Guide to hair transplants
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 one of our most famous patients, Calum Best.
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.
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.