Crown Clinic'shair transplant surgeon Asim Shahmalak is one of the world's leading experts on hair transplantations. He is often asked common questions by patients considering a hair transplant - either a FUE (follicular unit extraction) or FUT (follicular unit transplantation) procedure. Here are the ten of the most common questions.
1 How much will it cost?
Prices at Crown Clinic start at £5,000 - this is for the more traditional method of transplantation, FUT, where a strip of skin is removed from the back or side of the scalp to source the donor hairs. FUT is cheaper than FUE where the donor grafts are removed individually from the back or side of the scalp. FUE is more expensive because it is more labour intensive - it takes longer to source the grafts. Around 80% of Crown Clinic patients opt for FUE.
2 Will I be left with scarring after undergoing a hair transplant?
Patients can avoid scarring by optiing for a FUE transplant. The advantage of FUE over FUT is the scarring is almost impossible to detect. FUT patients tend to have a lined scar on the scalp where the donor grafts are removed. FUE patients have visible red pin pricks immediately after the grafts are removed and replanted in the balding areas. These tend to go away after a few days and there are no visible scars thereafter. FUT is suitable for patients who wear their hair long because this hair covers up the scarring. FUT is not acceptable for patients who like to wear their hair short or shaved.
Will I feel pain during and after the transplant?
Not necessarily. There is an element of discomfort in any surgical procedure even if it is just the prick you feel when the anaesthetic is administered. Most patients at Crown Clinic experience no great discomfort or pain while the procedure is carried out or in the days afterwards. Extracting and replanting the grafts takes several hours. Most patients relax during this time by watching a video. Some are so relaxed when this process is happening that they fall asleep!
4 Are there non-surgical cures for baldness?
The only long-term solution to baldness is a hair transplant. However, there are clinically proven non-surgical treatments that can slow down or halt the onset of baldness. Dr Shahmalak often recommends taking these drugs in conjuction with a hair transplant. Many of his patients take the drug Finasteride (also known as Propecia) which can slow down or halt hair loss. We often recommend Minoxidil (also know as Regaine) which can be taken as a mousse spread on the hair and which can also slow down baldness.
5 Will a hair transplant help me to grow new hair?
Sadly not. What the surgeon is doing is redistributing hair around the scalp - taking hair from where there is an abundance (on the back and sides of the scalp) and replanting it in areas where the baldness is apparent. All men, how ever bald they are, have a permanent 'horse shoe' of hair around the back and side of the scalp. This is where all donor hair is extracted. The beauty of a hair transplant is that any hair replanted in balding areas tends to be permanent and will last the patient for the rest of his or her life.
6 Will I continue to lose my natural hair after a hair tranplant?
Hair loss is a continual process so, yes, there is a chance that you will continue to lose more of your natural hair even after a hair transplant. While the transplanted hair will be permanent, there is some risk that a patient will continue to lose their natural hair, particularly if they decline to take hair loss medication such as Finasteride. This is one of the reasons why Dr Shahmalak declines to operate on men under the age of 25. Men who start losing their hair in the late teens or early 20s tend to have quite aggressive hair loss and it is not a good idea to operate until the pattern of hair loss is established.
7 How long will it be before I notice a difference after a hair transplant?
All hair transplant patients need to be that the positive benefits will not be visible immediately afterwards. In the days immediately following a hair transplant, the new transplanted hair will fall out. This is nothing to worry about and is entirely normal. The important thing is that the new roots are bedded into the scalp. Over time the new hair will grow back again and most patients start to notice a difference around three months after a transplant. But it will anything up to nine months to a year before the hair transplant will show its full effects.
8 How much time do I need to take off work?
We recommend a week. Almost all patients are treated in a single day - arriving in the morning and leaving in the afternoon with the transplant completed. After that, it is just question of waiting for the new hair to grow back. We don't recommend that patients drive home from the clinic because they can still be feeling a little groggy after the surgery. There are other precautions they need to take - sleeping upright for a few days after the procedure so as not to dislodge the new hair grafts. Patients should also wear a buttonned up shirt - because taking off a pull-over or a T-shirt could also disrupt the grafts while they are bedding in. We recommend leaving it a week before resuming more strenuous activities such as going to the gym. After a week there may still be a little scarring but most patients can resume normal life and return to work.
9 Will I need more than one hair transplant?
A single hair transplant is suffiicent for most patients unless they have fairly advanced pattern baldness. If they are heavily bald, we may not recommend proceeding with a hair trasplant because there will not be enough donor hair to cover up the bald spots. Someone like Prince William is so bald now that he has probably left it too late to have an effective transplant. Some patients have more than one hair transplant - particularly if they decline to take hair loss medication such as Finasteride. Crown Clinic patients, model Calum Best and Gogglebox star Chris Steed, have both had two FUE transplants at Crown Clinic. The TV doctor Christian Jessen has had two FUT procedures with our surgeon Asim Shahmalak.
10 What is the most important consideration when patients considering a hair transplant?
That is very simple: the choice of your surgeon. Do your homework and make sure you pick the very best. Check if they are affiliated to a respected professional body such as the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery. Check that they have recent testimonials from satisfied patients. It is a good sign if they have lots celebrity clients - rich and famous people tend to be very careful about which surgeons they use. Do be very careful if you are thinking of going abroad for surgery to country like Turkey. The hair transplant industry there is largely unregulated which means, if they anything does go wrong, you will have no form of redress. That is not the case in the UK where every surgeon performing hair transplantation is very heavily regulated. Stringent annual checks are carried out on each clinic.