Crown Clinic's surgeon Asim Shahmalak sees dozens of potential patients each month who are considering a hair transplant - either a FUE (follicular unit extraction) procedure or the more traditional FUT (follicular unit transplantation) procedure.
As with any cosmetic procedure, some patients decide to go ahead with the hair transplant and some decide it is not for them. These same questions crop up at most consultations either at Crown Clinic HQ in Manchester or our consulting rooms in Harley Street.
1 What is the most important decision I need to make before embarking on a transplant?
That is an easy one to answer - your choice of surgeon is the most important consideration. You need to pick one who is respected in the cosmetic surgery industry and who is a member of a recognised trade body. The British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery (BAHRS) recognises all the most respected surgeons in the UK. If your surgeon is a member of a body such as this, you are in safe hands. Dr Shahmalak is a BAHRS member. Be very wary of any clinic which is not a member. They may well be run by sales people who put generating business before the best interests of their patients.
2 Will it hurt?
This is one of the big fears that patients have prior to surgery. No surgery is not without any element of pain - whether that be the administering of the anaesthetic or recovery post-surgery when there can be mild swelling. We can report the experience of most patients at Crown Clinic who tend to watch TV during their procedures on the screen we have in our operating theatre. Some are so relaxed they fall asleep during the treatment.
3 How noticeable will the scarring be?
Around 80% of patients opt for a FUE procedure. This is where individual hair grafts are removed from the back and sides of the scalp and replanted in the balding areas. FUE patients have noticeable red pin pricks where the donor hair is harvested and the transplanted hair is replanted for a few days after the procedure. There is no noticeable scarring beyond that. The minimal scarring effects is why FUE has far overtaken FUT as the most popular form of hair transplantation in the last five years.
With FUT, the donor hair is extracted by surgically removing a strip of skin from the scalp - from which the grafts are extracted under a microscope. These grafts are replanted in the balding areas in the same way as FUE. The removal of this strip does leave a lined scar on the scalp. However. it is not particularly noticeable if you wear your hair relatively long, like Crown Clinic patient Christian Jessen, the TV doctor. If you like to wear you hair short or shaved at the back and sides, FUT is not for you.
4 Do patients like to have the same procedures of celebrities like Wayne Rooney and Calum Best who have both had hair transplants?
Yes they do. Five years ago, 80% of Crown Clinic patients opted for FUT procedures and only 20% chose FUE. FUT is cheaper because it is less labour intensive when it comes to removing the grafts. There has beena major shift in the last five years as more patients copy the likes of Wayne and Calum Best and other Crown Clinic patients such as the former footballer Didi Hamann, Chris Butland-Steed from Gogglebox and Martin Roberts from Homes Under The Hammer who all had FUE transplants at Crown Clinic.
5 How long before the signs of growth are visible?
Immediately after the transplant, the transplanted hair will fall out. This is nothing to worry about. The key factor is that the new transplanted hairs are happy in their new home. Once the roots are established, the transplanted hair grows back. This can take up to three or four months.
Once this process starts, you will really see the benefits of the transplant. It can take anywhere between six months and a year for all the new hair to grow back. All patients can see the full benefits of their transplant after a year.
6 Will the results be permanent?
Yes absolutely - transplanted hair will tend to last patients for the rest of their lives. However, hair loss is a continual process. So there is no guarantee that patients will not lose more of their natual hair. They can slow down or halt this process by taking a clinically proven hair loss drug such as Minoxidil or Finasteride. Dr Shahmalak will only operate on a patient once their pattern of hair loss has been established. This rules out patients under the age of 25.
7 How long will I need to rest after a hair transplant?
Dr Shahmalak recommends that patients take a week off from work following their transplant. You will be in and out of the clinic in a day but it is best to take it easy for a few days so that the transplanted hair can get established. Avoid going to the gym or strenuous exercise and wear button-down shirts rather than pull-overs which can dislodge the grafts when pulled over the head.