Here s the story of my hair loss repair program with Shapiro medical group in Minnesota
[align=left]2397 Grafts - 5249 Hairs
I m going to go into detail to help all newbie s and UK patients thinking of going to America
Firstly I live in the UK in West Yorkshire so I booked my flights from Manchester as this was my nearest large airport. I booked my flights with klm airlines who are partners with north west airlines.
Who fly to America regularly from all UK airports.
The flight cost around £450 return (thanks Tubs)and was a one stop connection in Amsterdam before flying to MSP airport at Minneapolis. The flights themselves were very comfortable and even the connection stop at Amsterdam was very easy to do and straight forward. To be honest this was a major worry for me as id only ever flown to Paris, but trust me it was a piece of cake!! The flight to Amsterdam took 50mins then the flight to MSP took 9 and half hrs but this seemed to go pretty quick as there was a great selection of in flight entertainment with TV screens in the head rests.
When I arrived at MSP airport I was picked up by the hotel shuttle bus that JANNA the clinical operations manager at Shapiro Medical Group had very kindly arranged for me as she was aware just how nervous i was of flying and how inexperienced i was, as i'd only ever flown to france before. This was a huge weight off my mind as its terrifying being in a strange country without the added worry of finding your hotel. .
Janna had booked my hotel for me previously in the run up to the surgery as I m hopeless with anything like that which was very helpful .The hotel she recommended and booked was the country inn and suites at Bloomington and i was very impressed with her recomendation as the hotel was great
When the bus dropped me off at the hotel I simply couldn t believe it, the place was immaculate and the staff were warm and friendly and ever so helpful (which to be honest was a shock as UK hotels are generally poor). The room came equipped with flat screen TV with loads of channels and on demand movies, it had all the essential amenities e.g. hair dryers, kettle iron etc ,and there was even free wifi internet access in every room which proved cool as I brought my laptop.
There was also free breakfasts which believe me I took advantage of as they were out of this world lol..
Monday morning i got the shuttle bus from the hotel to take me to SMG and I don t mind admitting I was absolutely terrified after the previous transplants id had. I must of spent most of the night in the lavatory but Janna bless her kept reassuring me as soon as i arrived at smg which was very nice!!.
As soon as i arrived after meeting Janna i was relaxed as she was a wonderful warm caring person and knew just what to say to put me at ease straight away
She then introduced me to Dr Shapiro he greeted me with a handshake and welcomed me to his clinic, straight away all my fears disappeared because the guy was one of the most kind, warm hearted gentleman I ve ever had the pleasure to meet he really took onboard my hair loss concerns and was extremely passionate about helping me it was obvious right from the get go this guy was going to do his very best to improve my situation.
Firstly he checked out my donor hair, laxity and recipient site. He then took plenty off photos from all sides, he then uploaded these onto a pc screen so I could see my hair loss from all angles. After this he asked what I hated the most and what I hoped to achieve.
We discussed the options and procedure for around an hour. He was extremely thorough and answered all my questions and concerns and really took onboard what I was saying. To me it was blatantly obvious the man had my very best interests at heart, there was absolutely no pressure or rushing to get me into the chair he wanted to get the plan off attack just right before we started.
He then showed me what he thought would be the best plan off attack based on his knowledge and my desires by drawing diagrams on my head and going through the whole process step by step explaining every aspect of the imminent surgery. I was more than happy to go with his suggestions as they were exactly what i was hoping for and matched my goals completely . So we agreed on the approach and I was led into the procedure room where I was introduced to everyone.
This again was a pleasure as every member off his staff greeted me warmly I felt like a vip and I couldn t possibly have been more comfortable all the techs were very friendly and happy telling jokes and doing their up most to make me feel comfortable. All in all I have to say that Drs Ron and Paul Shapiro must have had the friendliest work force I ve eve come across my whole life.
I was then told to put on a medical gown ready for the procedure whilst doing this their consultant Matt Zupan came in and introduced himself to me and again what a nice guy he was, funny and quick witted and very likeable just like the other staff members he asked if I was comfortable and laughed at my forum name bullitnut .
I was placed in a chair rather like a dentists chair and was given my anesthetic using an extraordinary vibrating machine that was placed on my forehead to numb my scalp. This was a great feeling I never felt any pain whatsoever just the odd scratch like feeling now and again but this was normal and was nothing at all to worry about. I can honestly say hand on heart that the anesthetic was no where near as bad as that administered at a dentist, and im a wimp so if it hurt id be the first to complain lol.
I was then placed face down on the chair with my chin on a head rest so Dr Shapiro could remove my strip. This again was completely painless and to be honest I almost fell asleep as I was very comfortable lying there and had foolishly had little sleep the night before due to needless worry. After the strip was removed the techs starting the cutting while I was being sutured up.
