arrived at Dr. Fellers office a full 45 minutes early. Oops, a little too hasty on my part as I had to sit on my suitcase in the corridor until the good Dr himself arrived at 7:30. I found DR. Feller to be a very nice person who put me at ease straight away with his mannerism towards me as a person and as a patient. Dr. Feller’s staff all arrived as he was changing into his scrubs and again were all very polite and made me feel most welcome. Once Dr. Feller was changed I was invited into his office and we had a brief chat about my expectations and he had a good look at what was required. His advice was that the 3500 session that I had paid for would indeed give me good coverage in the front 3rd and would also allow him to dense pack the crown. Music to my ears. He took me down for some photographs, drew on the position of my new hairline and then it was down to business. Now before I go any further I have to say that I hate injections – absolutely hate them. For me, I would rather be poked several times in the eye or kicked several times in the groin – or both. I was assured that it wouldn’t hurt that much and would be over sooner rather than later and to be fair it didn’t and it wasn’t (it’s easier to say that now it’s over). I had a bit of a bad reaction to the anaesthetic - that would manifest itself throughout the day – which resulted in a bit of shaking and dizziness but Dr. Feller and his staff were all very patient. The Dr removed the strip from the back of my head in what I believe to be four sections. I remember remarking that on a few videos I had seen the DR’s had removed the strip in one long part. His reply was that he did it this way because had there been any complications when removing the strip like excessive blood loss or a bad reaction the anaesthetic then he would only have a small area to have to staple before attending to the problem. It is things like this that set a good Dr apart from a great Dr and the sheer common sense of it assured me I had made the right choice in Dr. Feller. Once the strip(s) had been removed they were sent next door to the rest of the team who began the painstaking task of dissecting each individual graft. While they were doing the Dr. Feller made all of the tiny slits in my head (after another course of injections that is). The level of concentration was amazing and he managed to make 3300 slits in one sitting and remarked that he had been a little conservative just to be sure. As soon as he had finished three members of his team got straight to work on my hairline, one on each side plus another one ‘irrigating’ which is a nice way of them saying ‘washing the blood off of your head so the other two people can see the slits’. I this is a saline solution that cleans the slits but I can’t be sure. After about an hour or two there was a 10 minute break for PIZZA and a drink and I got to see about a ¾ inch of hairline – quite amazing really. After lunch it was right back into it with a change of personnel doing a shift and so it went for the rest of the day with members of the team taking turns on a rotational basis.
By 3pm I was getting restless. The anaesthetic had worn off a couple of times and I had to have yet more injections. I had been sitting in the chair for getting on 6 hours now with only a 10 minute break and then next 2 ½ hours were the most uncomfortable I have ever had. Not due to the work on my head but due to the motionless sitting. My back had given in, my legs were aching and just about every limb was riddled with pins and needles. This for me was the worst bit about the whole surgery – yes, even worse than the injections. If you are tall and slim like me then I guess you will all have had the same problem (or will have). Sitting in a surgical chair (rather like a dentist’s chair) for that long is going to take its toll eventually. Not that I am moaning of course. This is just the downside to mega-session hair surgery. If I had wanted a comfortable surgery then I could have split it in two so the choice was entirely mine and I paid the price for it. At the end of the day, what are a few hours of discomfort when the benefits are so great? So, once all of the 3300 grafts had been placed Dr. Feller made another 500 or so slits (Yes 500 – 300 more than I came for - I am still waiting for my final graft count from Dr. Feller so I can’t be any more accurate than that I am afraid) and then the team got to work again. By 5:30 I was all done. My T-Shirt was cut off, I was bandaged up and was given the post-op briefing and instructions. After another round of photographs to show the ‘after’ results I was asked for my CC to pay for the extra 300 grafts that Dr. Feller had managed to extract ($750 if I remember rightly) and I was on my way with a NY Yankees baseball cap for my troubles (boy did that make me look like Terry Tourist?). The reason that I got the cap from Dr. Feller was that I had taken 5 or 6 hats with me but they were all wool. This proved me to be an idiot yet again as I had not thought about the wool sticking to my head. Someone called me a cab and I was on my merry way to the big city.
