Crown Clinic surgeon helps to rebuild lives of acid attack victims

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Women who suffered horrific acid attacks in Pakistan have had their faces rebuilt by a surgeon from a pioneering British clinic.
Hair transplant surgeon Asim Shahmalak spent £50,000 of his own money performing reconstructive surgery on six women who were disfigured – often for doing nothing more than spurning a man’s advances.
Dr Shahmalak said some of the victims were attacked with sulphuric acid which can be bought for as little as 15p a bottle on the back streets of Karachi where the women live.
He took a team from the Crown Clinic hair transplant centre he runs near Manchester Airport for the mercy mission.
He performed hair, eyebrow and eyelash transplants on the women – many of whom have been shunned by society and have struggled to find work.
Last week, the hero doctor, a father-of-two from Cheadle, Greater Manchester, travelled Karachi to meet the women and review all the surgery he had performed last year.

These remarkable pictures show how the women’s faces have been transformed – months on from the initial surgery and now that the new transplanted hair has grown back.

Later this year he is planning to return to Karachi again to work on five new cases of women who were also attacked with acid. 

He said: “There is so much more work to do. I am just glad that I am able to make a difference to these women’s lives.”

Kanwal Ashar, 24, had acid thrown over her by a man who had been stalking her after she had turned down his proposal.

She had been working in a beauty salon and the man became obsessed by her.
Dr Shahmalak gave her two new eyebrows and a right eyelash with hair transplanted for the back of her head in a series of intricate operations performed over three days.
She has struggled to find work since the attack four years ago and she hopes that the surgery will help to rebuild her life.
She told Dr Shahmalak: “I can go to a wedding now and show my face now I have got my eyebrows back. You have changed my life.”
Kanwal Qayum, 27, was doused in acid after telling a jealous former friend that she was starting a new job as an air hostess.
He attacked her in her sleep and she has previously had extensive surgery on her face and neck as she recovers from her wounds. She has also previously had eyebrows tattoed with ink on her face, but Dr Shahmalak gave her two permanent new eyebrows and a right eyebrow from hair harvested from the back of her scalp.

Asma Fayyaz, 23, was horrifically scarred three years ago after falling into a pan of boiling fat when she slipped in her kitchen.
She had a new right eyebrow and a right eyelash transplanted by Dr Shahmalak and the team from Crown Clinic.
Mona Bhatti, 42, showed off her two new eyebrows. She was shunned by Pakistani society after having a sex change operation. Born a man, she was splattered with acid while begging on the streets after changing sex to a woman.
Dr Shahmalak is one of only nine surgeons in the world qualified to do the kind of intricate eyelash and eyebrow transplants the women needed.
As well as carrying out the transplants, he helped trained local doctors and technicians in his techniques so that his work could carry on at local hospitals on his return to Britain.

He said: “It was wonderful to meet the women again and see how their lives had been improved by the surgery.
“I wept when I first heard what had happened to them.
“Their stories were heartbreaking – scarred for life because you want to better yourself and work as an hair hostess.
“Doused with acid because you turned down a man’s proposal – people were better treated in the Middle Ages.
“It was incredibly moving to see the smiles on their faces after we performed the surgery. They had given up hope of ever getting help because the Government in Pakistan cannot afford to do anything for them. We were their last hope.
“They are not accepted by society because of their disfigurement. They cannot get jobs and, in some case, they have been disowned by their families and left to beg on the streets.
“They are too frightened of reprisals to tell the police who has attacked them and even if they did, they have no faith that the culprits will be brought to justice.”
Dr Shahmalak, a skilled former NHS general surgeon, said that he had investigated the availability of sulphuric acid while he was in Karachi and found it could be bought for as little as 15p a bottle near to where he performed surgery on the women.
He said: “It easy to buy with no questions asked. And as long as the authorities turn a blind eye to horrific cases like these, the attacks will continue.”
Dr Shahmalak worked with the Karachi-based charity Smile Again which had found patients needing surgery.
One such case was a six-year-old girl doused with acid by her father for refusing to go to school who, sadly, was too young to help.
Dr Shahmalak is best know in the UK for his work with celebrities at his world-renowned transplant centre, Crown Clinic.
He has performed transplants on Christian Jessen from the TV medical show Embarrassing Bodies and the model Calum Best.
He performed the first eyelash transplant in the UK – on a Manchester woman back in 2009.

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.