Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Operation (FineTouch Dermatology)

ARRIVAL DAY:

After an 11hr flight from London to L.A. Mom and I arrived arrived safely and stayed 1x block away in a hotel in Redondo Beach.  I popped into FineTouch Dermatology as I was curious to see the place, make sure it really existed and meet the staff.  Thankfully, they all exist and we were made to feel very welcome and everything seemed, calm yet profession.   Like most people at the top of their game, Dr. Umar is a humble man, calm, softly spoken with an air of 'nothing to prove'.


OPERATION DAY:

Nice relaxing start to the day and after a late breakfast as recomended by the team in order for the medications to work as expected ahead of my afternoon appointment.  Dr. Umar and his medical team (Nicole, Daisy and Chelsea) were excellent and made provisions to make my mother relaxed and comfortable ready for my expected 3hr operation.

After a detailed consultation the medications were administered.  Pictures, videos and measurements were taken, I got changed then lay face down on the operating chair/bed and received the aneasthetic directly into my scar.  This was the only uncomfortable bit as the back of the head is particularly fleshy and sensitive.  Once the meds kicked in, Dr. Umar and his team setabout about removal of my AKN scar.  I was very aware of the burning smell as the tools cut out the scar using some sort of heated blade.  I felt a bit of heat twice near the start of the operation, but no problem as once I told the team, they administered more aneasthetic and then I relaxed for the next 2.5hrs.  I could feel some blood splashing, however this was immediately taken care of by the team without the need to say anything.  I could feel lots of pulling as Dr. Umar gradually cut out the scar and all keloid tissue.  No pain whatsoever so I relaxed.  I almost fell asleep a couple of times as there was also soft music playing throughout.  During the operation I realised just how focussed the team are and they seemed to preempt each other's moves with almost military precision and discipline.

After the operation, more pictures and video taken by the team, then the new scar was dressed and bandagged.  I peeped at the removed scar and was amazed how large it really was.  It was floating in a contain with some sort of dark liquid prior to being sent off to the pathology laborotries..  I found it looked quite hideous from the insideonce I looked at it closely - Thank God it's gone!  We were then given plenty of medication to carry out, a drink, then we returned to the hotel for a much needed meal.  Literally as I returned to my room, I felt some bleeding.  It lasted about 15mins, then clotted naturally - I was pre-warned about this so did not panic, however I realised how very awkward it would have been to try and clean myself.  Mom assisted and also came into my room every 1.5-2hrs or so to check I was not excessively bleeding during my sleep.


NEXT DAY:

Returned to the clinic for routine check-ups and all was well.  I dilligently took the medication and Mom took close note of how Daisy changed my dressing.  Thankfully Mom was a Midwife, so instictively knew what to do.  Rest of the day spent relaxing.  Visited Hollywood (very over-rated) and returned to the room for more rest.  Glad to be back at Redondo Beach, much much nicer (I could happily live here)! ;-)


MY OPINION:

I am not in a position to offer advise as I am not medically trained, however here's some of my own opinions:

1) Follow every instruction to the letter as advised my DR. Umar and his team

2) Wear a dark colored T-shirt with a very wide neck, ideally buttons-up at the front with no collar - trust me, this is good advice - [You are unlikely to be cold, this is California!]

3) Have a trusted person with you after the operation - I underestimated how reliant I would be on Mom's assitance - Can you believe that I was going to make this trip alone, until my wife and mother insisted I had assistance? - I'm grateful to both my wife and my Mother as I needed Mom immeasurably during the post operation days and long flight home to England

4) Eat a good amount of fruit and vegetables in the run up to the oepration - I ate lots of spinach, peas, corn, grapes, apples and oranges in the 2 weeks prior and felt great

5) Drink lots of water, but given the length of time of the operation, perhaps stop drinking 2hrs prior to the start time

6) Stay somewhere peaceful and close to the clinic/surgery - Redondo Beach is an especially calm, peacful and beutiful place, if you can stay here then I think it will do you the world of good

7) Rest when you need it - Listen to your body - Holiday another time, for now just relax

8) Take some time out from work after the operation - I underestimated the healing required.  No lateral movement to start with, so that rules out driving (which I do to get to work), also there could be a little bleeding or oozing of the gel, and your neck will at first be a little tight, so just stay at home, get some rest and again - listen to your body



POST-OPERATION PICTURES [Viewer discretion - graphic images follow]:

The white lumpy things at the top of the scar are just cotton wool buds.  The purple colour is BetaDine (something like Iodine).  Sutures (a kind of stitch) hold the scar in the semi-closed position (e.g. the vertical thread-like lines).  You can see already thay my hair-line will be very close to my original hair-line and that the AKN scar has been completely removed.  The whitish creamy looking substance around the scar is the melted antibiotic gel that is put into the scar twice a day each time the dressing is changed. 

