The big movie hit of the summer so far has been the Elton John biogpic, Rocket Man.
The movie deals honestly with the singer’s battle with hair loss which dates back right to the start of his career in the early 1970s.
Throughout the story, friends, lovers and family members mention how his hair loss is speeding up.
As a boy, Elton, then still with a full head of hair, dreamed of being Britian’s answer to Elvis Presely with the same elaborate quiff.
His mum – aware of the strong baldness gene running through the family – told him to enjoy his hair while he could because, by the time he was 20, he would be as ‘bald as an egg.’
The film makes no secret of the fact that Elton often got stressed about his hair.
Pictures of Elton throughout his career show his aggressive male pattern baldness.
Throughout the 1970s his hair got thinner and thinner until he started to display increased growth sometime in the mid-80s.
Elton has a glorious full head of hair these days – and has done for a number of years.
So what has brought about this transformation?
Crown Clinic’s consultant hair transplant surgeon Asim Shahmalak has been sifting through the evidence including some of Elton’s own comments about the remedies he has used.
As far back as 1978, at the age of 30, Elton confirmd that he had undergone two hair transplants on his scalp.
He blamed constantly dying his hair for his hair loss – “messing around with my hair – pink, green, orange dyes.”
He said he’d had the procedures for reasons of “a hundred percent vanity,” adding: “I’ll just be grateful if it grows.”
The surgery was combined with a new healthy lifestyle – no junk food or booze.
Dr Shahmalak explained that hair transplantation was in its very early stages back in the late 70s.
Elton would have almost certainly have had two FUT transplants (follicular unit transplantation).
This traditional method is still used today and is highly effective.
Donor hair is obtained from the back or sides of the scalp by surgically cutting out a strip of skin and removing the hair grafts individually under the microscope.
These are then expertly planted in the balding areas by the surgeon.
In its early days, FUE was not as successful as it is now and some patients complained of the transplant looking like doll’s hair – with clumps of hair transplanted together, giving an unnatural look.
Techniques have improved appreciably since then and masters of the art such as Dr Shahmalak can seamlessly blend transplanted hair alongside existing natural hair so you cannot see the join.
Many experts believe that Elton started wearing a hairpiece in the 1980s because his hair loss was so rapid and the transplants would not have fully covered up his bald patches.
There is a strong likelihood that Elton has had further surgery since the 1980s.
Most stars opt for the more modern hair transplant technique, FUE (follicular unit extraction). This is where the donor grafts are removed individually from the back and sides of the scalp – so there is no need to surgically remove a strip.
Around 80% of Dr Shahmalak’s patients at Crown Clinic opt for FUE.
It is a little more expensive than FUT because obtaining the donor grafts is a lot more labour intensive. The donor hair is replanted in the bald patches in the same way as FUT.
Most of Dr Shahmalak’s celebrity hair transplant patients have opted for FUE including Coronation Street star Jack P Shepherd, who plays David Platt, Homes Under The Hammer star Martin Roberts, former footballer Didi Hamann and former Gogglebox star Chris Butland-Steed.
Dr Shahmalak has also performed two FUT procedures on the TV doctor Christian Jessen.
Elton may also have used clinically proven hair loss medication such as Finasteride, also known as Propecia. This won’t have helped the star to grow any new hair but it may have prevented him from losing any more of his natural hair. Surgeons such as Dr Shahmalak often use Finasteride in conjunction with a hair transplant in a twin surgical and medicinal approach to combating hair loss.
Elton asked Chris Evans if he was using loss remedies such as Propecia in an interview in 2011.
Elton is to be congratulated on his efforts to restore his hair over the last 40 years. He has got a great result and his hair is looking better than ever.