Where else I looked

Throughout my follicular journey I researched almost every major hair transplant clinic to find a doctor who would offer me three things:

1. Lower and straighten out my hairline
2. Build out my temporal peaks
3. Do it at a competitive rate

Here’s what I found over two and half years:

Bosley, Washington, DC office:
January 6, 2012
Price: $10,000 for 800-1000 grafts/strip with 21% interest rates

My long and winding follicular journey started with Bosley and I have to say I wasn’t impressed.

At no point during my 15-minute consultation by a former Bosley patient did I ever speak with a physician and it didn’t help when I found Bosley Medical Violations.com when I researched the company.

One thing I did like, however, was the magnifying camera during my consultation that proved my frontal hairline was miniaturizing, thus identifying the problem. Otherwise I walked away feeling if I didn’t have surgery the next day at Bosley, I would be completely bald.

Bosley and other large hair transplant chains charge a lot of money per graft but give patients so little of them creating a situation where patients chase results in the form of numerous surgeries. Consultations are basically high pressure sales pitches that try to take advantage of people who are in a fragile emotional state and are willing to do anything to stop their hair loss.

Large hair transplant chains spend millions of dollars in advertising and to make up those ad dollars, their clinics have several surgeries a day with the same doctor and staff running from room to room.

Bosley may have a great business model, but it’s bad for the patient.

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Recognize this guy from those late-night Bosley commercials? This is Brandon Fillinger, a former senior hair counselor who did my consultation at Bosley in Washington, DC. Fillinger had an 1800-graft strip procedure at my age and told me that he takes Propecia once a day every day, Rogaine twice a day every day, and uses a laser comb. With all of those treatments AND a hair transplant his results make him look like he’s still going bald. 

Dr. Alan Bauman, Palm Beach, Fla.:
May 2012
$100 just for an application

I found out about Dr. Bauman’s practice through NBC’s Follicle Five special that aired in 2005 as well as Greg Benson’s video series about his FUE NeoGraft procedure that aired in 2010.

After talking with Dr. Bauman’s consultant who wanted me to deposit $100 just to fill out paperwork, I felt this practice was already too expensive. One thing I learned fast in the hair transplant industry is that the price of your procedure is not only based on the number of grafts but also the surgeon operating on you. With big names like Dr. Bauman, you’ll certainly get great work but you’ll pay a lot more money for the doctor’s brand name and reputation. 

psThis is Paul Silva who had a 1,900 graft FUT procedure with Dr. Alan Bauman in 2004 at age 38 and was featured on NBC’s Follicle Five special that aired in 2005. Silva’s surgery cost $10,000 and was paid by NBC. Silva later had a second surgery but footed the bill himself. For how many grafts that were moved, Silva is another person who could have benefitted from a full strip procedure with Dr. Huebner.

gbThis is Greg Benson before and 9 months post-op from his third hair transplant procedure, his second with Dr. Alan Bauman. Benson’s first hair transplant in 1999 moved 1600 grafts via FUT and he later had 3,378 grafts moved via FUE in 2009 and then had another FUE procedure in 2010. Looking at his before and after pictures, notice how thin his hair looks. For how many surgeries he had, he could have had much greater density through two full strip procedures.

Dr. Paul Cotterill, Toronto, Canada: 
May 2012

I found out about Dr. Paul Cotterill’s practice through his patient Mark who documented his experience via Mark’s Hair Blog.

Although Mark did an excellent job documenting his experience and had similar hair loss to me, I didn’t like the hairline Dr. Cotterill drew for him. One thing I found throughout my follicular journey is that there are some surgeons who will do temporal peak work and square off your hairline and there are those who will adamantly refuse to do it. Cotterill made it a point to say, “the hairline you had when you were 15 may be nice, but it won’t look natural as you get older.” This is probably because he lacks the skill to properly do it.

What really annoyed me with numerous practices I researched was how I was told that my desired hairline wouldn’t look natural. Why would you bother getting a hair transplant if your results will make you look like you’re still going bald? There is an abundance of men 40 and older who have virtually square hairlines and no recession, and you want to tell me they don’t look natural?

