Six questions you need to ask before having a hair transplant

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Having a hair transplant is a big decision and not one anyone should take lightly. A good procedure can transform a patient's life – improving their appearance, self confidence and even earning power.

There are six key questions anyone should answer before taking the plunge and booking a procedure.

1 Choice of surgeon

This is the most important decision you will make. The right surgeon can make a huge difference to the appearance of your new hair. There are a few small steps you can take to ensure that you pick the right surgeon. The most important consideration is actually meeting your surgeon face-to-face at the first consultation so you can properly plan what procedure is right for you. Lots of clinics in the UK and abroad have sales people as their first points of contact who are more interested in simply booking a fresh procedure than they are in the client's welfare. These types of clinics are to be avoided. Look for surgeon-run clinics such as Crown Clinic where all your needs will be addressed by the surgeon such as our consultant surgeon Asim Shahmalak from day one. You should check the clinic's website for testimonials – multiple, positive recent testimonials are a good sign that you are in good hands. Remember that all UK clinics are regulated by the Care Quality Commission – they can be closed down immediately if they do not meet stringent standards of care. Foreign clinics, particulary those in Turkey, do not face such vigorous regulation. Finally, you should look to see if you are surgeon is affialiated to a recognised medical body such as the BAHRS (British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery).

2 Type of procedure

There are two types of hair transplant procedure carried out by most clinics in the UK. The most popular is FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction), chosen by 80% of patients at Crown Clinic. This is where individual follicles are removed from the donor area on the back and sides of the scalp and replanted in the balding areas. The real skill in hair transplant surgery comes in this replanting. This is where the surgeon really shows their skill by blending the transplanted hair alongside the remaining natural hair for a really natural look. FUE has really grown in popularity in the last five years thanks to high profile celebrity hair transplant cases such as Calum Best from Crown Clinic, Wayne Rooney and other Crown Clinic celebrity patient such as Gogglebox star Chris Steed, soccer star Didi Hamann and Homes Under The Hammer presenter Martin Roberts. A key advantage of FUE is the post-operative scarring is almost invisible. Patients are left with red pin pricks in the donor area and where the new hair is transplanted but these go away after a few weeks.

The second most popular form of hair transplantation is FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation), also known as strip surgery. This is where a strip of skin is surgically removed from the back or side of the scalp to obtain the donor hair and then extracted from the skin under the microscope. The advantage of this method is all the donor hair is taken in one go.  It is less time consuming than FUE and therefore more affordable. Some research suggests that more follicles survive this kind of extraction than under FUE. High profile FUE Crown Clinic patients include the TV doctor Christian Jessen. The disadvantage of this method is the scarring from the removal of the strip is more noticeable than under FUE. If you wear your hair reasonably long like Christian the scar is not visible but FUT is not advisable to patients who like to wear their hair shaved or short.

3 Should I go abroad for a treatment?

You may well have seen that hair transplant procedures are cheaper in countries such as Turkey. But do you really want to take a risk on such an important decision on what could be a completely unregulated clinic. The main drawback of going abroad for a procedure is that patients have almost no recourse if the procedure goes wrong or they don't get the result they desired. Do you really want to start legal proceedings in a Turkish court and would you have the first idea about what to do? If you need further care from the surgeon, you will need to fly thousands of miles for a remedy which again may not work. It may be a little more expensive to have treatment in the UK but it is money very well spent.

4 Are there drugs I can take to improve my chances of keeping my natural hair?

Yes, there are. At Crown Clinic, our surgeon Asim Shahmalak prescribes two drugs which are clinically proven to halt or at least slow down hair loss in most patients. Dr Shahmalak often recommends using one of these drugs, Finasteride, in conjuction with a hair transplant procedure. Hair loss is a continual process but the use of Finasteride can completely halt or slow down the loss of natural hair. All the new transplanted hair is permant and should last the patient for the rest of their lives. However, they are in danger of losing more of their natural hair and that is why Finasteride (also known as Propecia) is necessary. Another drug Dr Shahmalak prescribes is Minoxidil, also clinically proven to combat pattern baldness. This is often applied as a mousse.

5 Will I need to take time off after my hair transplant procedure?

Most patients at Crown Clinic are in and out in a day. The procedure starts first thing in the morning and they can go home at the end of the working day – either with a lift from a friend or relative or by train or plane. We are handily placed right by Manchester Airport and its railway station and we don't recommend that patients drive themselves home after a procedure because they could still be feely groggy from the anaesthetic. We recommend that patients take a week off work after a procedure. This allows for the scarring to go down and means they can maintain an optimum environment while the new hair beds in. You should sleep slightlyupright in the first few days after a procedure to protect the new hair. Patients should avoid using a pullover which can dislodge the transplanted hair – wearing a button up shirt instead. Vigorous exercise such as going to the gym should be avoided for the first week. But other than that patients can live their lives normally.

6 Will I need more than one hair transplant?

No two patients are the same. A high profile celebrity patient such as Wayne Rooney, who first experienced male pattern baldness in his late teens and whose has a strong family history of hair loss (his father is almost completely bald) was always going to need more than one procedure after having his first hair transplant at 25. There is some research to suggest that a drug such as Finasteride may make a footballer like Wayne less aggressive on the pitch – so that may have put him off combining his procedures with a medical remedy.

If your hair loss happens at a more advanced age – in your 40s or 50s or even 60s – there is every chance that one procedure will be sufficient. The way to help ensure that you do not need further treatment is by taking the clinically proven medical remedies. Most patients at Crown Clinic are happy with a single procedure. 

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.