5 things you need to know before having a hair transplant

There has been a surge in men having hair transplants in the UK in the last five years.

Inspired by well known celebrities such as Coronation Street star Jack P Shepherd and model Calum Best transforming their looks – and looking years younger as a result – increasing numbers of men are seeking hair transplants to cure their baldness.

This trend is particularly prevalent amongst young men. Whereas before, men would typically wait till their mid-30s or 40s before seeking help, they are now contacting surgeons such as Crown Clinic’s consultant Asim Shahmalak far earlier.

Dr Shahmalak won’t operate on any man before the age of 25 – the earliest a man’s pattern of baldness can be established – but he has been seeing lots more patients in their mid-20s and above in the last five years.

Men are working out that the earlier they seek help, the longer they will benefit from having thicker hair. They will look better for longer and studies have shown than a hair transplant can benefit men in all sorts of ways – not just their appearance but their body confidence and even their earning potential.

Dr Shahmalak has operating normally at Crown Clinic for the last six weeks after shutting for the first couple of months of lockdown. There are sensible measures in place to ensure surgery is 100% safe and in accordance with Government guidelines. Here are 5 things you need to know if you are considering a hair transplant at this time.

1 Choose the right surgeon

Your choice of surgeon is the most important consideration. Make sure you pick a doctor-run clinic where the surgeon is in charge of the procedure from start to finish.

Some disreputable clinics are run by sales staff who are only interested in your money and not your clinical welfare. Dr Shahmalak will turn down any patients he does not feel will benefit from a procedure.

The real skill with a hair transplant is in the replanting of the donor hairs. A master like Dr Shahmalak will seamlessly blend the new hair into the existing hairline so that no one would ever know you have had a hair transplant – they will just know that your hair looks 100% better.

2 Types of hair transplantation

There are two methods of hair transplantation – FUE (follicular unit extraction) and FUT (follicular unit transplantation). With FUE, donor hairs are removed individually from the back and side of the scalp before replanting. Famous Crown Clinic FUE patients include Jack P Shepherd, Calum Best, former footballer Didi Hamann and Homes Under The Hammer presenter Martin Roberts. With FUT, a strip of skin is surgically removed from the back of the scalp to obtain the donor hair and then it is replanted in the same way as FUE. Around 80% of Crown Clinic patients chose FUE and 20% chose FUT. Crown Clinic’s famous FUT patient is the TV doctor Christian Jessen, who has had two FUT transplants with Dr Shahmalak.

3 Is the procedure painful?

As with all surgical operations, there is some mild discomfort – the prick from the anaesthetic for instance – but most patients do not report feeling pain. Most people relax during the procedure by watching a movie on the screen we have in our main operating theatre. Some patients are so relaxed they fall asleep during the procedure.

4 How long does it take for the new hair to fully grow back?

It takes between 9 months and a whole year for a patient to see the full benefits of a transplant. Straight after the operation the donor hairs will fall out. This is entirely normal. What is important is that the roots of the new hair have become established in their new home. After several weeks the new hair starts growing back and patients can start seeing the improvements from about four months onwards.

5 Are there any side effects?

It is important to note that hair transplantation is an invasive surgery that could leave some scars. This is more noticeable with FUT surgery where the strip of skin is removed to obtain donor hair. We do not recommend FUT for patients who like to wear their hair short or shaved. FUE is more suitable for this group because of the scarring. With FUT, if you wear your hair reasonably long, it will easily cover up the scarring.