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The bald truth about hair loss

By Kara Dolman

You have to hand it to Wayne Rooney. You write him off as yet another stone-skulled, macho footballer and in one fell tweet he turns your preconceptions on their head.

When the Manchester United and England star striker revealed that he had undergone a hair transplant last week he confessed that his hair loss had left him feeling sensitive.

At the weekend he tweeted, “Just to confirm to all my followers I have had a hair transplant. I was going bald at 25, why not. I’m delighted with the result.”

He is not alone. Rooney is the latest in a list of celebrities, reportedly including actor Jude Law and restaurant owner Gordon Ramsay (who deny it), and Dancing on Ice judge Jason Gardiner, actor James Nesbitt and the Standard’s Dr Christian Jessen (who don’t), who have launched a strike against their shedding scalps.

Now experts agree that baldness, once an inevitability for most men, is becoming a choice.

“Over the past decade, there has been massive advancement in our technology and science,” explains hair restoration surgeon Dr Raghu Reddy, who works out of The Private Clinic on Harley Street. “There are now so many options available, it really is a decision based on lifestyle and your personality.”

Dr Reddy practises an advanced version of the FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) technique, the one that Rooney opted for.

Unlike more traditional strip method – where skin from the dense hair area at the back of the head is cut away before being placed onto balding sections – FUE uses tiny needles to transfer individual follicles to where they are needed, without scarring. Reddy, who charges £2.50 per hair follicle transferred, says demand for this treatment is “humongous”.

At the Hair Science Institute’s London clinic, the waiting list for its HST procedure (hair stem-cell transplantation) currently runs up to February 2012.

“If he had opted for our technique, Wayne would have avoided looking like Quasimodo,” says the institute’s Dr Coen Gho, referring to a picture that Rooney tweeted of his new hairline saying, “Hi all, there’s my head. It will take a few months to grow. Still a bit bloody too but that’s all normal. #hairwego.”

“HST extracts the hair, rather than the entire follicle, meaning we penetrate no more than two to three millimetres deep. The dentist is worse,” says Gho.

However, a hair transplant will take much longer and cost considerably more than your average filling.

Rooney reportedly booked in for a two-day, £30,000 procedure at the Harley Street Hair Clinic last Thursday. Dr Gho says patients will need to have a spare 10 hours and £4,000-£8,000 for a HST at the Hair Science Institute’s London clinic.

However, more affordable help is available if you tackle hair loss earlier.

Finasteride, prescribed and sold in the UK as Propecia, is an anti-baldness drug which is extremely effective at “blocking” DHT, the male sex hormone behind hair loss.

“It won’t encourage hair regrowth but it will stop you losing more,” says Jason Cocking, director of Lisa Shepherd London, who has been taking Propecia for three years. “Baldness runs in my family and when I started to lose my hair in my late twenties, it really affected my confidence.”

Cocking’s GP gave him a private prescription of the drug – which costs £35 a month – and his hair loss stopped in its tracks. As in the course of his work he has to mingle in the hyper-critical fashion and media industries, this was a huge relief.

Radio presenter Johnny Vaughan has previously told the Standard he believes going bald cost him his TV career, but many hair stylists now agree that their male clients aren’t embarrassed about acting on hair loss any more. Increasingly they are cutting the hair of men who have had treatment and are happy to admit it.

“Attitudes have changed, hair loss is much less of a taboo subject now,” says top stylist and creative director at Hari’s, Dar. “The bottom line is a full head of hair makes you look and feel fantastic, being bald does not. Prince William, he should absolutely go for this!”

Yet Prince William, 28, and Rooney should pause for thought. The pattern of men’s hair loss does not usually stabilise until their mid- to late thirties, meaning any transplant treatment before that age might need to be repeated.

Merck, the company that makes Propecia, also notes on its website that a small number of men – less than two per cent – could suffer sexual side-effects, such as impotence, while taking the drug.

With these anti-hair loss options now available, you have to ask: is baldness worse than the expense and minor risks involved in treatment?

Dar is adamant: “For us men, yes. We are like Samson – once we lose our hair, we lose our power. It’s in our blood.” Look out for that slogan on a bottle on anti-hair loss shampoo coming to you, soon.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, June 23rd, 2011 at 11:21 am and is filed under HAIR TRANSPLANT SURGERY. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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