"The experience couldn’t have have been better"
I met Dr Ball at his clinic in Portsmouth for a consultation. He spent over two hours with me going through every aspect of potential surgery. I say potential, as he’s a surgeon, not salesman and encourages you to go away and take your time before committing to a HTP. He is wholly patient-focused and clearly only interested in what is right for you, not what will get him a 'sale'.
The word ‘passionate’ is overused, but Dr Ball clearly loves his job. Ask him about it and he’ll talk about it all day. If you've taken the time to learn about the subject yourself, it feels like talking to an extremely knowledgeable friend.
I had my pre-op consultation the day prior to surgery. Dr Ball again spent over two hours with me finalising every last detail. My head was shaved for FUE and the hair design finalised.
At 07:30 I arrived for my surgery. I had blood-pressure & weight measured.
Dr Ball operates upon one patient per day. You are the entire focus for the day, no matter how long it takes. It’s quality, not quantity. This is essential.
I met the team, including Karen, who is the clinic manager and focuses on aftercare (she even called me on a Saturday the day after).
I entered the theatre. The clinic and theatre are immaculately prepared and clean.
Everything is fully explained throughout and nothing is done to you without you understanding what is going to happen.
I started off by having the numbing injections (local anaesthetic). These can be quite keen, but the vibration tool used to distract the nerves minimises the pain. One of the questions I am asked is whether the operation hurts. Apart from these injections, you feel nothing. The injections are nothing to worry about.
Dr Ball began by designing the hairline by making the incisions where the donor hair would later be placed. This hair line design is the artistic side and one of things that separates average from great surgeons. In lots of other clinics the surgeon does not perform this vital stage. You want your surgeon doing the design.
I sat and watched Netflix throughout this was being done and then had some early lunch.
We moved onto extracting the donor grafts. This was 3 hour plus process as we were aiming for over 2000 grafts to be extracted. FUE takes time to do well. Fortunately for me, my grafts came out quite easily and we were able to achieve the upper target of 2500 FU. Dr Ball extracts every graft himself.
Once removed they are collected by a technician who then hands them to three other technicians who prepare the grafts for their placement. This includes separating the grafts under microscopes into 1s, 2s and 3s (hairs per follicle). Low-quality, cheap clinics don’t correctly separate 1s which are essential to be placed in the front hairline for a natural look (as opposed to looking like the tooth of comb which you get at cheap clinics). The Maitland team even separate 1s into different categories to place for even more naturalness.
The team at the Maitland Clinic work like clockwork. Seamlessly transitioning from one phase to the next. They are consummate professionals. They are all personable, engaging and have great chemistry together. When appropriate, they are also fun and humorous (like when having a collective debate as to which radio station to listen to!). This all adds to making a long day relaxing and pleasurable.
After the extractions, I had another short break before Dr Ball made some further recipient incisions due to the higher graft count. The technicians then spent over 4 hours placing all the grafts into Dr Ball’s designs. Again, I was able to watch TV / listen to the radio whilst this process was in progress.
It was a long day but I’d challenge anyone to look at any of the team and try and guess whether it was the 1st or 12th hour. A reflection of their focus and expertise.
Once the grafts we placed I went through the post-care procedures with Karen and was given a bag containing everything would use in the following two weeks (neck support to sleep, ATP spray, a written plan and much more).
The surgery looks immaculate and I’ve not needed to take any pain killers even on the first day after the surgery. I am months away from seeing the full results, but am confident that any variables in the control of the clinic were completed to the highest standard.
There’s more I could write, but I’ll simply conclude by saying I’m a very critically minded person and I cannot possibly think how it could have gone better.
In summary; if you’re considering a HTP, meet with the team at the Maitland Clinic.
Don't be tempted by an overly cheap, compromised option.
Remember, you can have a great surgeon or a cheap surgeon, you can't have both.
Get it right the first time.
PS - I need to mention how helpful David Anderson (the senior patient advisor) was throughout, but have no more space.