Questions I Am Often Asked

About My Hair Replacement

 

 

Ever since I obtained my own Apollo hair replacement system in November 2002, many readers of my website have asked questions about my hair.I have decided to compose a web page all about my hair replacement to help other transitioning women and anyone else deal with hair loss that is too far advanced for hair transplants or hairline revision surgery.

 

 

How much does your system cost?

 

It cost me around $850 dollars to initially obtain my hair system. When I first ordered it on August 29th (2002), I paid half of that in advance, and I paid the other half when it arrived on November 8th.Shorter systems cost slightly less, and hair down to the waistline will cost a little more.You can expect to spend between $700 and $1000 per hair system.

 

That is merely the initial cost.Depending on your individual scalp (hair growth rate, now oily your scalp is), if you opt to have your system semi-permanently attached, you will need to return to your local Apollo clinic every five to six weeks or so to have the permanent adhesives removed and changed, your scalp washed, and then the system reattached.These sessions cost me $39 almost every month.In addition, the system needs to be colored again after so many months (cost around $23 each time).It is recommended that you use either the hair care products by Apollo or only salon type products which are specifically formulated for use on treated hair, and these will generally cost more than whatever shampoos and hairsprays youíve been getting at Wal-Mart or your grocery store.

 

Later on this page I write about the care and maintenance of the hair system.You want to make your system last as long as possible, because replacement of lost hairs and especially getting a new system will be costly.The stylists tell me that it would cost around $225 to send the system away to have lost hairs replenished, and thatís if the base is still in good enough condition for continued use.If the system base has been damaged, you will need to replace it with a whole new system for the $850 or so you spent initially.I am told that the systems last about one year on average.Some last longer, and some systems are ruined in much less time due to poor maintenance.

 

In any event, your stylists will request that you order your second system several months after you start wearing your first system.I ordered my second system in March 2003, four months after I received the first system.The second system arrived at the Tulsa clinic in May, just before I moved to another state.Once you have two systems, each of your maintenance appointments will go more quickly as they merely remove system A, clean your scalp, apply new adhesive, and put system B on your head.Next time system B will be removed and system A put on.I am also told that the base of each system will last a little longer if they are rotated, as constantly subjecting the base to sweat and oils from the scalp for many months without interruption may wear it out sooner.

 

If you take reasonable care of your hair so that your systems last a year apiece, figure that you will buy one system per year, have eight to ten routine appointments per year, buy the Apollo products, and recolor your system twice or thrice.

 

Keep in mind that these are total annual expenses

†††††† $850††††††† One new system

†††††† $350††††††† Regular appointments (about ten each year)

†††††† $225††††††† Repair (replenishing hairs) of one system each year

†††††† $60††††††††† Hair care products (total for each year)

†††††† $60††††††††† Recoloring (three times each year)

 

So I estimate my annual expenses around $1500.If you take meticulous care of your hair, and end up not having to buy another system in any given year, then your expenses for that particular year will be considerably less.If you are rough in brushing and washing your hair, scratch it up, or otherwise wear it out, your costs will be much higher, easily double or triple.The care of your system will be especially important if you are saving funds for SRS, FFS, or other transition procedures.On the other hand, if you take such good care of your systems that they last longer, in some years (happened for me) your expense of repairing a system might substitute (rather than add on to) your expense of buying a whole new system.

 

A note on hair care products:I figured in the use of shampoo, conditioner, comb gliding hairspray, adhesive strips, and adhesive removers.I have 15-inch long hair systems, so clients with shorter systems might spend a little less.If you also use mousses or other products I did not mention, that would increase your cost.One thing you can do to reduce costs is to buy in quantity.I found that it was far cheaper in the long term to buy their largest bottles of product (anywhere from 13 to 32 ounces) than to buy only 4 or 8 ounces at a time.

 

UPDATE: Costs of hair systems over several years:

 

Despite having longer hair, I have managed to make my hair systems last quite a while.After having had Apollo hair for several years, I can give a better example of my individual expenses:

 

November 2002: Apollo I (my first system) $850

May 2003: Apollo II (my second system to enable rotation) $850

April 2004: Repair of Apollo I system (sent system to have hairs replenished) $225

March 2005: Repair of Apollo II system $225

July 2005: Ordered Apollo III system $850

System rotation & cleaning appointments: $39 every five or six weeks

System recoloring: $20 three or four times each year for all systems

Hair care products: about $150 each year.

