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FUE with Dr Lupanzula 26/10/21 - 2645 Grafts

B

bms0lsc

member
Hi All,

I recently had an FUE procedure with Dr Lupanzula on 26/10/21 and wanted to give back to the community by documenting the experience and my ongoing results over the next year.

Treatment Background

I'm a 39 year old male and have been losing my hair for approximately 15 years or so which has been in the form of hairline recession and also generalised thinning. I've tried all sorts of treatments to minimise my hairloss (and with the intention of regrowing some hair too). These include: oral finasteride, oral dutasteride, topical finasteride, topical minoxidil (up to 15%), Nizoral shampoo and weekly microneedling sessions - sometimes all concurrently!

I initially treated my hairloss with oral finasteride and I actually saw a halt to my recession, but over the years I wanted to see if I could see some regrowth and added in all of the other treatments over the years. I don't think there was much (if any) improvement with the switch from oral finasteride to dutasteride, but I kept up with it as I was of the understanding that it was better for hair loss in the long run anyway.

I've now been on continuous oral dutasteride for approximately 5 years and was doing weekly microneedling sessions along with topical finasteride/15% minoxidil for approximately 2 years. I stopped the weekly microneedling sessions and topical finasteride back in July 2021 in anticipation of my hair transplant because I hadn't noticed any improvement in my situation since I had started them and thought I could therefore dispense with some of the rigmarole of multiple treatments; however I did see more hairs on my brush from September/October onwards which suggested to me these treatments were at least doing a good job of helping to maintain what was there.

As a result, I'll be picking these treatments back up again as my post op recovery allows (1 month for topical fin; 2 months for microneedling); and I have also started oral minoxidil (5mg/day) in place of topical minoxidil (I'll see what results I get with the oral minoxidil and may swap back for topical minoxidil, if results aren't any better.

Getting a Hair Transplant

I've been thinking about a transplant for years and as a result have been browsing all of the popular forums on and off ever since. I had always put it off because I thought that I'd eventually start to see significant regrowth results with the other treatments, but they never materialised. And then I turned 39 back in April and with the big 4-0 fast approaching, I decided to bite the bullet and fill in the online consultation forms for some of the clinics and see what came back.

My main goal was to restore my hairline and temples and I ultimately went with Dr Lupanzula and booked a date way back in May. I booked for October as I wanted try and enjoy the summer and wait for when the weather got a bit colder and I had an excuse to hide under a hat while I recovered! Throughout the process, Scott the Patient Liaison was in touch by phone and email and has been very prompt in answering questions and allaying my anxieties - and there certainly has been a lot of those over the 5 months between booking and the actual operation!

Mainly, I was anxious about going ahead and what kind of outcome I would achieve. I had no doubts whatsoever about the quality of the surgeon, but I found it difficult to get to grips with what kind of hairline I would get. I certainly wanted to be a bit less conservative with the hairline design than is generally aimed for and I think we got there (pictures are attached!).

Travelling to Belgium

For anyone wondering about this aspect of the process, it's actually really easy! The main forms you'll need are the Passenger Locator Form (completed online) and your Covid Vaccination Certificate, which you can get from the NHS app. I also needed a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the surgery, which I got for £79 from a clinic in London and I had to send the result through to Medikemos once the result came back.

I headed out on the 15:04 Eurostar on Monday 25/10/21 and got to Brussels at 18:05. I got an Uber to the hotel from outside the station which was about 10 Euro and by 18:45, I was in the Hotel Catalonia, which is the hotel recommended by the clinic as it is only a 10-15 min walk away. The hotel cost 139.5 Euro for a 2 night stay, including late checkout of the second day.

Once I'd dropped off my stuff in my room, I went for a walk to make sure I knew where the clinic was and then stopped off at a supermarket to get some food for breakfast on the next day. The hotel does a breakfast buffet, but it doesn't open until 07:00, which was the time I needed to be at the clinic so I needed an alternative. I then had a pizza back at the hotel restaurant after not being confident enough in my French speaking skills to order anything at a restaurant down the street! To be fair, my experience was that most people spoke English to some extent, so you can get by even if you don't speak any French at all.

Day of the Surgery

It was a looong day! I had to be there for 07:00 and didn’t leave until about 18:00! I'll try and break down the what happened and give a rundown of how long each bit of the procedure lasted too. When I arrived, I got buzzed in and one of the team showed me to a room where I had a locker to put away all of my things and changed in to a set of surgical scrubs and non-slip socks. I also had the opportunity to pick my lunch (I chose a chicken baguette!).

After that, I was taken in to the operating theatre, given some pre-op medication and had my blood pressure taken. There was a local news station playing on the TV which I was trying to follow when Dr Lupanzula came in about 07:15 and said hello. He quickly got changed in to surgical scrubs and led me to his office where we went over my history and discussed my hairline and procedure (all of the pre-op pics attached were taken in the office at this point). I originally mentioned in the online consultation form that I wanted to restore my hairline and temples, but we also discussed whether placing grafts further back to account for the generalised thinning was necessary and you can see that some were placed back here but it was felt not to be the primary focus of the procedure.

We then went back in to the room where I had changed and Dr Lupanzula shaved my head and had a closer look at my scalp. We finally went back in to the theatre Dr Lupanzula took a blood sample for some necessary tests and after a few more checks, we got down to the procedure. I'd say it was about 08:00 by this point.