The fact that I would have to travel internationally and not get my desired hairline, I never seriously pursued this practice, but at least Mark did a fine job documenting what the whole experience would be like.

mark finalThis is Mark from Mark’s Hair Blog during his consultation and 9 months post-op who had a 1,900-graft FUT procedure through Dr. Paul Cotterill in 2008 when Mark was 35 years old. Dr. Cotterill didn’t do a bad job, but I felt that Mark could’ve had a better hairline drawn that would have addressed his temporal peaks. Mark later admitted that he started thinning in his crown and began taking Propecia. He hasn’t updated his blog in several years, so I’m not sure what his hair looks like now or if he ever had another procedure.

Dr. Michael Markou and John Satino, Laser Scalp Clinic and Hair Restoration Clearwater, FLClearwater, Fla.:

August 2012
$4200 for 2500 to 3000 hairs/strip, $1200 for PRP

Thankfully I got to speak with someone who would be operating on me, but Satino and Dr. Markou’s practice wouldn’t give me my desired hairline.

During my consult with Satino, he pulled out three different hairs from various spots on my scalp and under a dirty microscope, showed me how the hairs in my receding hairline were covered in DHT and less tear-drop shaped. Their practice’s claim to fame is the CO2 laser, but from what I hear, using a laser to implant the hair grafts cauterizes the recipient site which leads to lower graft-survival and longer healing times.

This is where I discovered platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy that uses your own blood to thicken balding areas of the scalp but unfortunately it wouldn’t bring down my hairline and the jury is still out on whether PRP therapy works well in thickening your existing hair.


rgfinal

This is Russell Gibson who has an auto-immune disorder called alopecia areata where the white blood cells attack the hair follicles, leaving bald patches all over the scalp. In 2009, he had platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy where the platelets in his red blood cells were injected into his scalp, similar to how stem cells work, and within three months began growing his hair back. Russell’s condition is much different from regular male pattern baldness so the jury is still out on whether PRP therapy can thicken your existing hair.  

Dr. Ken Williams, Irvine Institute of Medicine and Cosmetic Surgery, Irvine, Ca.:
January 2013
$12,600 for 1,800 grafts/FUE Neograft, $5400 for strip, PRP free

Dr. Ken Williams’ practice was the first practice I saw that offered the NeoGraft FUE procedure as well as the first where I had my consultation with the surgeon himself. Leery of a long, linear scar, I really liked what I saw from this practice until I saw how absurdly expensive the FUE method was.

This practice didn’t offer any financial assistance and the idea of flying cross country and paying out of pocket for lodging in addition to my surgery made this a non-starter.

Dr. Williams is also a well known surgeon and for the popular ones, you pay not just for the procedure but also for the name of who is doing the surgery. I saw a lot of wonderful things about Dr. Williams’ practice and there’s no doubt he would do a great job, but it was just way too expensive.

Dr. John Cole, Cole Hair Transplant Group Atlanta, Ga. :
April 2013
$12,200 to $14,400 for 1500 to 1800 grafts

Dr. Cole’s practice was recommended to me by Dr. Williams if I wanted to stay on the East Coast.

I liked the fact that this practice offers seasonal specials in price per graft and financial assistance, but the consultant straight up told me that that many patients have had to pay hidden fees that they were not told about when they signed up for assistance through MedStar.

Dr. Cole can certainly do some great work, but in the end it was too expensive.

Dr. Jerry E. Cooley, Carolina Dermatology, Charlotte, NC:
April 2013

$9,000 to $13,500 for 2000 to 3500 grafts, $1500 for PRP therapy

Like Dr. Cotterill’s practice, I found out about Dr. Cooley through his patient Hans Moore’s YouTube channel where he did an outstanding job documenting his surgery.

Overall, Dr. Cooley’s consultant Lollie Russo was very knowledgeable and persuaded me to take finasteride on a split schedule which I have followed since February 2014, but this practice was too expensive including out-of-pocket travel costs (although not as far to Dr. Williams).

Dr. Cooley would do a great job but I didn’t think it’d be worth $12,800 before travel costs. Once again, you’re paying for the name.

hm

This is Hans Moore who at 43 years old had a 1,000 graft FUT procedure through Dr. Jerry Cooley in 2011. Moore admitted that he didn’t get everything he wanted in one surgery as he had noticeable bald spots behind his frontal hairline from previous cosmetic surgeries. The hairline drawn on him is exactly what I wanted, but several surgeons like Dr. Paul Cotterill in Toronto, Canada, and Dr. Michael Markou in Clearwater, Fla., would say it doesn’t look natural. Why would you bother getting a hair transplant if your results will make you look like you’re still balding?

