5 things you need to know about a hair transplant

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Around 50% of men will have experienced hair loss by the time they reach 50%. And around 40% of women will experience hair loss at some point in their lives.

Hair loss for either sex can be dispiriting and badly hit a person's self-esteem. There is only one long-term solution to pattern baldness – a hair transplant.

Here Crown Clinic's surgeon Asim Shahmalak list five important points to consider for any person considering a procedure.

1 Choice of surgeon – Once you have decided to have a transplant the most important decision you will make is the choice of your surgeon. Be very wary of picking a surgeon abroard, particularly in countries such as Turkey. Yes, the surgery will be cheaper but will you have any form of reddress if things go wrong. Is your surgeon even legal and is their clinic properly regulated.

In the UK, every medical establishment, including all hair transplant surgeries, are inspected regularly by the Quality Care Commission. If they are not up to scratch, they are closed down. Only the very best facilities stay in business. Don't cut costs on such a vital life decision by seeking cheap surgery abroad.

Check that your UK surgeon has good testimonials from previous patients and it helps if they are recognised by internationally respected medical bodies such as the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery. 

2 Choice of procedure – there are two types of hair transplant procedure available:

FUE (follicular unit extraction) – this is the main surgery performed at Crown Clinic by Dr Shahmalak and the one chosen by 80% of our patients. Individual grafts are removed from the back and side of the scalp and replanted in the balding areas. The advantage of this method is that scarring is minimal – some red pin pricks in the affected areas which go away after a few days. This method particular suits men who like to wear their hair short because the scarring is minimal. It is popular with our celebrity clients – Calum Best, Gogglebox star Chris Butland-Steed, Didi Hamann and Homes Under The Hammer star Martin Roberts.

FUT (follicular unit transplantation), also known as strip surgery – this more traditional method of hair transplantation is still chosen by around 20% of patients at Crown Clinic. A strip of skin is surgically removed from the back or side of the scalp and the donor grafts are extracted from it using a microscope. They are then replanted in the balding area in the same way as FUE. This is less labour intensive than FUE and therefore slightly cheaper. Celebrity doctor Christian Jessen has had two FUT procedures at Crown Clinic. It suited him because he wears his hair slightly longer and you cannot see the scar from the removal of strip because his longer hair covers it up.

3 Hair transplants are available for both men and women. Around 10% of our patients at Crown Clinic are women. While a large number of women suffer hair loss, for most thankfully this is temporary and the hair grows back. But a substantial minority of women have permanently thin hair which can really hit their self-confidence. A hair transplant offers a permanent solution unlike other temporary measures such as hair extensions.

4 You can have more than one hair transplant – some Crown Clinic patients have several procedures. Both Calum Best and Chris Butland-Steed have had three. This is because they both declined to take Finasteride. They both had quite aggressive hair loss and coldl have kept hold of more of their natural hair with the right drugs. Both men have full heads of hair and both admit they would be almost completely bald without the assistance of Asim Shahmalak. 

Our Surgeon

Dr. Asim Shahmalak

Dr Asim Shahmalak is a world-renowned hair transplant surgeon who performed the UK’s first eyelash transplant in 2009. He runs Crown Clinic – one of Britain’s most successful and best known hair transplant clinics. He has treated a number of high-profile industry leaders and celebrities including the medical broadcaster Dr Christian Jessen, best known for Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies.

Expert hair transplant surgery by Dr Shahmalak

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When the sun comes out, we know that we need to apply sunscreen to protect our skin, but many people forget to pay the same care to protecting their hair. Between the sun, sea and swimming pools, many of our favourite summer activities can significantly damage our hair – so the next time you go out to enjoy the sunshine, find out what you can do to protect it.


Why does sun damage the hair?


Sun damage to the hair is caused by the harmful UVA and UVB rays, which damage the outermost layer of the layer – the cuticle – and weaken the protein structure of the hair, making it dry, brittle and more prone to breaking. Some people find that their hair lightens in the sun, as the rays act in a similar fashion to bleach, stripping the melanin from the hair.


Protecting your hair from the sun


Wearing a hat is an easy way to protect your hair and scalp from the sun, especially if you’re outside when the sun is at its strongest. Hair SPF is also an option, which can usually be bought as a spray to be misted over the hair. Pay extra attention to the scalp – many people forget that the scalp can burn just as easily as the rest of the skin, ending up with an itchy, flaky, burnt scalp. If you do burn your scalp, rinse your hair in cool water and apply aloe vera to the affected areas, and make sure to keep your head covered when going outdoors.

If your hair is looking dry, try a deep conditioning treatment to restore some of the lost moisture to the hair, and avoid wearing your hair in any tight styles that may pull on the scalp. Summer is also a good time to temporarily stop using hairdryers, straighteners and any other hot tools to avoid adding to the sun damage.


