Corey Haines
June 16, 2024

My hair transplant experience (before & after)

Unless you’re blessed with superior genetics, every guy at some in their life starts to see their hairline recede.

It creeps up on you. Slowly but surely, your forehead gets a little bit bigger.

One day you look in the mirror and inspect your hairline. “Was it always like this?” Pull up a picture from college and feel your jaw drop as you gaze at that handsome devil sporting a full, straight hairline that used to be you.

Then it’s the five stages of grief. Denial, anger, sadness, etc.

At this point, there’s a fork in the road. Do you accept your fate and let it all go? Or do you pony up some dinero and let modern technology do its thing?

I chose the latter route, ultimately going to a clinic in the cosmetic surgery capital of the world: Istanbul, Turkey. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.

All in, it cost me about $6,000. I had a flight credit that shaved off about $1,000. The surgery itself is about $3500, but I opted for a few add-ons like stem cells and exosomes to accelerate the recovery period and give my new hairline a higher chance to increase the retention rate of transplanted follicles. Included in the price is all ground transportation and hotel stay as well, which drastically cuts down the cost compared to other destination locations to get a transplant. From my research about doing it in the states, it would cost about $10-20k.

I kicked off my research in two places: Google & YouTube. Google was filled with search engine optimized articles to give you basic info about the surgery and cost. What I wanted was a case study — a real life, honest documentary commenting on everything from start to finish.

The most helpful video I found was Brett Maverick’s:

And because he had such a good experience with the clinic he worked with in Istanbul Turkey, I decided to book the exact same one:

Dr. Serkan Aygin

The booking process is a bit strange coming from an American perspective. All communication is handled over WhatsApp and when it came time to secure a reservation, there was no checkout or document to sign. Simply wire some money and save the date. A bit sketchy? Yes. But they’re a reputable clinic with tons of reviews so I didn’t feel too anxious about it.

Flying to Turkey is no joke. It’s a long flight from the west coast with a few connections. Once I arrived, I had to coordinate with my liaison via WhatsApp to find the person to book my ground transport to the hotel. I got passed from person to person with very little information about what’s happening or what the next step will be. It feels a bit like you’re being smuggled.

Once at the hotel, they were extremely kind and accommodating. Instanbul is beautiful, bustling, and massive. The top floor of the restaurant is a great restaurant with a big menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I spent the first full day wandering around the city, hanging out in Mosques, and having lunch with a local Muslim woman who invited me to the multicultural center she worked at.

The next day I had my consultation where they do basic prep tests, consult on the desired hairline, upsell you on a bunch of extras, and walk you through what to expect for the procedure.

Then it’s surgery day. Head shaved, pictures taken, Xanax swallowed.

The first 3 hours I was propped up in a medical bed laying on my stomach. An hour and a half is spent on each side of the head to extract the follicles from areas that are genetically far less likely to ever die. You’re numbed of course, so all you hear is a scraping sound. But it’s extremely uncomfortable on the rest of your body with the position they have you in. Then I took a break, ate a light meal, and they got back to work.

The next 3 hours I was laying on my back and the follicles were more or less stapled into my head to form the new hairline and thicken surrounding areas. Toward the end, the painkillers were wearing off a little. That, combined with 6 hours of boredom and low-grade stress, and I was getting antsy. I started to feel some pain, but nothing unbearable. Another guy who shared the same schedule as me that I befriended told me that he was in tears the whole time. I’m just glad that wasn’t my experience.

Then they bandage you up, give you a neck pillow and strict instructions, and send you back to the hotel. I had to sleep on my back with my head propped up to avoid contact with any transplant area. To my surprise, I was able to sleep pretty well. The next day I got the additional recovery treatments and did some additional tests to finish the procedure.

Flying back was embarrassing. Half the other people on the plane either had a bandaged head, nose, or chest, but it’s impossible not to feel self-conscious about it.

No exercise, no showering, no hats, no sun, and basically no contact with your head for 30 days. I did a lot of coding in that time to stave off the boredom of not being to able to go outside or do any sort of physical activity.

Once my head healed, most of the new hairs fell out and started to sprout up again. The skin around my new hairline was super red and sensitive for about 2 months. I wore a loose hat for a short amount of time any time I went out.

Then I waited. And waited. I was told I wouldn’t start to look normal again until about 6 months later, but I figured I would progressively look less and less bad as time went on. That was not the case. It looked red, thin, and obviously transplanted until about month 5. Then suddenly it took a turn and the hair thickened and the redness disappeared. This is when I got my first haircut post-surgery and I could finally hop on calls or go grocery shopping without worrying about looking weird.

Now, about 8 months later, it looks completely transformed. Supposedly it keeps thickening and normalizing until about 12-18 months, but it’s likely a less drastic change that would be hard to notice.

Here are some progress pics:

Right before surgery
1 week after surgery
2 weeks after surgery
3 weeks after surgery
1 month after surgery
2 months after surgery
4 months after surgery
5 months after surgery
8 months after surgery (stopped taking the forehead pics)

I’m still delicate with my hair. I take biotin and spray a few sprays to keep the follicles supplemented. And I try to avoid hats mostly (don’t want to suffocate the follicles).

Was it worth it? Absolutely. Scary? Definitely. Embarrassing? Yeah, a little bit.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t feel more confident and happy now.

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