 

Notice that after buying my first two systems, I did not need to buy any replacement systems until July 2005, or two years and eight months after I had purchased my very first system.Although Apollo III arrived in September 2005, and I could have worn it to Thailand, I elected to wear Apollo I one last time rather than risk anything happening to my new system during surgery or my recovery.My local Apollo clinic then removed and retired Apollo I in early November 2005, only several days shy of the third anniversary when the Tulsa stylists had first put it on me.Keep in mind that I had worn Apollo I exclusively for the first six months, and then rotated it with Apollo II for more than two years.This means I made Apollo I last for 21 combined months of actual wearing, and rotated it with another system for almost three years.Notice that I didnít have to buy any new systems in the year 2004.That helped accelerate my savings toward SRS at a time when I wasnít allowed to perform much overtime at my workplace.

 

I am still using Apollo II and rotating this with Apollo III.Apollo II has also aged, so I anticipate purchasing Apollo IV sometime between the summer of 2006 and early 2007.I ended up with thinner hairs on Apollo III, so I might not be able to make that last quite as long as the first two systems, but I should still be able to stretch it for at least one year of continuous wear, or more than two years of rotation with my other system.

 

 

Is the system attached all the time, or do you take it off every night?

 

This will depend on your preference. You can have your system semi-permanently attached so that you only have to remove and change the tape on the front of your system, and the rest of the perimeter attached with both tape and an adhesive glue which will remain for the entire five or six weeks between your appointments.Or you can tape the entire perimeter yourself every morning and remove it at night.I choose to have my system semi-permanently attached.The friend in Arkansas who referred me to the Apollo clinic uses tape and removes her system every night.Both options have their advantages and disadvantages.

 

I wish to have hair on my head all the time, all day, all night, and every day.I do change the front tape of my system at home when needed, but I have a lot of long hair on my head full time.As a result, I pretty much forget that I ever had a serious hair loss problem before I first received my system last November.The only time my hair comes off is for a few minutes every five weeks or so when I have my regular appointments at the Apollo clinic, and the only people who ever see my head anymore are the stylists at my local Apollo clinic.I do not have to worry about preparing my hair each time I answer the door or do a short errand such as getting the mail.

 

The downside of semi-permanent attachment includes the need to return to Apollo for regular appointments every five to six weeks, and pay $39 for each session.My friend told me that the systems would wear out sooner for wearing them all night.Semi-permanent attachment is clearly the more expensive option, but having hair on my head full time is important to me, and I am willing to accept the increased expense.Having hair is very important to me.

 

Some Apollo clients tape theirs on each morning and remove it at night. They do not have to make regular visits to Apollo for the maintenance appointments, and the systems apparently last longer if they are not worn to bed.This is definitely a cheaper option.The downside is that you would still be lacking hair part of the time.This could be a problem when spending the night away from home with friends.That was something I could not bear, so I chose the more expensive option.Still, some transitioning women arenít as bothered about this as I am.

 

 

How is the system attached to the head?

 

The stylist shaves the hairs nearest the hairline very short, but doesnít shave them entirely.Then the base of the system is attached to these hairs with adhesive tape, and if the client desires the semi-permanent attachment, a glue is added.When the client returns for the next maintenance appointment, the hairs underneath are shaved again so the system can be attached there.

 

The system is attached to these growing hairs, not to your scalp.As these hairs grow, the system will seem more loose over time.The purpose of regular appointments every five weeks or so is to detach the system from these hairs and then shave those growing hairs back to minimal length so the system can be snugly reattached.

 

 

Does the system look natural?

 

My system does indeed appear natural.I went stealth after moving away from where I had first transitioned and nobody can tell that I am an Apollo client.Even my TS friends say that they could not tell that I had a hair system.The hair appears to be growing from my own scalp.The only circumstance in which I could imagine you being found out is if you cross paths with another transitioned woman who was also wearing a hair system, and she would never tell anyone.

 

People often make comments about my hair.When I first started working in another city far from where I had initially transitioned, a coworker commented that I would feel hot this summer with all that hair.Another woman complained that when her daughter submitted to a drug test by hair sample, they removed a noticeable amount near the top of her head and left a little bald patch on her head, and then she commented, ĎIf I had hair like Sherryís, it wouldnít matter!íLater on, a blonde woman with hair about as long as mine asked me if I always had long hair, and we got into a discussion about the increased time it took to care for our hair, but that we liked our hair long, although she was considering having several inches cut off for the summer.