These pictures were taken 2x days after the operation) and prior to it being cleaned.  I wanted to show it in it's purest form - The expectation is that this wide scar will mostly close similar to those on the FineTouch Dermatolgy website:





Last picture above shows my Mom's handy work - Thanks Mom!!! :-)


Pictures Prior to Surgery 2013 and 2006 - [WARNING - Some images are very graphic - Viewer discretion is advised]



This is a good shot of the back of my head [October 2013] as it was a few days prior to my trip to L.A. for surgery.  The condition was stable, but flaky and very itchy.  The very white bit in the middle is what I guess us dead skin from numerous cryotherapy over the years.  It may look flat, but it is not, if you could touch it, you would realise it is very uneven with a small ridge, then lots of little bumps around the outside.

The bumps would bleed most days and soil my pillows.  The upper ridge would itch like crazy and would flake off.  The only product I found able to stabilise this, was a product from 'Breej' called 'Bump Zapper - Extra Strength.  This dried it out and seemed to prevent it getting worse, but was not a cure.



Above is a clearer shot of my AKN prior to surgery in October 2013.  Now you can see just how advanced my condition was.  Notice the very light patch in the middle and of you look closely, you will see lots of little bumps along the top of the scar area.




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[*** WARNING *** VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED]
(Some viewers may find the below 2006 images alarming!!!)

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The 4x images above are from 2006.  They were taken shortly after some from 'The Bump Centre' in London.  The treatment was cryotherapy, followed by some herbal treatments in the form of a blackish tar-like substance and a series of herbal tabletts.  I have heard that their treatment worked for some, but it did not work for me partly as I did not complete the treatment as I seemed to get ill and wasn't sure if it was due to the tabletts, partly as I saw no tangible improvement and most of all I could no longer bare the excrutiating pain of the bi-weekly cryotherapy and the eye-wateringly painful peeling of the black substance from the scar prior to each cryotherapy session.  I stopped after a few weeks.  The 4x pictures above from 2006 shows the tar-like substance cracking and considerable oozing.


I later visited 'AB Bumps' in London and the treatment seemed much kinder (e.g. not so painful) and I observed it wokring for some, but not all patients.  It killed off many of the smaller legions around the perimiter, but not all.  the entire scar area widened during this time.  I received treatment there for approximately 7 months, then eventually gave up.




Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Heading to L.A.

Well, I'm almost ready for bed as I head to L.A. in a few hours ahead of tomorrow's operation.  All paperwork complete (and believe me, there is lots of it) and am wondering how this story will pan out.

Incase you're wondering what my condition looks like, see below:



Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Journey Starts Here...

I live in the UK and have suffered 'Acne Keloidalis Nuchae' (AKN) at the back of my head since my late teenage years.  I am due to have an operation a week from now to remove the 2x 2.5 inch scar.  During the last 20 years I have tried most available types of treatment, however the condition is still there, it itches and sometimes bleeds.  At best, I have managed to stabilise it by using Bump Zapper [Extra Strength] by Breej and controlling my diet, e.g. mostly avoiding yeast-based products or at least minimising their in-take (e.g. bread, beer, cakes, malt extract drinks etc.) and drinking plenty of water.  I still partake in all of these things, but try to minimise. 

I stumbled accross some YouTube videos of Dr. Umar Sanusi's work at FineTouch Dermatology in Los Angeles (USA) for conditions similar to my own.  Looked promising, and seemed to dramatically improve appearance.  I made contact with the surgery and approximately 5 weeks, many emails and a phonecall later, I am now booked on flight to LA next week to have my AKN removed.  The purpose of this blog is to share an honest account of events before, during and up until 1 year after my operation.  I will write details of whatever happens along the way and hope that in some way, I can help other sufferers of AKN by my experience.  I have no idea how this story will unfold, however I am optimistic and promise to record all signifcant detail here with some occasional pictures and videos.

Well, that's all for now, keep watching as I will soon be talking about my experiences so far with fine touch Dermatology.

Best regards,

Patient-AKN-UK.