Before I begin to share my journey with Alvi Armani, I would just like to point out that I am French Canadian and English is a second-language to me. Please excuse any obvious syntax mistakes I might make, it’s not my fault if you guys have everything backward.
This post is quite long, I wanted to share my journey and my thoughts before my hair transplant and after but if you just want to know about how my procedure went, please jump to the blue section below.
On June 13th 2012, I received a hair transplant for 3,483 grafts with Alvi Armani at their Beverly Hills clinic. The operation was managed by Dr. Baubac Hayatdavoudi and his staff. This post was written 6 days post-op, June 19th 2012.
The purpose behind my willingness to share my story with you, other than to tell about the amazing service I received from Alvi Armani, is to help other men who like myself seek to regain a hairline that is worthy of their own self-esteem.
Currently, I am 29 years old. I have been losing my hair since my very early 20s, not at an alarming pace but enough to be noticed. I always felt bad about my condition and it’s unfairness, I longed to have an hairline that would go with my face and personality. Just to mention, I have an older brother whose got enough hair on his head to share between the both of us but somehow whenever we went out together, people thought I was the older one. When I was about 25 years old I saw an ad for Alvi Armani in a newspaper, at the time I was not in a stable financial position that would allow me to undertake such operation but throughout the years, I managed to keep that little piece of newspaper telling myself that one day I would do it.
It is about until a year ago that I finally decided I had suffered enough and that it was time for a change. Like you: I browsed the forums looking for information about the procedure, the pain, the recovery, the results. I read the stories: the successful ones, the horrific ones, the ones I wish I had and those I hoped I wouldn’t. I consulted many offices for quotes, talked with different doctors, with patients on the forums telling me about their personal stories.
After gathering all that information, the plan started to take form. I kept it quiet for months until last Christmas when I told my family that on the same day next year, I will have hair again. I committed and I swore to myself that this was not going to be one of those things that fell apart, it was going to be a life changing event, it needed to be mentioned and supported by my family and friends. Rejection: “You are fine the way you are, you are not as bad as most people I am actually worth than you are, it is really expensive, we won’t recognize you afterwards… It is “normal/nature” for a man to have an hairline like that…” I could keep going on and on about all sort of comments I received from this subject and I am sure you have as well. It did not matter to me, I was not doing this for them, I am doing this for myself. Whose to say you have to keep the cards handed to you? If you can trade it for a better one, why shouldn’t you? We are lucky enough to live in a time where the technology for something as amazing as an hair transplant is possible and we should take advantage of it. Although to their defense, most comments came from ignorance to the procedure and it’s implications.
So long after pushing my case forward I finally made the decision to go with Alvi Armani in Beverly Hills, paid the deposit and waited. At that point I was half way done, the hardest part was over. I had committed, the date was set, it was coming. Then all the stories came back, specially the horrific one: What if I get cheated and they give me less graft than I paid for? What if the whole thing is a bust and paid for nothing? What if I pass out and wake minus one kidney? I did not really care so much about the scar because I was going for a FUE and not a FUSS but I had heard stories of guys getting bad transplants and left without even the possibility to shave their heads.
All kind of things went through my head as I waited for the last few days before the surgery. Then came the traveling day on June 12th and it went the same way as any day goes when “you must NOT miss the plane”. The service desk at the bus coach, who was suppose to take me to my airport 2 hours prior to my flight, told me the bus was going to be 2 hours late. I practically had to steal a friend’s car to drive 3 hours from Kingston to Toronto and got past customs just in time for the plane’s door to shut being me.
Excited, worried and terrified, I landed in Los Angeles and took a shuttle to Beverly Hills. Two and a half hours early for my appointment at Alvi Armani, I met Jeff who is the patient coordinator at the clinic and started on the paperwork. I had previously heard about what Alvi Armani make you sign so I was not surprised although at the time, I did not really understand why. We started talking shop: my procedure, my schedule, my doctor, my staff, “my” hair transplant.
It was a Tuesday and they were working on their first patient of the week, but since I was early I was allowed to met some of the staff and more especially Dr. Hayatdavoudi. As soon as we started to talk about my procedure, I felt at ease and confident. This was the team that was going to put my hair back where it belonged. Dr. Hayatdavoudi and his staff were simply fantastic to talk to, I knew that there were always chances that the operation might not take but I knew and felt that this staff would get me the best possible results I could ever have. We spoke for what felt like over an hour and I was not bored in the least, I listened to advice for the procedure, about the kind of hairline I wish to have, I told them about the stories I heard online and they reassured me that I would still have two kidneys when it was over. I was happy even with the day starting so badly, I was finally here it was happening but still not totally believing it.