 

 

Does the system feel natural?

 

My system feels very natural.Apollo uses natural human hair for their systems.When my system was first applied in November 2002, I was amazed at how different it felt from wearing wigs all these years.It was a bit windy in Tulsa that day, and it felt like my own real hair was blowing in the wind.I donít think much about hair loss anymore, because I feel like I have my own real hair wherever I go and whatever I do.

 

 

How will having a hair system affect my lifestyle?

 

You can pretty much do anything you could before you had a hair system.Actually your lifestyle should be improved because of the increased confidence and improved self esteem for having hair.If you were wearing wigs all day before you got your hair system, then this will be a liberation for you.You can play any sport, go swimming, ride in a convertible with the top down, or go on rides at theme parks.It is recommended that you tie your hair back in a ponytail if you plan to do anything that would blow your hair around (this would prevent tangles), but I think you can do whatever you want.

 

The Tulsa stylists tell me that one of their clients was caught in the Oklahoma tornado back in 1999.That tornado was rated an F5, the highest rating on the scale for tornadoes.The twister tore the manís shoes and socks off, but he kept his hair.

 

 

When I transition, I want to live stealth, but I have hair loss.Will I still be able to go stealth with a hair system?

 

I remember someone on a mailing list complaining that they could never live stealth just because they had lost so much hair.Let me reassure you.

 

I have recently moved away from the area where I transitioned and went full time, and am now living stealth.My coworkers and neighbors know me only as Sherry.So I can personally testify that you can indeed go stealth once you have your hair replacement system.

 

It is not even necessary for the stylists to know that you ever transitioned.They will know that you had devastating hair loss, but that doesnít mean you have to out yourself to them about ever being trans.Just before I left Arkansas, I asked the stylist if she thought my new stylists in another city would figure out that I had transitioned.She didnít think so.Just for curiosity, I thought I would come to the new clinic here without mentioning my transition.†† As far as I can tell, the stylists do not know that I ever transitioned.

 

How is that possible?Keep in mind that Apollo stylists see the most severe cases of hair loss in men and especially women.Many women suffer varying degrees of hair loss, but you donít notice this as much because women are far more likely than men to either conceal their hair loss or seek treatment.Still, if you are observant, you will occasionally notice a woman with thinning hair or even balding.Occasionally a woman suffers from a hormone imbalance, which will induce male pattern baldness if her genetics have rendered her susceptible.Women of all ages also suffer severe or total hair loss from chemotherapy, stress related disorders, accidents, burns, and certain illnesses, and Apollo stylists have seen all of the very worst and most unusual cases.Tulsa has one client who lost every hair on her head during her teens when she was stressed out over family issues.Years later she has not regrown any hair and it appears she might not ever regrow any hair, but she does now have an Apollo system and is married.Whatever the severity of your hair loss before transition, it is nothing new to Apollo stylists, and you do not need to disclose your transition.

 

Whatever your hair loss situation is, you can still be all that you feel you should be.

 

 

You say my hair system will last longer if I care for it meticulously.How should I take care of my system?

 

Your stylists will give you tips and advice regarding your hair care.With a little effort and some patience, you can make you system last for quite a while.

 

1.     When brushing or combing your hair, and especially when dealing with tangles, you do not want to pull on the hair of the root.The hairs are not as strongly attached to the base, as your own hair would be to your scalp, so you do need to be careful.†† When combing the ends with one hand, I hold the hairs farther up with the other hand so that I donít pull where the hairs are attached to the base.Even when holding the hairs while detangling, you still need to be careful and patient, because hair strands themselves are also subject to damage.I use a comb gliding spray.Start from the ends, combing down, and then work up toward the roots.

2.     Use a wide spaced plastic comb, or use something recommended by Apollo stylists.Do not use combs or brushes with metal bristles.Sometimes it helps to detangle by using your fingers at first.Be patient, and donít pull too hard on the hair or especially the base.

3.     Do not comb or brush hair when it is wet.

4.     Detangle hair before you wash it.

5.     Use only hair care products from Apollo, or salon type products formulated for treated hair.Your hair system has been color treated, and for many clients has also been permed. Also, you do not want to use any products that might weaken or ruin the base of your system.

