Men suffering from hair loss may be getting fed up with all the miracle pills and potions being touted on the internet.
According to an opinion poll of hair experts conducted by WhatClinic.com, there has been a 260% increase in men enquiring about hair transplants, and a staggering 180% increase in men actually travelling abroad for cheaper hair transplant procedures.
HuffPost UK LIfestyle spoke to Dr Maurice Collins, medical director of Hair Restoration Blackrock (HRBR), to find out why there is a surge of interest.
He said: “Two factors, the technology of hair transplantation has improved dramatically over the last 10 years. A good hair transplant carried out by a trained team of technicians and a specialist hair transplant surgeon should not be noticeable, not even to ones barber.
"The old toilet brush style transplants of the 70s are definitely a thing of the past. Secondly, the likes of James Nesbitt and Wayne Rooney going public has helped remove the stigma of having a hair transplant. Men in their 40s, 50s and 60s are still unlikely to talk openly about their hair loss concerns, but men in their 20s and 30s are much more open.”
Follicular unit transplantation (FUT) is where a strip of the scalp, including the hair follicles, is removed and replanted at the front of the head. Follicular unit extraction (FUE), sometimes called FUE Harvesting, takes individual hair clusters (of between one and four hairs) and replants them one by one, which although more time-consuming, gives better results and less chance of scarring.
In a recent poll of cosmetic surgeons, 78% confirmed that interest from men in cosmetic surgery was definitely growing . Of those asked, almost nine out of 10 (89%) said they believe men are now far more conscious of their appearance than ever before.
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The bottom line, says Dr Collins, is that there is no cure for hair loss. "The drugs that are currently available (Minoxidil and Finasteride) can arrest hair loss for a limited number of years but do not reverse hair loss. Hair transplantation takes existing hair from the back of the head and plants it on top and at the front. It restores a hair line and fills in the gaps, but it is not a cure. It is likely that if a cure is found it will come from stem cell research. ”
As for men travelling overseas for the procedure, Turkey has proven to be the destination of choice for UK men, aided by the considerably lower starting costs of £1,619, and affordable flights. India boasts the most competitive average prices starting at just £789, however it may well be the cost of flights that has deterred patients.
So are transplants the only option if you're worried about your hair? No, says Dr Collins.
“Only one in four men who visit HRBR proceed to have a transplant. For those who choose not to have a transplant, the first option is to accept your hair loss and shave your head. Many men are not too worried about their hair loss and look great with a shaved head – think Andre Agassi or Bruce Willis. Others are not suitable candidates. For example they may not have enough donor hair for transplantation. The donor hair comes from the back of the head, which is immune to hair loss. Budget and age are also factors.
"Many men benefit greatly from taking Minoxidil and Finasteride. The synergistic effect of taking both drugs can arrest hair loss and strengthen the existing hairs for a number of years, which has the effect of more hair, as if the patient has new hair. Young men will often opt for this option for a number of years before considering a hair transplant. Lastly, a patient may not be suitable if their hair loss pattern is not yet established, meaning it would be too soon for a transplant. Men in their mid-thirties and older, where their hair loss pattern is established are more suitable than those in their 20s.”
For men who are considering transplants however, Dr Collins advises doing your research.
"Shop around, compare a few clinics," he says. "Don’t got for the cheapest. You get what you pay for. Look for a clinic that is run by trained surgeons. Look for experience and qualifications. The industry is currently unregulated, meaning anyone can set up a clinic, a GP, a nurse, a salesman. Make sure your consultation is with the surgeon who will carry out your transplant, not a salesperson. If the consultation is free then it’s a sales pitch not a consultation. Look for patient testimonials on the clinic website.”