During our conversation, I mentioned to Dr. Hayatdavoudi that I might consider coming back for a second surgery the following year for facial hair. You see, I have a region on both sides of my jaw line where I did not have facial hair. It made it very frustrating to even grow a two days of shadow because it would look patchy at best. Dr. Hayatdavoudi suggested me to do the procedure along with my hair transplant as a special consideration since I had to travel from so far in order to have this surgery. We agreed on a graft count along with a design and I just couldn’t believe it, both hair transplant I was considering were going to happen at once, saving myself more time and money later down the road.
Before leaving the clinic, Dr. Hayatdavoudi asked where I was stayed and I said “Hotel Del Flores”. I booked before reading reviews online but I was already expecting a room in bad shape. Dr. Hayatdavoudi told me that is where most of his clients slept over and suggested me to ask for the room on the “first floor, last room on the left”. Surprisingly enough the room was neat and clean, did not have a shared bathroom like most other rooms had. Another thing Dr. Hayatdavoudi did for me, honestly I stopped counting.
The evening was quiet, walked around Rodeo Drive to take some pictures. I had to at least find something to show that I really went to L.A. since I only stayed for 2 nights. Went to a local grocery store and bought some food for the evening and the next few days so that I wouldn’t starve at the hotel after surgery.
Finally, the morning came. Obviously woke up way too early and showed up at 6:45am for my 7:30am appointment. I stayed outside the building thinking about what my life would be like after I had the surgery done and also about the kind of hairline I really wanted.
When the time was right, I went up to the office to meet with Jeff. He gave me a robe to change into, which made me feel like Tom Cruise in “The Last Samurai” as I practiced my ninja moves. Afterwards I was brought in the operation room, meet the entire staff. I thought there were only like 2-3 of them but there they were: all 7 of them. And that is without counting Jeff and Dr. Hayatdavoudi. They made me choose my lunch that they would order for me later on and set up the IV.
Jacques who works directly under Dr. Hayatdavoudi was getting ready for my injections and harvesting the grafts. As for the injections they hurt a lot less than I expected, I have had 7 injections under a minute before and Jacques said he would beat. Which in fact he did (I believe he tripled it). I always tell myself that compared to the pain of hair loss, that was nothing. Hair loss is a pain that never goes away and is reminded every time you see someone’s eyes move to your forehead but anyway, injections aside, they were not that bad and soon after I did not feel a thing.
I have a little bit of white hair, so Jacques had to dye it brown so that it would match my current color. He shaved the back of my head to the appropriate length but left the top untouched, since we still had to agree on the hairline later on, having hair on top would help shaping my new hairline. He drew a grind on the back of my head in order to spread the harvest in every location at the same density rate so that I would not end up with one side heavily harvested compared to the other and I was really impressed with the professionalism.
The harvesting was pain free and really fast, at least for me. Jacques was pulling out the grafts and John were to gather them up for the staff to look them up under a microscope and determine the number of hair follicles per grafts in order to put them together. The 1-hair , 2-hair, 3-hair+ grafts together and make a count. The reason for that is to help with the implantation later on, they needed to know how many of each I have because they all go in proper locations to give you a natural looking hairline but we will talk more about that later.
Jacque complimented me on my skin and graft condition, they were apparently perfect for this kind of procedure. We started around 8:30am and we were done at 11:30am, Jacques mentioned that with most people, they are not done before 1pm which made me very happy and confident that my case had great potential for success.
Soon after, I was brought to the resting room where my food was delivered to me. I had a few minutes of silence to savor my chicken teriyaki with rice and salad until Dr.Hayatdavoudi came into the room and started to talk with me regarding the hairline. The time had come to make a decision about how to make my face look for the rest of my life (in theory). He mentioned to me that I have a very long face, very angular with a round nose so I would either get a rounder or sharper hairline, and it was my choice. After declining a few drawings on my forehead, he found one that I loved and accepted for the procedure. He went to get changed and get ready for his part. Shortly after I was brought back into the operation room and Dr. Hayatdavoudi himself gave me the injections, from the sound of them talking they were suppose to hear more than the ones on the back of the head but they really didn’t. In a matter of seconds I had my “steel helmet” and was ready to go. I could not feel a thing as he started making the incisions of my new hairline. He explained to me that graft with one-hair will populate the front hairline to give a natural look and that behind it, they would follow with grafts that has two and three hairs to give it more volume. To be honest, I had such a great time talking with him and Jacques (Fina was also there to keep me company and hold my hand at times when I needed to…) that this step went back just as fast as the harvesting.