6.     Do not use heated curling items.

7.     Do not use heated blow dryers.Towel dry your hair, or use the cool setting on the blow dryer.

8.     Reduce sun exposure to your hair by wearing a hat or other covering if you will be outdoors a lot.

9.     Rinse hair after using a chlorinated swimming pool.

10.   Gently move aside hairs that get in your face.Donít yank them out of your system, because each hair lost this way will thin out the system.

11.   When washing your hair, donít scrub your head with your fingers as many guys do.I was advised to pour a little shampoo in a cup, mix it with some water, and then apply that on the hair.This works for me.

12.   It is not necessary to use a lot of shampoo.Using too much shampoo or doing it too frequently may dry out the hair and subject it to more rapid damage.

13.   The less you do to your hair, the longer you hair system will endure.

14.   If you opt to have your system semi-permanently attached so you wear it day and night, it is recommended that you use satin pillowcases or covers to reduce friction.

15.   15. Do not scratch on your system to relieve itching.Apollo stylists have often told me about clients who rapidly develop patches of lost hairs on their systems as a result of frequent scratching of their head, often in only one or two months.

 

Proper hair care will cause your system to last longer, and you wonít have to spend money to repair or replace your system as often.Remember that heat, chemicals, and physical force are all bad for your hair.

 

My stylist told me about the many clients who recklessly brush their hair or tear it out while yanking on tangles, or yanking hair out of their face, and then returning to the clinic after only two months and complaining that their systems were losing hair and asking why.Well I was so happy to have hair again and treated it as being sacred.Why would other clients do things that they know will wreck their newly gained hair?When I returned for my first regular appointment five weeks after receiving my first hair system, my stylist was very relieved that not only did I maintain my system well, but I didnít even have many tangles.She told me that some clients with hair only four inches long were coming in with matted hair and extensive tangles, or tearing up their systems.I do detangle and comb my hair just before appointments to make things easier for the stylist.

 

In the early days of my hair system, I worked in the evisceration department of the chicken plant (yuck!), so I had to wash my hair almost every day.I did transfer to a cleaner department in April, and then left the chicken plant altogether in May.I only shampoo two or three times a week, although lately I do rinse my hair after work, because it is hot and sweaty in my workplace at this time of year.

 

Evidently, many people with hair systems think that rapid hair loss is inevitable.I find that it is not.After I moved to another city, the new stylist commented that my first system was in quite good shape for having been worn for six months.Proper and patient hair care can extend the life of the systems and make the expense worthwhile.

 

 

Is there an Apollo clinic near me?

 

Apollo has clinics all over the USA in many of the large cities, and also some offices outside the USA.You can find a location near you by going to their International Website and clicking on their locations in the upper right area of the webpage.

 

In addition, some (but not all) of the individual offices have their own webpages.You might type ĎApolloí and the name of your state or country into a search engine.

 

 

Obtaining your hair system: The process

 

I first went to the Apollo clinic in Tulsa on August 29th, 2002.After a consultation, we determined that my solution would be to receive a custom ACR system, although I had decided that this was what I would do.They took measurements of the area of my hair loss, and I chose a hair color close to mine, but with a little bit of red tint.I paid half of the price in advance, and would pay the other half when the system arrived in November.

 

Then I waited.The systems are constructed somewhere in the Orient, and then shipped here.Once ordered, a system takes seven to eight weeks to arrive in the USA.I set my appointment for November 8th to allow ten weeks.Then I drove back home and began to wait.

 

When I arrived on November 8th, the stylist commented that I seem excited, which I was.I had nearly finished facial electrolysis, been on HRT for 12 months, and this hair was going to enable me to begin my legal and social transition to what I should have been.Not even when I grew my hair out at age 14 did I ever have as much hair as they put on my head today.Wigs could not compare with this at all, I felt so natural.

 

On Monday my coworkers saw my new hair.Even before that day, some coworkers were pretty sure that I was going to make a gender transition, and now my new hair confirmed it.As the weeks passed I began to feel that I could transition in the chicken plant after all, and was full time just before the end of the year.Some coworkers could not understand how my system was attached, and one person believed that the system was either stitched or stapled in.Others thought that the hairs would now actually be able to grow.I had to do a lot of educating to my coworkers about my system.

 

In 1982 I grew my hair out so I would look like a girl.Now 20 years later, I picked up from where I left off on the day mom made me get my hair cut, and continued to do what I was wanting to do all this time.I was full time legally and socially just before the end of the year, and then ended up going stealth in another state.

 

 

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