Dr Asim Shahmalak answers 8 questions about his work as a hair transplant surgeon at Crown Clinic

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The most important decision any patient makes when deciding to have a hair transplant is their choice of surgeon.

Here at Crown Clinic we have one of the world's best in Dr Asim Shahmalak who worked a general surgeon in the NHS before switching to a career in hair transplantation in 2006.

Your surgeon can make all the difference in creating a wonderful, natural look in your hair transplant.

He or she will choose exactly where to replant the donor hair, ensuring it blends in perfectly with the natural hair.

Good surgeons are hard to find, particularly if you travel to cheaper, unregulated foreign clinics in countries such as Turkey.

Dr Shahmalak is an expert at the two hair transplant procedures performed at Crown Clinic – FUE (follicular unit extraction) and FUT (follicular unit transplantation).

He also performs more unusual procedures such as eyebrow, eyelash, beard and sideburn transplants.

He is well known for his work with celebrity clients such as Coronation Street star Jack P Shepherd (David Platt in Corrie), model Calum Best, Homes Under The Hammer presenter Martin Roberts and the soccer pundit Didi Hamann, who all had FUE procedures at Crown Clinic.

The TV doctor Christian Jessen had two FUT procedures with Dr Shahmalak. 

What made you get into this line of work?

I worked for many years as a general surgeon in the NHS but I was keen to branch out and specialise in hair transplantation. It is so rewarding to see how men and women's lives can be transformed through a successful procedure. As well as hair transplants, I do more unusual procedure such as eyebrow, eyelash and beard and sideburn transplants. I performed the UK's very first eyelash transplant on a young woman from Greater Manchester in 2009. 

How long have you been doing it?

I set up Crown Clinic in 2007 in Manchester.  We are one of the world's leading hair transplantation centres and we have a brand new clinic with the best equipment very close to Manchester Airport in Bailey Lane, M90. I have been working in hair transplantation since 2006. Before that, I was a general surgeon for almost 20 years – working first in Ireland before switching to the NHS. 

How did you get the job? 

I got my first job as a doctor after leaving medical school. I was keen to study medicine because it is the most rewarding job in the world. I have always had a passion for it and I think that has come across in all the interviews I've had over the years.

Give us a two sentence summary of what your job involves?

Providing the very best hair transplantation for men and women suffering from hair loss. The procedures can significantly boost a patient's self-esteem and well-being. 

What do you love about your job?

The ability to make a tangible difference to my patients' lives with a relatively straight-forward procedure. Calum Best said that he felt five years younger after having hair transplants with me. I do a lot of charity work and have travelled to Pakistan to perform free hair, eyebrow and eyelash transplants for the victims of acid attacks.

And what do you hate about your job?

It was very upsetting to hear some of the stories from the patients I helped in Pakistan. There were women horrifically scarred for life because they had turned down a man's marriage proposal. The police did nothing and the acid could be bought for as little as 15p a bottle. A TV crew from Granada travelled to Pakistan to film their stories an. It was the most professionally satisfying project I have ever been involved with. 

What qualifications, skills and personal qualities do you need for the job? 

You need to be a fully qualified doctor before you can run a hair transplant clinic. I had extensive training in hair transplantation after previously working as a general surgeon. Hair transplantation is highly technical – the transplanted grafts need to be placed in a way that blends with the existing hair. That is all down to the skill of the individual surgeon. For personal qualities, you need to be a good listener and to love people. 

Any advice for those wishing to join the profession?

Only do it if you are passionate about helping people and really keen to make a difference. 

 

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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.