The Procedure

As many people mention, the numbing injections were rather painful, but not intolerable! Initially I was laying face down while the extractions took place and then I had to turn on to my right hand side and then my left so that I was oriented properly while Dr Lupanzula removed the grafts. Overall, I'd say this part of the day took about 3.5 to 4 hours and I definitely dozed off once or twice! The technicians were also in the theatre with us at one end and I could see them working on the microscopes when I was laying on my left.

Next, we moved to creating the recipient sites. Dr Lupanzula was keeping tabs on the total number by using a click-counter with his foot and I'd say this took about 1.5 hours.

We moved straight on to the implantation part of the procedure and at this point I got to watch a film while the technicians worked. The technicians were the same people that were working at the microscopes during the donor removal phase. There was one working on either side of my head and once or twice they substituted for their colleague. Dr Lupanzula periodically came in to check and see how I was doing and monitor the technicians' work. I'm pretty confident this part took about 4 hours as I got through all of Avengers: Endgame and a good chunk of Contact (a film starring Jodie Foster from 1997) before we finished. Once or twice, the technicians subbed in for each other. I did have the occasional urge to talk to them, but I thought it best to let them get on with it!

The procedure finished about 17:20 and Dr Lupanzula came back in to check the work and take some post-op pics in the theatre. I then went to get changed and met Dr Lupanzula in his office to go over the numbers and my post-op medication and care, including how to fit a rather fetching bandana! I was originally quoted 2,400 – 2,600 grafts when I filled out the online consultation form and this is what the breakdown of the grafts/hairs were on the day:



Total FU’s :
2645
D1Hairs
1 Hair​
322322
2 Hairs​
10652130
3 Hairs​
10763228
4 Hairs​
176704
5 Hairs​
630

Total FU’s
26456414


After that, I went in to see the admin team; this is the point where you would normally settle up your bill as you have to have paid 80% of the estimated total from the graft estimate you are given by this point, with the final 20% owed once the final graft count is in. However I had paid with the intention of having an unshaved procedure, but when I got there on the day Dr Lupanzula suggested we go with a shaved procedure and I was ultimately happy with that. As a result, I was actually owed a £721 refund and this was given back to me in about a week which was great, so all I had to do with the admin team was say thank you!

Once that was over, I then went in to the clinic kitchen and had my chicken baguette. As you can see, it was a long day and I was starving by this point! I finally left the building about 18:00 and walked back to the hotel.

Post-op and Heading Home

I’d paid for an extra night in the hotel so that I could go back the next morning for a post-op wash and for Dr Lupanzula to check everything looked okay. I arranged to come back about 11:00 and that all went smoothly. I then chilled out at the hotel until my late checkout at 18:00 and caught the 20:00 Eurostar back to London and was back at my flat for 22:30.

Scott has been really helpful in checking in to see how I’ve been and helping me to remove the scabs around the day 14 mark.

Going forward, I’ll try to upload pictures every month to document my progress. It’s coming up close to a month now actually so stay tuned!

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bullitnut

bullitnut

4 awesome repairs with SMG
Great detailed write up… The surgery looks exceptional, clean and very refined… Doctor Lupanzula is definitely one of the top doctors in the world…..you chose well.
 
Scott Medikemos

Scott Medikemos

Valued member
Really comprehensive, and thorough write-up which will undoubtedly educate people on the steps and timeframes involved throughout the long day ahead! The work looks impeccable and I really like the hairline design. Can't wait now for the upcoming update posts.
 
Bigmac

Bigmac

Administrator
Staff member
Hi Bms0lsc and welcome to the forum. Everything sounds like you had a great experience during surgery and the support offered by Scott. Those 2645 grafts should make a great difference to your appearance by recreating a new hairline and strengthening the mid bridge area. The extractions and placement look very nice. Having the late hotel stay, then catching the Eurostar and back home in a few hours was perfect for you.
You’re certainly on a vigorous hair loss regimen. Have any of the treatments caused any side effects?
Thanks for sharing such a detailed write up. It will help others know what to expect during surgery.
I’ll look forward to following your progress.
All the best.
Bm.
 
B

bms0lsc

member
Hi Bms0lsc and welcome to the forum. Everything sounds like you had a great experience during surgery and the support offered by Scott. Those 2645 grafts should make a great difference to your appearance by recreating a new hairline and strengthening the mid bridge area. The extractions and placement look very nice. Having the late hotel stay, then catching the Eurostar and back home in a few hours was perfect for you.
You’re certainly on a vigorous hair loss regimen. Have any of the treatments caused any side effects?
Thanks for sharing such a detailed write up. It will help others know what to expect during surgery.
I’ll look forward to following your progress.
All the best.
Bm.
Thanks Bigmac,

No historical side effects from any of the treatments I've been on, but I did try to reintroduce topical fin/minox this past week which made me a bit flakey, so I've stopped that and will try and restart in a few days. Also no adverse effects to report from the introduction of oral minoxidil that I've started.

(I don't intend to continue with topical minoxidil while taking oral minoxidil, but the topical fin I'm using has minoxidil in it and I don't want to throw it away just to get a fin-only solution!)
 
B

bms0lsc

member
Hi All,

Here are some month 1 (technically week 5) pic updates. I've done a few in different lighting conditions and I've shaved the donor area.


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