Five of the most common questions about hair transplants answered by our surgeon Asim Shahmalak

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Dr Asim Shahmalak, from Crown Clinic is one of the UK’s leading hair transplant surgeons. He is known as the surgeon to the stars through his work with Coronation Street star Jack P Shepherd, who plays David Platt in the soap, model Calum Best, TV doctor Christian Jessen, Homes Under the Hammer star Martin Roberts and Gogglebox star Chris Butland-Steed. Dr Shahmalak, who also has consulting rooms in Harley Street, was a general surgeon in the NHS before switching to private hair transplantation surgery 12 years ago when he opened his own clinic. As well as hair transplants, he also does more unusual procedures such as eyebrow, eyelash, beard and sideburn transplants. He was the first surgeon in the UK to perform an eyelash transplant – on a young woman from Greater Manchester 10 years ago.

1 What are the different types?

Dr Shahmalak said: “There are two different types of hair transplant for men and women – FUE and FUT.

FUE (follicular unit extraction) is the most popular and the one is chosen by around 80% of the patients at my clinic – Crown Clinic in Manchester.

With FUE, individual follicles are removed from the back and side of the scalp and then re-planted by the surgeon on the balding areas on the top of the scalp. The advantage of this method is that the scarring is minimal. Patients have small scabs where the hair is extracted and replanted which tend to heal after two weeks. FUE is particularly suitable for patients who liked to wear their hair short or shaved because the scarring is not particularly noticeable. Most stars have FUE for their transplants: my patients Jack P Shepherd, David Platt from Coronation Street, Calum Best and other big names such as Wayne Rooney.

FUT (follicular unit transplantation) is the more traditional method. The donor hair is obtained by surgically removing a strip of skin from the back or side of the scalp. From this strip, the donor follicles are extracted under a microscope and then replanted in the balding areas in the same way as FUE. Patients are left with a lined scar on the scalp which is not noticeable if they like to wear their hair relatively long. The TV doctor Christian Jessen has had two FUT procedures with me. FUT is less labour than FUE so it is slightly cheaper.

“FUE has gradually taken over in popularity from FUT in the last five years, thanks in large part because of FUE’s popularity with celebrity clients. Lots more men are wearing their hair very short or completely shaved at the back and sides and FUE is more suitable for those hair styles.

“As well as these conventional transplant procedures, other more unusual methods are also available using the same techniques.

“I am one of the few hair transplant surgeons in the world to perform eyelash transplants – most commonly on women who have naturally thin eyelashes or have damaged their eyelashes through the use of stick-on false eyelashes. The donor hair is extracted from the scalp in the same way through FUE or FUT and then sewn into the upper eyelid. It won’t work on the lower eyelid. Because head hair is extracted, it grows in the same way as head hair, so these new eyelashes need curling (to blend in with existing lashes) and trimming.

“Patients can also have eyebrow transplants – most commonly women who have damaged their eyebrows by overplucking. It works in much the same way as the eyelash transplant and again the transplanted hair needs trimming.

“Finally, I do beard and sideburn transplants for men who have thin beards – a surprisingly high number of men have this problem. It means they can grow a full beard without any gaps.”

2 How does each procedure work?

Dr Shahmalak said: “FUE takes around six to seven hours. Most patients start their surgery in the morning and are ready to go home the same day.

“The donor area at the back of the scalp is numbed with anaesthetic and then the donor follicles are removed individually, leaving small red scars where the hair is attracted.

“We typically extract around 1,500 follicles which amounts to around 3,000 hairs (because there is more than one hair in each follicle root). These are then replanted in the balding areas, again leaving small red scars which heal in around two weeks and just drop off like any scab.

“I advise most patients to take a week off work to allow for recovering after surgery.

“The procedure is relatively pain-free and most patients watch films on DVD during the extraction and replanting process. Some are so relaxed they fall asleep.

“Patients have to sleep with pillows propping up their back for the first couple of nights after the procedure so they don’t dislodge any of the transplanted hair. They should avoid strenuous exercise for at least week. But most patients feel as right as rain the day after the procedure and can lead normal lives while they wait for the scars to heal.

“My client Jack P Shepherd from Coronation Street was back filming the show two weeks after the transplant with viewers unaware that he had the surgery. That shows how quickly the scars heal.

“It takes up to a year for the transplanted hair to grow back so patients need to be patient – you don’t get an instant overnight transformation.

“FUT is a little quicker than FUE because the extraction of the donor hair is quicker – so the whole procedure takes around five hours. Scarring heals a little more slowly than FUE because a strip of skin is removed from the patient to obtain the donor hair rather than individual follicles.

“Eyelash, eyebrow and beard transplants take even less time – around four hours – because fewer donor hairs need to be extracted as you are covering a smaller bald area.

3 What are the benefits of using one over the other?

Dr Shahmalak said: “Around 80% of my patients chose FUE because the scarring is minimal and they would rather the donor hair was extracted individually rather all in one go with the removal of a strip of skin.

“FUE patients can wear their head short or shaved following a procedure without the scars being visible. It is why this procedure is so popular with celebrities.

“It is more expensive as a result because the extraction of the donor hair is more labour intensive.

“Around 20% of my patients still chose FUT – partly because it is cheaper than FUE. The scar from the removal of the strip of skin for the donor hair is noticeable but not if you wear your hair longer. There is some evidence to suggest that slightly fewer follicles survive extraction by being removed in a strip rather than individually, though I find that FUE is a highly effective form of hair transplantation and it has gradually taken over from FUT.”