Dr. Steven H. Parker, Parker Medical Group, Bethesda, Md.
January 2013
$6,000 for 1,500 grafts via FUE NeoGraft

Up until I talked to Dr. Huebner’s patient adviser Josh Engoren in December 2013, I planned to have surgery with Dr. Parker via the NeoGraft in January 2014.

There were several things I liked such as the fact that I initially spoke with Dr. Parker and his lead technician Ron Kirk, it was super close to where I live in Washington, DC, and the NeoGraft would help me heal faster without leaving me a huge linear scar.

Throughout my research the results I liked the most came from practices such as Dr. Matthew Huebner and Dr.s Victor Hasson and Jerry Wong but I never found those types of results through the FUE. I kept comparing the results I liked the most from the strip method and thought that I could get the same results with the NeoGraft.

Unfortunately a relatively new hair transplant practice with a physician who has not been in the industry for very long and a low-yield procedure is not recipe for success, so I decided to keep looking.

lfng

This is a hairline drawn by Ron Kirk, the lead technician at Dr. Steven Parker’s practice in Bethesda, MD in July 2013. Kirk did a good job of straightening out my hairline but didn’t build out my temporal peaks. His justification for this was that it would look strange if the surrounding areas behind the peaks thin out. I wanted to have surgery at this practice in January 2014 but the more I learned about the FUE NeoGraft being a low-yield procedure, I decided to look elsewhere.  

Dr.s Victor Hasson and Jerry Wong, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
January 2014
$11,500 to $13,000 for 2500-3000 grafts

Hasson and Wong’s practice was one of the first I saw that focused on “dense-packing” of adding more follicular units to add density without creating a pluggy, doll’s head look.

I really liked the results from this practice, in particular this unidentified patient whose hair loss was a bit more severe than mine but his results are exactly what I am going for.

Unfortunately when you dense-pack and charge by the graft, it gets very expensive. Add in travel costs all the way out to Vancouver from Washington, DC, and this was a non-starter.

h&w

This unidentified patient from Hasson and Wong really jazzed me about this practice and I absolutely loved his results with 2,642 grafts via FUT. The hairline drawn on him straightens out his hairline and builds out his temporal peaks which is exactly what I wanted. Unfortunately when you have a practice that focuses on dense-packing and charges by the graft, the price becomes prohibitive.

Dr. Bennett Yang, Washington Medical Hair Clinic, Rockville, Md.:
April 2014

$6,900 for 2300 grafts

My last stop, I met with both patient adviser Patrick Reynolds and Dr. Yang during my consultation. I was happy to see that they would do my desired hairline, but at this point I had researched this whole topic ad nauseum and was ready to make a move.

I picked Dr. Matthew Huebner because I felt he could move the most amount of hair in one surgery and correctly do my temporal peaks. Not long after my first procedure with Dr. Huebner, he created his own practice called Natural Transplants.

yangfinal

This hairline was drawn by Dr. Bennet Yang in Rockville, Md. 

9 thoughts on “Where else I looked

  1. Maria

    It was likely a favorable decision to have gone with FUT given the extent of your recession, but your research about where to get the procedure done is surprisingly short-sighted (especially considering your background in journalism) as you only seem to have considered clinics in North America. You could have easily had the same quality procedure done in Turkey, where there are numerous professional clinics with extensive reviews that offer services at a fraction of the cost of what you paid in the U.S. You could have paid all at once, rather than making monthly payments with interest like you would a car. And for what? For the convenience of staying in your own country and the false notion that you are receiving the best treatment available. But that is just my perspective. Thanks for documenting your story

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    1. Lance Post author

      Judging by the tone of your comment it sounds like you’ve either had a procedure in Turkey or work for a clinic that does procedures in Turkey and that’s fine; I hope you and potential patients have and can get good results. But tell me how many total hairs — not grafts — would I get in one FUE procedure in Turkey?

      When I researched this procedure from 2012 to 2014 the best results I saw came from practices that focused on dense packing of hair follicles via the FUT/strip method and those practices included Dr.s Hasson and Wong in Vancouver, Canada and Dr.s Brett Bolton and Matthew Huebner from Great Hair Transplants in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. I don’t doubt that Turkey and other countries outside of North America have qualified surgeons but no other practice other than GHT could give me more total hair in one procedure, draw the hairline I wanted, leave me one single scar, and give me an affordable price that I did not have to pay interest on.