Protecting your hair from the sea


Salt water is notorious for drying out the hair. It leaches moisture out of it, making it incredibly brittle and tangled, which can cause significant breakage. Before you go swimming, saturate your hair with clean water to prevent it from absorbing as much salt water, and don’t let it sit in your hair – rinse it thoroughly as soon as you get out of the sea. Deep conditioners and hair masks will also help replenish the moisture.


Protecting your hair in a swimming pool


Just like salt water, chlorinated water is very harsh and drying on the hair, so you can take similar precautions to swim in the sea. You could also try a swimming cap, as this not only prevents the chlorine from damaging your hair, but it will also protect your scalp from sunburn. If you have highlighted or blonde hair, be especially careful when in a swimming pool, as the copper and chlorine in the water have been known to form a film that sticks to the proteins in hair, turning it a green shade. Thankfully, this isn’t permanent, but make sure to enter the pool with wet hair and rinse it as soon as you get out.

However you are spending your summer, if you have any questions or queries about your hair, take a look at our hair advice or give our team a call.

Over the past few months, there have been a significant number of reports in the news of people experiencing hair loss after being diagnosed with COVID-19. As a result, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has listed hair loss as a possible long-term effect of the illness, along with symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness and joint pain. 

A study published by the medical journal The Lancet reported that 22% of the patients it had observed suffered from some degree of hair loss six months after falling ill, with women being more affected than men. 


Why does COVID-19 cause hair loss? 


Although there are several studies linking coronavirus and hair loss, many of the reports we hear about are anecdotal – at the moment, it’s too soon for scientists to officially establish a link between the two. 

However, the type of hair loss that COVID-19 sufferers are reporting seems to be consistent with telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium occurs when more hairs than usual suddenly enter the shedding phase of the hair growth cycle at once, causing a more noticeable amount of hair to shed at once. It’s normal to lose up to 150 hairs per day, but if you spot that you’re losing much more than that – such as clumps coming out when you’re brushing or washing your hair – it could be telogen effluvium. 

Due to the length of the hair cycle, telogen effluvium typically occurs two or three months after a period of significant stress, which can include illnesses such as COVID-19. When undergoing stressful situations, the body puts all its resources into maintaining essential functions only – which, unsurprisingly, does not include hair growth. As a result, you end up with hair loss. 

However, several other conditions can cause hair loss – such as thyroid issues or nutritional deficiencies – so if you are concerned, visit your GP, who can rule out other underlying causes with a simple blood test. 


Will my hair grow back after having COVID? 


If the hair loss is the result of telogen effluvium, most people will find that the hair will eventually grow back without the need for treatment. Typically, once the trigger or stressor is removed, the hair will grow back on its own. 

If you notice that the hair loss is persisting, there are a number of medical, cosmetic and hair transplant treatments available to help – Crown Clinic offers a range of options to support those struggling with hair loss, so don’t hesitate to get in touch

When performed by a qualified, experienced hair transplant surgeon, hair transplants are a very safe procedure. Hair restoration is a minimally invasive treatment that allows patients to return home the same day, with the procedure only requiring local anaesthetic. 

However, if you undergo a hair transplant abroad – such as in Turkey – the risk attached is much higher. 


Risks of hair transplants in Turkey 


It’s no secret that undergoing hair transplant surgery in countries such as Turkey is a gamble. Every year, countless patients are reeled in by the low prices and package deals offered by overseas clinics. Many of the clinics boast ‘five-star’ ratings and an active social media presence, duping unsuspecting patients into thinking they are visiting a reputable clinic. Although, when you dig a little deeper, you may discover the reviews are faked and the ‘after’ pictures are heavily edited or taken from other clinics. 

Another trick that patients fall for is believing that a surgeon will be carrying out the procedure, as many of the clinics advertise that a surgeon leads them to convince patients that they are legitimate. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean a surgeon will be carrying out the hair transplant itself. In fact, many clinics hire under-qualified technicians with little training to keep the costs down, only seeking the supervision of a surgeon if the procedure goes wrong. 

Over the years, Crown Clinic has fixed countless botched hair transplants, mainly from overseas clinics. The most common problems that we see are unnatural-looking hairlines and unsightly scarring as the result of the surgery being carried out by unlicensed practitioners. Other risks are infections, as sanitation is often extremely poor at the clinics and damage to the scalp due to the result of the incorrect tools being used to carry out the surgery. 


Are there any side effects to having a hair transplant? 


If you choose to have a hair transplant in the UK with a reputable surgeon, side effects will be minimal. The hygiene standards will be incredibly high, meaning the risk of infection is negligible, and you will be given clear instructions on how to take care of your scalp after the procedure. Crown Clinic has an excellent aftercare service, offering a day-by-day guide to ensure optimum healing and results.  

Unlike at overseas clinics, where it can be impossible to follow up after the procedure to discuss any concerns related to your hair transplant, Crown Clinic is more than happy to answer any questions you may have during this phase.