4 Why might a hair transplant be needed?

Dr Shahmalak said: “A hair transplant is needed because the vast majority of men will experience hair loss at some point in their lives.

By the age of 30, around 40% of men will be losing their hair, this figure rises to half of men by the age of 40 and 60% of men by 50 onwards.

“As my patient Jack P Shepherd explained, a hair transplant is like the male equivalent of a boob job – it is a quick fix cosmetic procedure which will make a huge difference to their appearance. It can make men looks years younger and research shows that, as well as improving their self-confidence, it can also enhance their career prospects. There is a body of research pointing to the fact that men with a full head of hair earn more than those who are bald.

“But the main benefit is just to look and feel better. You can transform your life for the same cost as changing your car.

“We should not forget that 40% of women also experience hair loss in their lives. For many this is temporary – post-pregnancy or during menopause. However, a significant number of women have naturally thin hair or experience permanent hair loss and can benefit from the same procedures as men. About 10% of my patients are women.”

5 How does he think he has helped patients?

Dr Shahmalak said: “You only have to look at the experiences of my celebrity patients to see how hair transplants can help patients. They all say they look years younger and they are frank enough to admit that restoring their balding locks has benefited their careers. Their income depends on them looking good and they are to be congratulated on going public with their procedures and showing to millions of men how this simple procedure can transform their lives. Please read my testimonials to see what a difference I have made to patients’ lives.”

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.

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Spurs manager Antonio Conte is one of a number of people in football who have benefitted from a hair transplant.

Another is the Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who has been very open about seeking help with his hair.

Conte, 52, looks completely different in the before and after pictures shown on this page and is likely to have had several procedures to boost his hair.

Like a lot of men, Conte started losing his hair in his late 20s and early 30s when he was a successful player in the Italian league and playing for the Italian national team.

He was pictured several times during this time showing all the signs of advanced male pattern baldness.

Since becoming such a successful manager, Conte has had at least two hair transplants to cover up the bald areas at the front of his hairline.

It is likely he would have opted for a FUE (follicular unit extraction) procedure. This is where the grafts are removed individually from the back and sides of the scalp and then replanted in the balding areas.

Around 80% of patients coming to Crown Clinic to our consultant surgeon Asim Shahmalak now opt for FUE.

This is a big change on five years ago when the majority of our patients chose the more traditional method of hair transplantation known as FUT (follicular unit transplantation) or strip surgery.

The advantage of FUE over FUT is that there is less scarring. Most FUE patients are simply left with some red pin pricks where the donor hair is harvested and replanted which go away after a few weeks.

Famous Crown Clinic FUE patients include the Coronation Street star Jack P Shepherd, model Calum Best, and the football pundit Didi Hamann.

FUE is slightly more expensive than FUE because it requires more time to carry out. This is because the donor grafts are removed individually rather in one single strip of skin which is surgically removed, which is what happens under FUT.

Crown Clinic’s most famous FUT patient is the TV doctor Christian Jessen who has had two FUT transplants with Dr Shahmalak. Scarring is greater with FUT and all patients are left with a lined scar on the scalp where the strip for the donor hair is removed. This soon heals and if you wear your hair relatively long, like Christian Jessen, it is very difficult to see the scar because the hair grows over it. However, the scar is visible if you like to wear your hair short or shaved, like Calum Best, so we recommend FUE for all patients who like their hair short. Around 20% of Crown Clinic patients still prefer FUT. There is evidence to show that slightly few grafts are lost in the donor hair harvesting process by removing the grafts in one go – so that is an advantage of FUT.

Conte has not spoken about his hair transplants, so we don’t know for sure which method he chose.

Whichever one it was, he is to be congratulated on his choice and the work of his hair transplant surgeon because he has an excellent result.

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.”

He maybe the world’s richest man, but all those riches could not save Elon Musk’s hair.
That is why the founder of the Tesla car company transformed his appearance with a hair transplant.
You can see the remarkable change in his appearance in the before and after pictures below.

His hair is clearly thinning at the front in the before picture on the left, taken in his 20s.

Fast forward more than 20 years and the 50-year-old Musk has a full head of hair in the after picture on the right.

Musk will almost certainly have had a Follicular Unit Extraction transplant – chosen by 80% of the patients at Crown Clinic.

With FUE, the donor hair is extracted individually from the back and sides of the scalp – keeping any scarring to a minimum.

Celebrity patients of our consultant hair transplant surgeon Dr Asim Shahmalak who have had FUE transplants include Jack P Shepherd from Coronation Street, the footballer Didi Hamann and the model Calum Best.

Dr Shahmalak also offers the more traditional method of hair transplantation, FUT – follicular unit transplantation.

With FUT, all the donor hair is removed in one go by surgically cutting a strip of skin from the scalp. The donor grafts are then extracted from the strip by technicians and replanted in the balding areas of the scalp by Dr Shahmalak in the same way as FUE.

The TV doctor Christian Jessen has had two FUT transplants at Crown Clinic with Dr Shahmalak. We don’t recommend FUT for patients who like to wear their hair short or shaved because the scarring is more noticeable than FUE. If you grow your hair slightly longer, as Christian Jessen does, the scarring cannot be seen.

Whatever method he chose, Elon Musk is to be congratulated on his transplant – his new hair looks fantastic.