Guide to male hair transplants – 10 key tips

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Crown Clinic’s surgeon Asim Shahmalak is often asked to provide simple guides to male hair transplantation. Here are the 10 key points to remember if you considering having a transplant based on the most common questions put to Dr Shahmalak. We do genuinely feel that hair transplans are the most transformative procedures that a man can have.

1 What procedures are available? There are two common procedures. Around 80% of patients at Crown Clinic choose the FUE (follicular unit extraction) technique used on celebrities such as Wayne Rooney and Crown Clinic’s patients, model Calum Best, Gogglebox star Chris Steed, football pundit Didi Hamann and Homes Under The Hammer presenter Martin Roberts.  Dr Shahmalak will revmove individual hair follicles from the back and sides of the scalp where the hair is strongest and most abundant – and move them to the balding areas. The other popular technique is FUT (follicular unit transplantation), used by around 20% of Crown Clinic patients including the TV doctor Christian Jessen. This involves surgically cutting a strip of skin from the back of the head with the hair follicles attached. This strip is put under a microscrope and the follicles are removed and separated by skilled technicians.

2 Advantages of FUE– the surgeon removes each follicle separately so scarring is minimal. This is a big advantage if you like to wear your hair short or shaved.

3 Scarring with FUT– yes, the scar is more visible than with FUE but it is very difficult to see if you wear your hair longer. It is an older technique and an effective one. Because all the follicles are removed at the same time there is less chance of them being damaged. 

4 Getting the best from your hair transplant– Dr Shahmalak sees all his patients personally to plan exactly which areas will be bolstered with the transplanted hair. He will look at the pattern of a patient’s hair loss to assess best how many grafts he will take and where they will be used to boost the hairline. There are a limited number of follicles that can be used for a transplant. Patients need to be realistic and not too greedy. While your hairline will be transformed, you may not get the hairline you had when you were a teenager. If the grafts are spread out too much, it doesn’t look right. Dr Shahmalak will create a good natural hairline which will takes years off your age.

5 What’s the operation like? This is performed under local anaesthetic. Most patients are pretty relaxed when the grafts are removed. Some are so chilled that they fall asleep while others watch DVDs. Once the follicles have been extracted either by FUT or FUE, the surgeon makes the holes for the patient’s new hairline. They need to be made in such a way that they follow the natural slant of the patient’s existing hair. This is where the skill of the surgeon really counts – the very best surgeons like Dr Shahmalak make the new hair look as natural as possible, perfectly blending with existing hair. 

6 How many follicles can be transplanted? Anywhere between 2,000 and up to 5,000 follicles in a single day.

7 Key aftercare tips – you need to treat your scalp with extreme care for the first couple of weeks following a hair transplant. At Crown Clinic we recommend that you wear a buttoned shirt rather than a sweater or a T-shirt because the act of taking off a pull-over or T-shirt can dislodge the new hairs. You need to be careful when you wash your new hair at first to make sure none of the tranpslanted hair comes out. Within two weeks, the new grafts are pretty solid and you can return to your normal routine. 

8 How long does it take to grow back? No two patients are the same but around 8 months. The new hair will fall out in the immediate aftermath of the operation. This is entirely normal – the important thing is that the new roots are established. From these, the new hair will grow back in time, but it can be 8 months and up to a year before your new hair transplant will look its best.

9 What can go wrong? There are fears that a patient’s grafts can end up looking like a doll with hair plugs – individual clumps of hair – creating an unnatural look. Certainly this was a valid worry 15 years ago when modern hair transplant techniques were still in their infancy. Such worries are no longer relevant.  Provided you do your research and go to the right surgeon – one with international recognition such as Crown Clinic’s Dr Shahmalak – you can get a natural-looking transplant.  

10 Why go to the trouble? Hair loss can have a damaging effect on a man’s self-esteem. Studies consistently show that men with a full head of hair are happier and more confident and this impacts on their personal relationships and even their earning power. 

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.