Is the NeoGraft procedure painful? Is the recovery painful?
I'm going to talk as a patient for a moment, because, you know, I had a bald area on the back of my head for a number of years. I actually didn't notice it, but I've got twin girls that are 12, and they're both kind of daddy's girls, and I was playing with one of my daughters on the floor, and my other daughter I think was a little jealous, so she took my phone and took a snapshot and said, "Hey Daddy, here's your bald spot at the top of your head." So, every now and then she'd take a picture just to tease me, you know. So I hadn't noticed it before, but of course after she pointed it out to me, I kept noticing it.
I tell patients, I don't know why we have to have mirrors everywhere we go in life. Now we've got mirrors all the way around elevators, we've got mirrors in our bathrooms in directions that we don't necessarily need to see, and so I was noticing this spot, and the thing was, I was so impressed with what this technology was doing for our patients, and I was so impressed with the results they were getting, and certainly they loved it, for the most part. I thought, well look, you know what, here's the technology. And so my staff, whom I've all trained, actually worked on me, so I underwent NeoGraft myself about a year ago. And I had some oral Valium. I'm kind of a lightweight, I don't take medications of any kind. My staff said I was kind of a chatterbox during the procedure. So anyway, they transplanted me, and I'm telling you, for me, it was easier than going to the dentist and getting one of those cleanings done. I was back in the O.R. the next day. In fact, my wife had this seminar she wanted to go to that night. My wife's a dermatologist in practice. And so I had this little band that patients wear around their heads. And she said, "Let's go to this seminar," and I said, "Well, I just had this procedure done," and she said, "You're in San Diego! No one's going to care what you look like!" So I went to this thing, I had this little band around my head, and I was sitting there. I got a couple looks and that was it. But I took one Vicodin that night, and I was back in the O.R. operating the next day. So there was very minimal aftercare, and we go over the aftercare with the patient, but I mean, within a week, you could see that the hair had grown back in the donor area, you really couldn't notice it. And I'm just really delighted with the results. I mean, it looks very natural, it looks obviously like I've got more hair there, I don't think about it anymore.
So, you know, for me, it was interesting because it made me understand a little bit about what patients go through, especially men, when they lose their hair, and how it affects your confidence level, how you feel about yourself. Once my daughter was gracious enough to point out this 'flaw' in me, I kept focusing on it. But once I had this procedure done, I just forgot about it. And of course, I asked my daughter, I said, "How's the bald spot?", and she said, "Oh, it's gone, Dad, everything's fine, you look good." So what patients are saying to me constantly is, "I want to have more hair, but I don't want to have that strip technique." Unfortunately, there are a lot of these hair mills or hair clinics that do a lot of heavy marketing or advertising that lure people in and tell them, "Oh, you know what, we can do this strip technique, and it's going to look fine, don't worry about the scar," but you know what? As a plastic surgeon, that's what I do, is worry about scars. We're the wound experts. And I can tell you that when you have to take tissue out of the back of someone's head that's relatively young, where the skin is relatively elastic, and you have to close that over what I tell people is like a bowling ball – there's no give or take in the bone of your skull – and the likelihood of that scar to widen and stretch out and thin is high and unpredictable. So the patients who have had the strip technique done before are sort of our control group. They'll come in, they'll have NeoGraft done, and they'll say, "Wow, Doc, that was nothing like my last experience. During the other one, I was on pain medications for a week, I had sutures in, and for months I was having shooting pain in the back of my head," of course, because it's more invasive. With this, it's on a completely different level.