In the cab I got really sick. I think it must have been the after effects of the anaesthetic again to be honest. The hotel could not come quick enough – but believe it or not the cab driver couldn’t find it. Hilton Times Square – couldn’t find it! Typical! Eventually, after a couple of stops asking if anyone knew the way, I got to the hotel. The girl on reception was kind enough to give me a free upgrade to a suite when she saw how ill I looked, which I thought was very nice of her. The room was great but all I was interested in was the bathroom and then bed.
I had such plans for my Friday night in NYC. I was going to get out and about, get a nice meal and maybe even catch a Knicks game if I felt OK. How nieve was I? Duh! I spent the next 14 or so hours in bed drifting in and out of consciousness before I realised that all I had eaten in 36 hours was the slice of PIZZA that I had during the surgery. A quick call to room service sorted that problem out and then I was on my way to the airport for my trip home. This is where the business class flight really came in handy as I didn’t have to queue for check-in, got guided straight to the airport executive lounge and drowned myself in a couple of bottles of red (it was 3 hours before my flight, what are you going to do when its free?) The other advantage of the business class ticket was the separate security gate. I know a lot of people have mentioned on the boards that they were nervous about going through security but I got straight through and they didn’t even ask me to remove my cap (remember the NY Yankees cap that made me look like Terry Tourist?) The flight home was reasonably comfortable with the aid of a travel pillow to keep my head away from the seat but I did notice some blood on the pillow when I woke up. One of the grafts in my crown had come out and was stuck to the inside of the hat. Not to worry, 1 from 3800 isn’t a bad return is it? I just dabbed it down with water and it was fine from then on.
I went on a little mini break to Scotland when I got home to get away from it all and this is when my forehead and eyes swelled up quite badly. This was probably due again to me having to have additional anaesthetic after it wore off. I guess the liquid has to go somewhere and in my case it unfortunately went down my face and not the back of my head. Again, I am not moaning here it is just another downside to having a mega-session and each case is going to be unique as everyone is different and will react in different ways. I felt a bit sorry for my wife and children to be honest more than myself. Having to look at me looking like I had gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson as well as having a large wound on the back of my head can’t have been easy. The staples came out after 10 days and all I felt was the odd pinch. A nice hot shower to soften the skin worked a treat I think.
Anyway, I think I have waffled on enough here and you must all get the general gist of my story and experiences. It is now almost 4 weeks post surgery and most if not all of the grafted hair has fallen out. The scabs in the strip and the small ones in and around the grafts have all more or less gone and the redness is fading away gradually. From what I have read on the forums, this is where the real hard work starts. I am trying not to check the mirror every 5 minutes but it is proving to be a little difficult. I have shaved my hair right down to a #1 as I didn’t see the point of growing it at this stage. I can just wear a hat out in public which is not too much of a problem in the North East of England as it is so cold most of the time. I am able to work from home most of the time so that has been a bit of a blessing – caps and hats don’t tend to look good with suits.
I only have one slight concern with the results so far and that is that there was an area about the size of a UK 20p coin that was not filled (circled in one of the pics). I mentioned this to Dr. Feller and he assures me that this was because he ran out of grafts and he has densely packed the others in such a way that when it grows out I won’t be noticeable. I certainly hope so but after the magnificent job he has done with the rest of the grafts who am I to complain? This is the best HT surgeon in the world (IMHO) we are talking about here! I can always pop in for one of his lunchtime FUE sessions next time I am in NYC to get it filled in later. There is also the possibility that the section in the middle that was not touched may thin out in the future so I might need to go back for HT #2 anyway.
I have posted some pictures of before the surgery, during and after along with a few just after the staples were removed. I hope that my story has helped some of you in some way and has maybe entertained a few others. I am willing to accept all comments from you, good or bad, so let me know what you think.
Can I finally say a few final thanks to Dr. Feller and his team for making the process as easy as was possible and doing such a fantastic job, to Spex for all of the help he gave me in the early stages and to all of you reading now, without who I could well have gone to one of the UK clinics and be posting a very different story. Thank goodness for the Internet!