Crown Clinic's surgeon Asim Shahmalak is often asked to provide simple guides to male hair transplantation. Here are the 10 key points to remember if you considering having a transplant based on the most common questions put to Dr Shahmalak. We do genuinely feel that hair transplans are the most transformative procedures that a man can have.
1 What procedures are available? There are two common procedures. Around 80% of patients at Crown Clinic choose the FUE (follicular unit extraction) technique used on celebrities such as Wayne Rooney and Crown Clinic's patients, model Calum Best, Gogglebox star Chris Steed, football pundit Didi Hamann and Homes Under The Hammer presenter Martin Roberts. Dr Shahmalak will revmove individual hair follicles from the back and sides of the scalp where the hair is strongest and most abundant - and move them to the balding areas. The other popular technique is FUT (follicular unit transplantation), used by around 20% of Crown Clinic patients including the TV doctor Christian Jessen. This involves surgically cutting a strip of skin from the back of the head with the hair follicles attached. This strip is put under a microscrope and the follicles are removed and separated by skilled technicians.
2 Advantages of FUE- the surgeon removes each follicle separately so scarring is minimal. This is a big advantage if you like to wear your hair short or shaved.
3 Scarring with FUT- yes, the scar is more visible than with FUE but it is very difficult to see if you wear your hair longer. It is an older technique and an effective one. Because all the follicles are removed at the same time there is less chance of them being damaged.
4 Getting the best from your hair transplant- Dr Shahmalak sees all his patients personally to plan exactly which areas will be bolstered with the transplanted hair. He will look at the pattern of a patient's hair loss to assess best how many grafts he will take and where they will be used to boost the hairline. There are a limited number of follicles that can be used for a transplant. Patients need to be realistic and not too greedy. While your hairline will be transformed, you may not get the hairline you had when you were a teenager. If the grafts are spread out too much, it doesn't look right. Dr Shahmalak will create a good natural hairline which will takes years off your age.
5 What's the operation like? This is performed under local anaesthetic. Most patients are pretty relaxed when the grafts are removed. Some are so chilled that they fall asleep while others watch DVDs. Once the follicles have been extracted either by FUT or FUE, the surgeon makes the holes for the patient's new hairline. They need to be made in such a way that they follow the natural slant of the patient's existing hair. This is where the skill of the surgeon really counts - the very best surgeons like Dr Shahmalak make the new hair look as natural as possible, perfectly blending with existing hair.
6 How many follicles can be transplanted? Anywhere between 2,000 and up to 5,000 follicles in a single day.
7 Key aftercare tips - you need to treat your scalp with extreme care for the first couple of weeks following a hair transplant. At Crown Clinic we recommend that you wear a buttoned shirt rather than a sweater or a T-shirt because the act of taking off a pull-over or T-shirt can dislodge the new hairs. You need to be careful when you wash your new hair at first to make sure none of the tranpslanted hair comes out. Within two weeks, the new grafts are pretty solid and you can return to your normal routine.
8 How long does it take to grow back? No two patients are the same but around 8 months. The new hair will fall out in the immediate aftermath of the operation. This is entirely normal - the important thing is that the new roots are established. From these, the new hair will grow back in time, but it can be 8 months and up to a year before your new hair transplant will look its best.
9 What can go wrong? There are fears that a patient's grafts can end up looking like a doll with hair plugs - individual clumps of hair - creating an unnatural look. Certainly this was a valid worry 15 years ago when modern hair transplant techniques were still in their infancy. Such worries are no longer relevant. Provided you do your research and go to the right surgeon - one with international recognition such as Crown Clinic's Dr Shahmalak - you can get a natural-looking transplant.
10 Why go to the trouble? Hair loss can have a damaging effect on a man's self-esteem. Studies consistently show that men with a full head of hair are happier and more confident and this impacts on their personal relationships and even their earning power.