I am a 52 year old veteran of one scalp reduction and 8 strip sessions, starting in the early 90's. My first procedure was 1993 or 1994. At that time of course the Internet wasn't available and even though I did my homework as well as you could in those days I ended up a mess. I won't name names, since I believe all the doctors I went to have retired and it was more the poor technology available at the time than the incompetence of the doctors. Anyway, I had five sessions in fairly quick order, probably over a 3 year period and ended up with about 1500 mini/micrografts. Anywhere from 1 to 15 or 20 hairs. They were pitted, compressed, inserted at improper angles, randomly arranged and I also had a bunch of 2-5 hair grfts near my hairline and a lot of nice scars on the back of my head. But I still had a lot of hair on top and in the back in those days that pretty much covered the whole mess up.
Cut to the late 90's and and I've lost a lot more hair. The grafts on top are now plainly visible and I realize I need more work. I go for three more mega strip sessions of 1000 grafts each, the last of which leaves me with a huge one inch scar all along the back of my head because by this time my scalp was so tight that if I raised my eyebrows in front I could feel the back of my scalp rise at the same time (still can). Anyway, my hair still looked like hell, the hairline sucked and of course there was the scar. But, with my scalp as tight as it was, I knew I could never have any more strips done and was pretty much resigned to living with what I had.
That is when I found out about Dr Woods and Campbell. I went to them for 3 sessions totaling 1250 FUEs and they did an incredible job of filling in a lot of the scar (the growth was phenomenal) and put some grafts on top to soften my pluggy look. Unfortunately, I could not afford another trip to AUZ and even if I could, I lacked enough donor hair to in-fill enough to camouflage all the big grafts from the early 90s. I felt my only hope was to remove and redistribute the large grafts and then use the rest of my donor hair to soften up the look on top.
I flew to NYC to consult with Dr Bernstein and he told me that he would not touch me because there were "too many" mini/micros and that I should "wait for cloning" then have them removed and use cloned hair to finish the job. Waiting for cloning just didn't sound like a lot of fun.
It was about this time (Feb 2002) that I started to see posts about Dr. Cole. I emailed him about my situation and he too told me that while he was working on CIT, he just "wasn't ready" for someone like me who had so little margin for error. He told me at the time that "Woods is still the master".
Well, I kept in touch with Dr Cole, and earlier this year I flew to Atlanta and had a consult with him. He suggested removing some of the larger grafts and the ones that were very obvious in my hairline and then adding some new FUs using his CIT method. We decided on removing and redistributing about 150 grafts and supplementing these with 300 CIT.
I went for my procedure September 19th. Dr Cole removed the largest plugs on top using a punch. These he sutured. In the hairline he removed everything that was over 1 hair using the CIT procedure to extract the grafts. The holes where he removed th 2, 3 and 4 hair grafts were very small. He closed this area using one long suture from side to side that ran across the front of my hairline. He then VERY carefully shaved just enough area on the sides of my head to remove the CITs that he used to fill in my hairline. By the end of the day (9:30 PM) we had implanted 562 grafts in my hairline, a combination of new CITs and redistributed older grafts that his technician Nelson had dissected under a microscope. The cosmetic improvement was immediate and remarkable! I am planning another session to remove more grafts and do more CIT work in either November or January.
The purpose of this post is not to start a debate on the merits of strip versus CIT. Quite frankly, if I had a virgin scalp and was going for my first transplant, I might very well do a large strip session first and then fill in any scarring with CIT. My reason for this post is to reassure and inform people out there who are in the same position as I am that there is now a way out of the abyss. Dr. Cole can fix people like us that have reached the point where we CANNOT have strip surgeries because of our scalp tightness. I cannot say enough about the professionalism and compassion that Dr Cole and his staff displayed. In fact, I am almost afraid to say too much, because I have seen so many instances on the various transplant forums where the minute someone praises the work he received he is accused of being a shill or employee of the doctor. I am neither, just a happy customer. Thank you Nelson, Patrick, Thomas, Chris and Leith for your help. And thank you Dr Cole for putting the time and money into perfecting your repair procedure to where you can help people like myself.
One other thing, although I had only prepaid for a total of 450 grafts, there was no extra charge for the additional 112 and Dr Cole also implanted two grafts on the inside of my wrist to test a hair multiplication procedure that he is hoping will be successful in eventually harvesting multiple hairs from a single follicle. He also took pictures of the growth in my scar tissue (the work that Dr Woods did) because he was so impressed with the result. I will send him a before picture and hopefully we can get these photos posted to show that scar tissue really will grow good hair.
I hope this will give some hope to those of you out there who feel helpless. If I can answer any questions please feel free to ask or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck to everyone and special thanks to DJ for steering me towards Dr Cole in the first place. I owe him a huge debt of gratitude.