Surgery For Hair Loss?
Surgery For Hair Loss?
It could be argued that the MARKET for male grooming is somewhat exaggerated in the mass media. But there is one aesthetic affliction that cuts to the core of all grown men. Hair loss, for both aesthetic and psychological reasons, has the unique power to elicit responses ranging from `steadfast denial' to `crisis behaviour'.
For centuries, a full head of hair has been a symbol of masculinity, an expression of youth, strength and virility. And so for many men hair loss can be a brutal blow to their self-esteem, not to mention a depressing reminder that time is passing. This seems doubly cruel when one considers that balding strikes 25 per cent of men in their 20s, while 40 per cent will have noticeable loss by age 35. The sense of defeat runs so deep that 47 per cent of men said they would "spend their life savings to regain a full head of hair" in a study conducted by the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery.
For many years, the solution among my style savvy peers was a buzz cut and a sense of humour. But acceptance is increasingly inconceivable in a world where there are so many viable options to tackle follicular shortcomings.
Cosmetic camouflage, low-level lasers and medications like finasteride or minxoidil may be popular, but for the first time ever surgery seems like a viable -and, crucially, undetectable -solution for hair loss. "Before, people used to laugh about transplants," says surgeon Dr.Bessam Farjo in reference to the Elton John school of procedures that existed in the `70s and `80s."These days they're taken seriously because people understand how natural the results are." He attributes the boom in interest to celebrities including Bradley Cooper who have allegedly undergone Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE).
FUE is a minimally invasive procedure that yields dramatic results in a relatively short amount of time with no shaving, scarring or redness. It's a quantum leap when compared to the dodgy plugs of yesteryear. The procedure involves the extraction of individual hairs from a donor area such as the back of the head. The grafts are then implanted one by one into balding areas, where they grow naturally over the following months. It is a painstakingly laborious process that requires a certain amount of artistry (not to mention patience) on the part of the surgeon. "It takes a long, long time to master FUE," says Dr. Raghu Reddy, a leading authority on FUE whose own hair loss at age 18 defined his whole career. "It's a lot like watchmaking: you're sat there in an odd position, putting the pieces together for eight or nine hours a day. It's manually intensive labour," he says.
Granted, FUE has been around for about a decade or so. But don't mistake the FUE procedures of 2005 for the ones that are being carried out today. The procedure has been refined to the point where a good surgeon can yield more hairs per graft. Dr. Reddy pulls up a picture of a former client on the computer screen in front of us. The scalp glaring back at us has suffered extensive loss that seems impossible to reverse. The `after' picture, taken a week following the procedure, is astounding: there is densely packed hair in the areas that were once barren, but it doesn't look like the patient has had any work done. There is no scarring, no redness.
Many surgeons, including Farjo, rely on machines and mechanical aids to help them complete the job. ARTAS is a hugely expensive robot that performs the harvesting for FUE under a doctor's guidance."The difference is the robot doesn't need to stop for lunch, and it doesn't get tired", says Dr Farjo, a huge plus given the hours of focus required for manual FUE.
With so many different opinions and options for FUE (mechanical, manual, robotic and a number of marketing-driven terms that confuse matters even more), seeing the results is what will encourage a man to walk into a practice. Thanks to the proliferation of Internet forums dedicated to the topic such as baldgossip.com, the best and worst handiwork is immediately visible, along with the name of the doctor responsible.
Doctors such as Chandigarh's Tejinder Bhatti have submitted case studies to the forums, allowing viewers to do due diligence before stepping into a practice. The submission of case studies is an act that could make or break a surgeon's career. But it's precisely this kind of transparency that benefits the consumer in a way that was inconceivable even a decade ago. You can never hide a botch job: not with a toupee, not even in cyberspace.