Dr Asim Shahmalak from Crown Clinic is one of the world’s leading hair transplant surgeons.
He is the surgeon to the stars and has performed procedures for celebrities including Jack P Shepherd from Coronation Street, the model Calum Best and the TV doctor Christian Jessen.
He has pioneered new hair transplant procedures in the UK such as eyelash, eyebrow, beard and sideburn transplants.
His main clinic is close to Manchester Airport and he also has consulting rooms in Harley Street.
A former general surgeon in the NHS, he switched to hair transplantation private practice 15 years ago and is one of the most acclaimed surgeons globally in FUE (follicular unit extraction) and FUT (follicular unit transplantation) hair transplant procedures
Are more women enquiring about hair transplants/procedures/treatments and if so why? Is demand growing?
Asim Shahmalak said: “Yes, more women are enquiring about hair transplants. They are still far outnumbered by men but around 10% of my patients are female.
“Most of them come because they have permanent thinning hair and this can be even more damaging to a woman’s self-esteem than a man’s simply because it is more unexpected and it can have a devastating impact on a woman’s confidence.
“I also treat increasing numbers of women for eyebrow and eyelash transplants. Most eyebrow transplants are down to women permanently damaging their brows due to over-plucking. Hair is transplanted from the scalp and replanted in the brows.
“I also do eyelash transplants on women. I was the first surgeon in the UK to perform an eyelash transplant here – way back in 2007 on a young woman from Greater Manchester. Most eyelash transplant patients seek treatment after suffering from trichotillomania – a condition where sufferers rip out their eyelashes due to psychological issues. Hair is extracted from the scalp and replanted in the upper eyelid. Because it is scalp hair, it goes as it would on the scalp when replanted in the eyelid so it can curl when longer and needs to be straightened. I provide kits so patients can do this themselves.
“Demand is growing for general female hair transplants. The reason for this is greater awareness that hair transplantation is the only long term solution to permanent hair loss in women.
“There is also a lot of concern about hair extensions and the damage they can cause to the scalp. Women can wreck their hair with hair extensions which can pull out their natural hair and cause permanent damage to the scalp.
“Lots of women have seen successful male transplant patients such as Calum Best or Jack P Shepherd and thought, ‘That could work for me, too.’”
Why have women been slower than men to enquire about hair procedures?
Asim Shahmalak said: “I think women have been slower than men to enquire about hair transplants in the past because they thought that hair transplants were a ‘man thing.’ You didn’t read about women having procedures and there was this assumption that while women could benefit in lots of ways through plastic surgery – breast enhancements or browlifts or facelifts – hair transplantation was not for them. One of the reasons is that a lot of female hair loss is hormonal and non-permanent. The hair eventually grows back and so hair transplantation is not necessary.
“However, a significant number of women do suffer permanent hair loss for a number of reasons including the same hereditary reasons which is the main factor in men going bald. A receding hairline at the front ages a woman far more quickly than a similar condition in men. You expect some women in their eighties or nineties to have thinning hair, but not in their forties or fifties. It is those younger middle aged women who are coming to me for help in increasing numbers.”
Are more younger women enquiring about hair transplants/procedures/treatments and if so why?
Asim Shahmalak said: “Yes, more young women are inquiring about treatments and there is a simple reason: vanity. In the age of social media, where we can all enhance our appearance with photographic filters, a hair transplant is like having a permanent positive filter on your hair. You can wave goodbye to bad hair days and have the hair you have always wanted every day.
“So many young people want to look their best when sharing pictures on Facebook and Instagram and come to me for procedures which will improve their self confidence and how they present themselves to their friends and the world on social platforms.”
Are more women going through the menopause enquiring about hair transplants/procedures/treatments and if so why?
Asim said: “Menopause is a natural physiological process that all women experience at some point in their lives. During this time, the body goes through numerous physical changes as it adjusts to fluctuating hormone levels. Many women have unpleasant symptoms during menopause, including hot flashes, mood swings, and insomnia. Hair loss is another common occurrence.
“Hair loss tends to be subtler in women than it is in men. Most women experience overall hair thinning rather than noticeable bald spots. The thinning can occur on the front, sides, or top of the head. Hair may also fall out in large clumps during brushing and showering.
“Research suggests that hair loss during menopause is the result of a hormonal imbalance. Specifically, it’s related to a lowered production of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones help hair grow faster and stay on the head for longer periods of time. When the levels of estrogen and progesterone drop, hair grows more slowly and becomes much thinner. A decrease in these hormones also triggers an increase in the production of androgens, or a group of male hormones. Androgens shrink hair follicles, resulting in hair loss on the head. In some cases, however, these hormones can cause more hair to grow on the face. This is why some menopausal women develop facial “peach fuzz” and small sprouts of hair on the chin.
“For women going through menopause, the cause of hair loss is almost always related to hormonal changes. However, there are many other factors that can contribute to hair loss during menopause. These include extremely high levels of stress, illness, or a lack of certain nutrients. Diagnostic blood tests that can help rule out other causes of hair loss include thyroid tests, and/or a complete blood count.
“Hair loss may make you feel self-conscious about your physical appearance, but the condition isn’t permanent in most cases. Obviously where it is non-permanent a hair transplant is not appropriate.
“However in some cases the hair loss is permanent and a hair transplant is appropriate. We have seen growing number of post-menopausal women seeking help for the same reasons of vanity that attract younger women to the clinic.”
Do you have any concerns about the hair transplant industry, particularly the popularity of going abroad?
Asim Shahmalak said: “I have great concerns about the numbers of patients of both sexes going to countries such as Turkey for hair transplant procedures.
“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.
“One of the main areas of my work is repair surgery. Patients come to me after having a terrible experience in a country such as Turkey and ask me to repair the damage. In most cases, I can help and sort out their problems but, in a few cases, nothing can be done and patients can severely damage their appearance by going to an unregulated ‘cowboy clinic’ abroad.
And I would be keen to know if you have any case studies of women who have had the procedure who would be able to tell me about their experience?
Asim Shahmalak said: “Most of my female patients would rather not be fully named and pictured when talking about their hair transplant procedures.
“But several have been so pleased with the results that they are okay to share pictures and their experiences in a way where they are not fully identified. Here are some of my very happy former female patients.”