Dr Shapiro then told me he had managed to get rid of most of my poor previous scar which was great and I almost started to cry soft sod I am lol. He then started to make the incisions for my new hair with Janna counting everyone out loud so we knew just how many there was. When about 90% of the incisions were made, they used a dye onto my recipient area for them to see the incisions better. They saved around 10% of the grafts to be used for fine tuning at the end. They were also taking estimates of how many grafts were to be expected every half hours or so.
Janna and the other techs then started to plant with Dr Shapiro checking all the time he was very thorough and hardly ever away whilst they were doing this. They planted in a rotation so that each tech didn t become too tired. It was obvious that they had all been there working together for a lot of years as they were like a well oiled machine working in tune with each other it was very impressive to see.
During the surgery I was given valium to help me relax and offered a choice of DVDs to watch on a flat screen TV in front of me, the whole experience was so relaxing I almost fell asleep on numerous occasions and had to fight to keep my eyes open at times lol.
I can honestly say though that through out the whole procedure I didn t feel one bit of pain, and I was told that if I did to tell them so they could administer more anesthetic.
The whole thing lasted from 8.00 am until around 5.00pm with a break in the middle for lunch which was a lovely pizza courtesy of NervousNelly,thank you!!.
I was also told that if I ever needed the rest room just to ask and I could go, which I did on a couple of occasions and both times I was escorted by this very caring lovely technician just to make sure I was ok due to the medication ,all in all the level of care shown throughout was simply exceptional. The guys who work at smg should be very proud of themselves as they do a superb job and really know how to make someone feel welcome and look after them.
Throughout the surgery I was offered drinks periodically which was a nice gesture as you can imagine sat in a chair that long you become restless and a nice drink every now and again alleviated that .
When most of the grafts were placed Dr Shapiro and Janna began to fine tune the hairline with the last lot of grafts to fine tune the work and they really took there time over this to ensure it was just right and as planned from the beginning.
After the surgery was finished Tom one off the techs a really cool guy went through all the post operative instructions and gave me a bag with pain killers and some gauze cloths, graftcyte spray and antibiotic cream he was very thorough with the instructions and made sure I understood properly which was good thanks Tom!!.
I was then given something to eat and drink before I said goodbye to everyone and thanked Dr Shapiro for all the work he had done , Janna then asked if I was happy with the results and im not ashamed to admit that even though I m a man off 34yrs old it brought tears to my eyes when I looked in the mirror.
After the surgery i went back to the hotel on the free shuttle bus which was very handy and the driver was great, the hotel was only minutes away from smg so the ride only took a short while.
I was told to return the day after surgery for a shampoo so they could instruct me properly on how to do it. The free bus picked me up again the following day and when i arrived Janna introduced me to one of the techs, who was also a hairdresser called Sue. She said she was going to trim my hair after Janna had washed it for me and she did a great job as it looked lots better when the sides were trimmed to match the new grafted hair.
Afterwards Dr Shapiro took some pictures and video footage of my results he asked me if I was happy and I said ecstatic.
The city itself was great to explore and was beautiful and worlds apart from anything we have here in the UK, I was mesmerised by all the tall buildings and how clean the place was, also the people there were so polite and well mannered it was like something from a dream I really took to the city and its definitely a place id visit again.
I realise this has been a long thread but I feel that after the poor surgeries ive had in the past I owe it to everyone out there who has supported me on the forums to tell them just how pleased and thankful I am. Right now I feel like a kid in a candy store and I would like to say a huge heartfelt thank you to Dr Shapiro for all his hard work and dedication in making my dreams come true.
You truly are the greatest man I ve ever met in my entire life you were born with a gift and im just so glad I got the pleasure of you using it on me, in my humble opinion based on all the research I did before you agreed to do the pro bono work and my own experience ive had with you, you are definitely the greatest hair transplant surgeon on the planet today and as well as that you have now become a good friend and id like to wish you all the best for the future.
I would also like to thank Janna who is just an incredible lady who has the patients best interest at heart 100% of the time, you went out of your way every day I was in Minnesota to help me and for that I am and always will be eternally grateful you re the best J
PS Janna will be posting my picks very shortly for you guys
best wishes to everyone who supported me and im sorry ive started a seperate thread but ive done it this way so bigmac can move it into the results section in a few weeks when everyones read it. off to bed now as extremely tired and looking forward to dreaming about using a comb for the first time in 8yrs lol :T:
I would also like to say a huge thankyou to PB and BIGMAC who started this whole project for me. Your the best guys i owe you big time lol~LV