How my life was transformed by a hair transplant with Crown Clinic’s Asim Shahmalak

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A high-flying magazine editor who partied with stars such as Madonna and Kylie Minogue has told how he overcame crippling low self-esteem with a hair transplant by Crown Clinic's Asim Shahmalak.
Darren Scott spent his working life mixing with the A-list stars who graced the pages of Gay Times, the magazine he edited for almost a decade.
But behind the party smiles he was a hiding a secret agony over his thinning hair which he disguised with a hat in pictures with his favourite celebrities.
The bald patch around his crown grew so much he was jokingly called 'Friar Tuck' by friends at work where he was under pressure to stay looking young.
Darren, 42, turned his life around with the same hair transplant procedure as Wayne Rooney from the stars' favourite surgeon, Asim Shahmalak.
He had 2,000 hairs transplanted into the temples at the side of his scalp, his hairline and right across his bald crown.
A year on, and with the transplanted hair fully grown back, he now has a full head of hair again and says: “It's been an absolute life changer. I look five years younger.”
Darren explained: “I turned 40 and I had recently split up from a long term relationship.
“I was in a job that’s perceived to be glamorous where I was mixing with stars like Madonna and there was a pressure on me to look good, but I was losing my hair fast and having to wear a hat all the time to cover up my baldness.
“I guess you could say I was having a mid-life crisis.
“I didn't realise at the time just how much my baldness was contributing to my lack of self-confidence but I knew it was a factor.
''I was partying with all these A-list stars while worrying about my thinning hair.
“I knew I needed to do something drastic to kick-start my life and I had hair transplanted to all my bald spots by Dr Shahmalak.
“It has been amazing watching the new hair grow back over the last year and now I finally have a full head of hair again.
“I can go out and meet my favourite stars without wearing a hat,” he joked. “In fact, I do need to wear a hat when I’m walking my dog because my hair is so big and it helps to keep it all in one place!”
Darren had a follicular unit extraction (FUE) procedure with Dr Shahmalak at Crown Clinic in Manchester.
It is the method used by stars such as Rooney, model Calum Best and Gogglebox star Chris Butland-Steed.
Hair grafts are taken from the back and side of the scalp and replanted in the balding areas by Dr Shahmalak
The advantage of this method is the scarring is minimal with patients having some red pin pricks  
from where the hair is extracted and replanted which go away after a few days.
Darren said: “I was worried about the pain but the operation was fine. I was joking with staff while watching Bad Girls on video on a giant screen.
“The new hair grew back gradually over the year and by the end of it I had the full head of hair I hadn't had since I was a teenager.
“I didn't realise just how much I was lacking in confidence till I had hair again and I felt so much better.”
Darren, from Hackney, East London, had first started losing his hair in his early 20s – first from his hairline and then his crown – just as he embarking on a career in journalism.
He was a big success at work and eight years ago landed his dream job as editor of one of Britain's biggest gay titles, Gay Times, which gave him access to all his favourite A-list stars.
Darren said: “I suppose it was a very glamorous world. I was under pressure the whole time to look good. Some people may disagree but there can often be an obsession in the gay community with youth and I was conscious that I only had a limited shelf life in a role like that.
“You can also be under pressure to have a buff body. I had a 'Dad Body' and 'Grandad Hair'. The body I’m fine with, but I felt the hair maybe aged me in such a high profile role.
“I would be pictured with one of my favourite stars and I would ask a friend to photoshop some hair on to my picture so I would look better before sharing the picture on social media.
“Even then, people would joke about my bald spot and call me Friar Tuck. I resorted to wearing hats all the time to cover it up or I would grow my hair long and then comb it over my bald spots – but that just looked awful!
“Gay men losing their hair often shave their heads but that was never for me. I wanted to have a regular head of hair, never mind actually wear my hair long.
“The only solution for me was having a transplant and I am so glad that I did. The techniques have improved so much and the transplanted hair blends naturally with your existing hair. The new transplanted hair will last for the rest of my life.”
Darren left his job at Gay Times in the autumn but he is still partying with the stars in his new role as a TV editor, and loving his new lease of life.
Dr Shahmalak has seen a 25% rise in patients at Crown Clinic – in part due to the 'Rooney effect' with increasing numbers of young men following their favourite stars in having a transplant.
He said: “Darren has got a great result and it is especially satisfying to hear how his new hair has boosted his self-confidence. It is no exaggeration to say that a hair transplant can completely transform your life. There has been an explosion in popularity for transplants, thanks to all the celebrities who are publicising their own efforts to improve their hair.
“A star like Wayne Rooney makes millions through his image rights. I am not sure he would be so attractive to big sponsors if he was bald.”

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.