Crown Clinic Guide to Hair Transplants

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Guide to hair transplants 

We are often asked by patients to give a basic guide to hair transplants at Crown Clinic.

This guide from our surgeon Asim Shahmalak below covers all the key questions about the two main procedures – FUT and FUE – about cost, effectiveness and when your hair will start looking better. We have also included some before and after pictures of our of our most famous patients, Calum Best.

The prep

I have a 30-minute consultation with every patient to check they are suitable for a hair transplant. The procedure is most effective in the early to middling stages of MPB (male pattern baldness). Leave it too late and there is a limit to what I can do – there will simply be too big a bald area for me to cover.
Most men are suitable for hair transplants but not all. Patients with alopecia, for instance, are normally ruled out.
Virtually all men have a permanent horseshoe-shaped ring of hair at the back and sides of their scalp which stays with them for life, regardless of the extent of MPB elsewhere. It is this area which is used to harvest the hair follicles for transplants which are then moved to the balding areas. Transplanted hair lasts for life and will not fall out as a man gets older.
The only other prep a man needs to do beyond the initial consultation is not to shave his hair too short before the procedure. Unless you work from home, it is normally a good idea to book a week off from work if you are having a procedure because there will be some scarring or swelling which lasts for a week to ten days
Operations are done under a local anaesthetic and nearly all patients are free to go home on the same day as the procedure. More extensive hair transplants, where large numbers of hair follicles are transplanted on men with extensive MPB, can take two days.
Apart from the scarring, you'll feel fine the day after a procedure.

The operation

There are two types of hair transplant procedure available.

1 Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT), or strip harvesting, is the technique favoured by Crown Clinic patient Christian Jessen and is our most popular procedure.

A strip of hair is removed from the back or side of the scalp. FUT allows the surgeon to safely transplant thousands of hair grafts in a single session, which maximizes the cosmetic impact of the procedure.

The strip is removed surgically under local anaesthetic. There can be some minimal scarring at the back of the scalp following the removal of the strip. For this reason FUT may not be appropriate for men who like to wear their hair shaved or very short because the scar may be visible following the procedure.
If men wear their hair a little longer, the scar tends to be hidden.
Christian Jessen has had two FUT procedures. There is virtually no scarring visible at the back of his scalp from the two procedures because he wears his hair longer.

A typical FUT procedure will cost around £6,000.

2 Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) is where individual follicular units are extracted from the back or side of a patient’s scalp and transplanted into the balding area. This was the technique used for the footballer Wayne Rooney’s hair transplant. Crown Clinic patients Calum Best and the BBC1 property presenter Martin Roberts both had the FUE procedures.
It is more expensive than FUT – at roughly twice the cost. This is because the procedure is much more labour-intensive.
Each hair follicle needs to be removed individually.
The advantages are that no strip is taken from the back of the scalp so scarring is minimal. Most patients have some red spots in the harvested area for a week to ten days after the procedure – which then go away.
FUE is more appropriate for men who like to wear their hair short or shaved because of the scarring caused by FUT.

A typical FUE procedure will cost around £8,000.


We advise most patients to take a week off work if they are having a procedure. Most patients will have swelling following the operation which we control with steroids. If you don't take steroids you can end up with swelling around the face, as was experienced by Gordon Ramsay following a procedure in North America four years ago. There were some well-known pictures of Ramsay in the media with visible swelling around his face. He almost certainly would not have had this swelling if he had taken steroids.
For FUE procedures, patients will have red spots in the harvested area for a week to ten days but no longer in most cases.
FUT patients will have some scarring from where the initial 'strip' is removed from the back or side of the scalp – this scarring won't be visible in patients who do not wear their hair short.

Does the hair continue to grow?

It takes between six months to a year for the transplanted hair to fully grow back and look at its best. In the first few months, the transplanted hair can fall out while the new hair follicles become established in transplanted area.
Over the course of the first year following a hair transplant, all the transplanted hair grows back and patients  see an appreciable difference in the affected area after six months and can enjoy the full benefits of the procedure by 12 months.
Transplanted hair is permanent and will last for the rest of the patient's life. It grows in exactly the same way as it did when it was in another part of the scalp.

What kind of men do you have have coming to your surgery?

Four out of ten of men experience some kind of hair loss by the time they reach their forties. Our core clientele used to be men in that 40-55 age group. They are experiencing MPB and this affects their body confidence and possibly their careers, too.
They see a hair transplant as a pick-me-up in the same way women might have a boob job. It is amazing what restoring a man's hair can do to his whole outlook on life.
We treat lots of celebrities who tells us they need to keep their hair to look good in the media. A famous actor like James Nesbitt has said that, in having three hair transplants, he has secured acting roles he never would have got as a bald man.
Calum Best said that his MPB undermined him as a model and made it more difficult to get jobs.
In recent years we have seen increasing numbers of young men coming in for procedures. There has been a 25% increase in the 25-40 age group since Wayne Rooney had a his first procedure three years. Before then, a lot of men in this younger group simply didn't think a transplant was an option for them. Wayne Rooney changed all that.

Are men vainer than ever?

In a word: YES. And why not? Why should cosmetic procedures only be available to women.
The most obvious sign of this increased vanity is the fact that our booking is up by more than 40% in the last three years. Hair transplant technology has improved markedly over this period and increasing numbers of men are realising the procedure is the most effective way of combating ageing.
It is not just hair transplant men are seeking. Beard and sideburn transplants are growing in popularity – another sign that men are becoming vainer.
Could you imagine a man having a hair transplant in the 70s when hardmen like Clint Eastwood were the hunkiest role models?

Do you do beard transplants?

Yes. Around half the men in the UK cannot grow a 'full' beard like David Beckham or Hugh Jackman. Instead, they have patches in their beards or sideburns – meaning they have to spend their lives clean shaven when they long for the macho look of a full beard.
We can fill in those patches with a beard or sideburn transplant at Crown Clinic.
A beard or sideburn transplant works in just the same way as a hair transplant. Hair is harvested from the back or the side or the scalp and transplanted in the patches of the beard or sideburns.

How much is the procedure?

All costs are subject to consultation. As a guideline, FUE procedures cost around £5 her graft. In Calum Best's case, he had 1,200 grafts for his first hair transplant – so a cost of £6,000.
Prices for the cheaper FUT procedure start from around £4,000 for a full transplant.
Beard or sideburn transplants are usually around £4,000 but can be more if the patient needs a lot of grafts.

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.