More men are turning to hair transplant surgery to restore their thinning locks, choosing procedures that work just as well for women. HELLO! investigates the growth industry… In June 2011, Wayne Rooney announced he had taken action over his thinning hair. "Just to confirm to all my followers I have had a hair transplant. I was going bald at 25 why not," he wrote on Twitter. After being "delighted with the results", the former England football captain went on to have a second transplant.
Wayne is not alone; other famous faces who have spoken openly and honestly about their hair loss include Louis Walsh, Backstreet Boy AJ McLean and Robbie Williams, who proudly revealed on The Graham Norton Show he "had a thatch done". Actor James Nesbitt credited his transplant with boosting his career, saying last February: "In terms of the range of leading roles I’ve had since then, it's probably helped."
Robbie Williams admitted to getting a hair transplant
Publicity, coupled with the advances in hair transplant methods in recent years, is breaking down the stigma that might once have been associated with hair loss treatment – for men and women. Hair transplants can be broadly divided into two methods: follicular unit transplantation (FUT), which involves transferring a strip of tissue from a donor area (an area of stable growth at the back or sides of the head) to a bald or balding part of the head, and follicular unit extraction (FUE), which is removing individual hair follicles from the donor area and implanting them one by one into the affected areas (the recipient site).
Although the basic principle is the same, FUE is more popular because, unlike FUT, it leaves no linear scarring and delivers more natural-looking results. It requires no stitches so is less painful, with a faster recovery time – patients can leave the clinic immediately after the transplant. "We have seen a steady increase in the number of patients booking consultations for FUE hair transplant procedures, due to the sophisticated nature of the treatment and the results that can be achieved," says Dr Thomy Kouremada-Zioga, hair transplant surgeon at The Private Clinic of Harley Street, London.
James Nesbitt said getting a hair transplant helped him to get acting roles
However, with a standard FUE procedure, the patient needs to shave their entire head, which may make them feel self-conscious. To combat this, Thomy has pioneered the micro unshaven-FUE (micro UFUE) procedure, with no need to shave or trim before the procedure. "About 40 per cent of the transplants I do are now by micro UFUE," Thomy says. "The procedure is almost undetectable."
Micro UFUE is carried out under local anaesthetic and uses a punch measuring less than 1mm in diameter to remove the follicles. Typically, between 2,500 and 5,000 hairs can be harvested in one procedure. The skill of the doctor is of upmost importance – they must ensure the right angles, orientation and distribution of the implants to achieve natural-looking results.
Patients can see the outline of their new hairline immediately following treatment and the hair will start to grow right away. However, it is normal for some of the new hair to shed a few weeks after treatment before growing back strong, healthy and permanently. Hair growth comes progressively, with a good indication of the final look being seen after five to six months. The full results are achieved after approximately a year.
Wayne Rooney had a hair transplant in 2011
Both FUE and FUT are available for women, with FUE the most popular option. According to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, over half of women undergoing hair restoration surgery are aged 30 to 49 – similar to men. Genetics are the most common cause of hair loss, so patients are encouraged to manage their expectations. Hair transplanted from the back and sides of the head has no genetic predisposition to fall out, so it will last a lifetime. However, grafts will not stop the progression of hereditary hair loss and gaps may form on the head. These may need to be repaired through additional surgery, meaning some patients may require more than one procedure in their lifetime.
After revealing that "losing your hair is one of the most demoralising things that can happen to a man as he ages", Calum Best has now had three hair transplants and credits them for "changing his life". He adds: "The difference in my self-esteem is immeasurable."
The Hair-Raising Truth
- Hair transplants are considered nonessential so they are not usually available on the NHS. However, your GP might be the place to start your research and enquiries. They can offer guidance and advice and may be able to refer you to a practitioner who specialises in the field.
- Finding the right surgeon for your type of procedure is crucial to success. Check that the hospital or clinic you are considering is registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which regulates cosmetic treatments that involve surgical procedures.
- For further information on hair loss treatment and restoration, visit the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery’s website, ishrs.org.
· To contact Dr Thomy Kouremada-Zioga, visit theprivateclinic.co.uk. Prices vary, but standard FUE procedures start at around £2.50 per hair. A micro UFUE costs around £4 per hair, and can be paid in instalments.
Investment Hair Care
- Regaine For Men Extra Strength Scalp Foam 5% w/w Cutaneous Foam, £34.95 for 1 month’s supply, from boots.com. Clinically proven to help stop hair loss and reverse the progression of hereditary hair loss. Also available for women
- Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, £1.25, from boots.com. The gentle formula protects thinning hair
- Holland & Barrett Saw Palmetto Capsules, £15.99 for 100; visit hollandandbarrett.com. This herbal remedy not only benefits the prostate, it has also been shown to help men with hair loss