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My Personal Hair Comeback Journey

My Personal Hair Comeback Journey

https://youtu.be/wFZm0E3P1Cs?si=9bMuM41oJQB641TV

I get asked a lot about my hair. 

That isn’t really surprising considering that I’m a hair transplant surgeon famous for losing his hair. 

One of my personal missions is to educate people about hair loss and plastic surgery and – to be completely honest – there was a point not that long ago where I wondered whether people would want hair loss advice from a surgeon who had, well… none

I’ve been really open on the channel about my alopecia areata universalis, the autoimmune condition that causes hair follicles to ‘lose’ their immune privileges and become the targets of the same immune system meant to protect them. But what I haven’t always been as open about is how things were unfolding in my own life while my hair loss was happening. Today it’s time for me to share. 

How did I get my hair back? Read on to find out. 

 

A timeline of my hair loss 

‘It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything’ Fight Club

My first brush with alopecia areata was in 2008 during med school when I noticed patches of hair loss on my arms and legs. I decided not to take steroid shots to combat it, for the simple reason that it didn’t bother me. It wasn’t until a decade later, at the end of my facial plastic surgery fellowship, in late 2018 that I first noticed a hair loss on my head – a small missing patch on the left side.

  

My first brush with alopecia areata was relatively minor though it bothered me enough to seek treatment. 

That hair loss bothered me and weighed heavily on my mind. Here I was a hair transplant surgeon setting out on my own and I had a bald patch (albeit very small) on my head. This time I did take the steroids injections. The patch went away, and things went back to normal – for a while.  

On Dec 7th, 2019, I woke up, brushed my teeth, and noticed that the right side of my face felt odd – weaker. Things didn’t taste the same and it was difficult to close my mouth. My wife was the voice of reason and convinced me to change plans (which I hate to do) and go to emergency for a stroke assessment (as opposed to going for my haircut – like I said, I really hate changing plans). 

Lucky for me it wasn’t a stroke. What I had was bell’s palsy, a neurological disorder that causes paralysis or weakness on one side of the face. My bell’s palsy was treated and over the course of 4 weeks it improved, but this is a good spot to point out that it was my second brush with an autoimmune condition. 

There’s a reason I’m not smiling… You can still see evidence of my bell’s palsy in my clinic photos. I really hate changing plans.

 

Losing my hair

My hair loss was very sudden and, despite my brush with two autoimmune conditions, very unexpected. Up until age 34 I was a Norwood zero and I took my hair for granted. Where male pattern baldness was concerned, I’d won the genetic lottery. 

But, in January 2020, right after my bell’s palsy episode (and when Covid really kicked off), I noticed I was losing hair rapidly all over my body. To say I was concerned is an understatement. I tried everything – PRP injections, oral minoxidil, squaric acid (a kind of immunotherapy) – but nothing worked (you can see more about my hair loss story here). The timing couldn’t have been worse. I had just split off from my hair transplant mentor and was starting my own practice. I didn’t have a lot of before and after photos and there I was, a transplant surgeon, losing their hair. 

By the summer (June 2020) I decided to shave my remaining hair. It looked so thin it just wasn’t worth it to me to try and keep it, and I had other pressing concerns related to my condition. I had alopecia areata universalis – loss of all hair on my body – and another keratin structure was starting to be affected. My nails became brittle and developed pits, and that had consequences for my ability to perform surgery. Eyelashes and eyebrows were also a concern as those hair’s protect your eyes. 

This is when I went on immunotherapy (ie: allergy shots). It turns out I was allergic to a lot of things and I was hoping that by redirecting my immune system and giving it something else to attack (besides my hair) I could get my eyelashes and eyebrows back and hopefully fix my nails. The hair on my head was no longer my biggest priority. 

Inexpensive Prescription Hair Loss Medication Delivered To Your Door.

 

Getting my hair back

For a year I went in every week for immunotherapy. I also tried gluten-free and anti-inflammatory diets to see if they had an effect (I don’t think they did - I already ate a well balanced diet). I even started wearing glasses to cover up my missing eyebrows. One thing I did not do was pursue JAK inhibitor therapy. JAK inhibitors are used to treat autoimmune conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, but they can have rare but serious side effects (tuberculosis, pneumonia, and cardiac arrest). For me, the potential risks outweighed the benefits. 

A year in I noticed that my eyebrows, eyelashes, and other hair was growing back. It’s nowhere near what it was – only 10% of alopecia areata universalis patients see full hair recovery so I’m not expecting to get back my old hair – but I’m grateful and happy with the hair that has regrown. 

 

Variables

It’s tempting to say that immunotherapy is what did the trick, but I’d be wasting the opportunity to talk about mitigating factors and variables – the things outside your control that can profoundly affect hair growth. 

Around the time my hair started growing back was also when stress in my life shifted drastically for the better. 

At work, I’d made the decision to pull back on the kinds of surgeries I offered and focus solely on lip lifts and hair transplants. It was a huge decision for me, as I have advanced training in rhinoplasty, eyelid surgery, and facelift surgery but it helped decrease my work stress. So had growing my staff, which really helped give me a sense of calm through the day. 

My hair growth also coincided with less stress at home. My daughter (who is 4 now) had been sleeping better (which meant we were sleeping better) and my wife was in remission from cancer. At the same time I was diagnosed with alopecia areata universalis, my beautiful wife, Liz, was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML), completely out of the blue. Ironically, many people asked whether I had cancer because of my hair loss, and it was my wife who was going through chemotherapy. 

It really put what I was going through in perspective and gave me a new view on life. I had to re-evaluate the things that were important to me beyond my own hair. Taking care of my patients and family is important to me, as is educating people here and on YouTube and adding back to the community. I also really love growing my business. Those realizations helped put into perspective where hair was on the scale of importance for me. 

Will I ever know what exactly helped with my hair regrowth? Possibly, but more than anything I’m thankful how losing my hair led me to appreciate what I have around me. 

If you are dealing with hair loss and want to pursue medical therapy, know that there are affordable prescription options that work and are delivered discreetly to your door.

And if you are interested in a hair transplant: cityfacialplastics.com

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