      If I had done a follicular unit extraction (FUE) procedure, it would have taken three of those surgeries to equal the total amount of hair I got in my first surgery with Dr. Huebner because he moved more than 6,210 total hairs (31.05 square centimeter long strip of tissue multiplied by 200 hairs per square centimeter). Most practices would cut 6,000 total hairs into some 4,000 grafts and in a best-case scenario you could get 1,800 grafts via FUE if you don’t have any transected follicles. Not to mention, the donor area becomes compromised with hundreds of polka dot scars that limit the amount of donor hair you have if you need another procedure.

      Yes, America’s health care system is a dilapidated mess, and that’s another discussion for another time, but why would I bother flying to another country if I won’t get anywhere close to the amount of hair I could get with Dr. Huebner? He has patients fly in from all over the world from China, Australia, the UK, Malta, Turkey, and Brazil to have surgery with him and a majority of the procedures he and Dr. Brett Bolton perform are corrective surgeries with patients who have previously had FUE procedures.

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  2. Andy

    Well done on your thorough research. Dr Huebner appears to be a genuine person, and importantly provides excellent results specific to the client’s needs. I am wondering though as to why I have not been able to find him on public forums and other non bias type discussion formats. In addition his name is not listed in any American or International Associations to show a type of license recognition. I am not doubting his quality but its raised a slight concern as to why he is not listed particularly when other names you have compared are actually found in most of these associations and forums. Your insight would be greatly appreciated.

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    1. Lance Post author

      Hey everyone,

      Unfortunately the hair transplant industry is heavily unregulated and what you would think would be a governing board that oversees every hair transplant surgeon is in reality a good ol’ boys club. Unlike every other medical field that has a set pathway to becoming a physician or specialist where someone earns an MD or DO, does a residency, and then passes several stages of board/licensure exams, to do hair transplant surgery you don’t need to do most of that. In Dr. Brett Bolton’s case he earned a DO but I don’t think he ever did a residency. He just learned how to do hair transplants as an apprentice from the late Dr. Constantine P. Chambers and then he started his own practice. This makes the industry a bit murky because if you get a bad result, there is usually little recourse for the patient so that’s why it is incredibly important to do as much research as you can into the surgeon who will operate on you.

      I don’t want to discourage anyone from doing this surgery, I just want to give you all the most accurate picture of what this industry is like. To help you all look out for your own best interests, I recommend asking the following questions to any hair transplant surgeon you’re looking into:

      1.) Can I please see your results?
      2.) Can I see a patient’s result who had similar hair loss to me?
      3.) Which method got this patient his result and how many procedures did he have?
      4.) Do you have a recent reference list of any patients who would be willing to speak or meet with me?

      And you can always ask about the surgeon’s medical and educational background.

      In Dr. Huebner’s case, he is a board-certified physician who spent about 9 years in emergency medicine and he learned how to do hair transplants as an apprentice under Dr. Bolton. The fact that he spent so much time working in emergency medicine made me extremely comfortable because I knew I’d be in good hands and as you all have seen from my blog and YouTube channel he does outstanding work. You all can always ask him why he hasn’t joined any of these associations and he’ll probably give you the same answer.

      Concerning the forum websites like the Hair Transplant Network, this goes back to the industry being a bit murky. That website is basically a giant marketing tool that surgeons pay monthly fees into to be featured so that they can generate business. Apparently the guy who created the Network isn’t even a surgeon and makes upward of a million dollars a year in advertising revenues. Dr. Bolton did a video about this where his patients could not log into the network and post about their experiences because his practice didn’t pay $12,000 to be featured on it.

      One person I highly recommend talking to is my former patient adviser Steve Cook who now works for Dr. Dan McGrath in Austin, TX. You can reach him at 305.416.8418 as well as steve@mcgrathmedical.com and he can speak more to the industry of hair transplants as well as what to look for in a surgeon.

      I hope this answers your questions and if you ever need to contact me shoot me an email or give me a call at 813.505.7502.

      All my best,
      -Lance

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  3. Pingback: Second procedure: 8 month update (243 days post-op) | My Follicular Journey

    1. Lance Post author

      Hi and thanks for your comment. Sorry, but I signed a non-disclosure agreement that prohibits me from saying how much money I paid for my surgeries. If you’d like some more information though on how to shop for an affordable hair transplant, send me an email at lance.robert.fuller@gmail.com and I can help you out.
      All my best,
      -Lance

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