By now all the incisions on the top of my head were made, only the one on the jaw remained. I have to be honest, the jaw line injections were the worst of the 3 locations. He did my right side first and half the left (leaving the rest of the injection for when it was numb, which I really appreciated). I remember that after numbing my right side, he gave me a breather and I said “Sorry doc for being such a wuss…” sad face and he replied that I was being stung in the face and there was nothing wuss about it. We both laughed and continued the operation, we had talked extensively about the jaw line and that he told me that jaw lines do not look perfect, the hair are random so that was the look he was going to give me. He counted my hair density in the region of my jaw line where I have the most hair in order to make sure that he would not over populate the implanting areas with more hair than it’s surroundings which made sense. I wouldn’t want to get a big hair patch on my face.
After all the incisions were made, he called in the team for the briefing on how they were going to implant the grafts. By then it was about 2-2:30pm I believe, for the next 3-4 hours I had 4-5 people at the same time implanting grafts into my skin. I had a lot of people who gave me eye wide looks when I told them the amount of money I paid for this operation, I had a few who told me they knew someone who knew someone who had it for 1/3 of the price I paid for. In retrospective to my personal surgery, knowing what I know now, I would not even trust a clinic who does not charge me the same amount as Alvi Armani does. All the care I received, all the personnel at hand, the consultations, the tools, the medications, the pre-op/post-op procedures and not to mention that you are paying doctors and professional technicians to do this work. I was on that chair for over 12 hours being the only thing that matters to everybody in the clinic and it felt nice to know that I could depend on them. I would tell everyone to be careful and aware when looking for pricing because you might find what you think is a deal but I personally know that I wouldn’t trust my head and my looks into anything less than the service I received from Alvi Armani.
During the implantation, I had 3 technicians on my head and one on each side for the jaw for a total of 5 plus Ken who was in the back supplying those who were implanting when new grafts and other necessary things. We had a great time talking, listening and singing to songs. I was much more interested into connecting with them than watching the movie they put on for me. These people were going to give me back something that I never thought possible to recover and I was so happy, I hope they know how grateful I am for the work they do.
Dr. Hayatdavoudi and Jacques came to check up on me very frequently and made sure everything was going accordingly. I had a count of 64% graft with 2-hair per graft or more which was great. They actually ran out of graft with one hair since they had to do the hairline and jaw line (wouldn’t want to have follicle there with more than 1 hair, would not look good) so they had to exchange some 1-hair for 2-hair grafts on top and put them on the jaw line instead which I thought was hilarious. I also recall one of the technician for me apologizing for going slowly because she was making sure she was not putting any white hair on my jaw line and I was very grateful for her dedication. I was very surprised that by present of thought at the idea of not putting white hair on my jaw line, that simply shows the level of professionalism and customer care that they have.
I had such a good time, I was told multiple time to shut up (politely, of course) because I just wouldn’t stop talking, I was so happy and excited to finally have the procedure done and I could tell my excitement was making the staff very happy, they were happy for me.
They were done the implanting by 630pm and I was just amazed that it took that long. The long hours they put in, doing very delicate work with a scope on their eyes all day. I know I would be hard pressed to do the work they do. I was taken by Clare to do a wash for the back of my head, the wound(s) stung quite a bit but eventually it soothed with the water and she put some cream to prevent infections along with bandages.
I was taken back to Dr. Hayatdavoudi’s office for post-op instructions for the night, until the next day where I had to come back in before my flight back home for another head wash and my care package for the weeks to come.
Dr. Hayatdavoudi was kind enough to give me a ride back to my hotel since it was on his way home. I really appreciated this time 1-on-1 with him and that we could talk openly, even though I have enormous respect for him and what he does. I found him to be very inspiring in the way he is since he also had the procedure done, not once but twice. He told me about the changes that he noticed in his patients overtime and about those benefits. And I personally cannot wait until those days are to come and that I can show him the results of his hard work.
Surprisingly I slept fairly well the first night with the medication, I already had a neck pillow from the airport and it surely helped me sleep upright. The hotel staff were always very accommodating and provided me with numerous pillows for me to use for posture. The next morning came, I made sure I had all my belonging and went to my appointment at 11am at the clinic for another wash with Clare. Once that was done, she gave me excellent advise about how to wash me head and to be careful about every little details for the next few days.