Hair trans­plants get a leg up

HT Ludhiana Live - - Wellness - San­chita Sharma, Health Ed­i­tor san­chi­tasharma@hin­dus­tan­

Get­ting a new head of hair got crick­eter Shane Warne an in­stant up­grade from re­tired crick­eter sta­tus to be­com­ing Bri­tain’s favourite celebrity El­iz­a­beth Hur­ley’s fi­ancé. It also got him thou­sands in ad­ver­tise­ment dol­lars for prov­ing ‘bald men can get hair back with­out look­ing ab­surd’.

But more than that, what makes Warne truly wor­thy of the pin-up sta­tus among men-who-once-had-hair is his mak­ing hair trans­plan­ta­tion al­most ac­cept­able by tak­ing away the as­so­ci­a­tion of hair loss with loss of viril­ity and vi­tal­ity. Warne’s hair graft got him a model girl­friend with­out much fuss and made many men with thin­ning pates to re­ject dodgy com­bovers and wind­blown toupees in favour of a more per­ma­nent sec­ond crop of head fuzz.

Dozens of crick­eters and tele­vi­sion com­men­ta­tors chose to fol­low his foot­steps and got hair trans­plants to boost con­fi­dence at work and at play (and by play I don’t mean cricket). Viren­der Se­hwag went a step ahead and be­came the brand am­bas­sador for a hair trans­plan­ta­tion clinic, which, he said, got him his hair graft­ing done for free.

Trans­plant surgery in­volves re­mov­ing hair from the back of a man’s head to the thin­ning site. I say men be­cause 25% of men in their 20s and 60% in their 40s suf­fer from hair loss be­cause of a con­di­tion called an­dro­genic alope­cia — male pat­tern bald­ness — that typ­i­cally be­gins with hairloss at hair­line above the fore­head and even­tu­ally cre­ates a horse­shoe-shaped pat­tern of hair around the ears. The prob­lem stems from sen­si­tiv­ity — largely in­her­ited — to the ef­fects of hor­mones on hair fol­li­cles.

Two tech­niques are gen­er­ally used, the more com­mon one be­ing fol­lic­u­lar unit ex­trac­tion (Fue) that ex­tracts one fol­lic­u­lar unit — a ba­sic group­ing that may have one, two or three hairs — at a time and trans­plants it un­der lo­cal anaes­the­sia. The other is the strip tech­nique that in­volves re­mov­ing a block of skin with hair, break­ing them down into fol­lic­u­lar units and im­plant­ing each back.

Tra­di­tion­ally, fol­li­cles are taken from the area that runs an inch or two above the ears and tem­ples to the back of the head. Fol­li­cles from this area — called the safe donor zone be­cause fol­li­cles that spout there are im­per­vi­ous to the hor- mones that cause hair loss — can be trans­planted to the front of the head with­out fear that they may fall off. But since hair that grows at the back of the head is typ­i­cally thicker than the fine hair that grows in front, the hair­line be­gins to look harsh and coarse.

This week, two stud­ies in The Archives of Der­ma­tol­ogy de­scribed a new pro­ce­dure to cover thin­ning hair­lines by us­ing hair fol­li­cles from the legs and graft­ing them to the fore­head. Leg hair had been trans­planted be­fore to the back of the head, but had never been used to re­store the hair­line. Leg hair is finer than those sal­vaged from the back of the head, so the final ef­fect is more nat­u­ral.

Of course, it’s best to start us­ing treat­ment to get hair loss un­der con­trol when it starts. Over the past cou­ple of years, drug treat­ments us­ing mi­nox­i­dil ( brand names Min­top, Multi­gain, Tu­gain, Morr, Min­top, Gro­mane, Alopec) ) and fi­nas­teride (Con­ti­flo, Fi­nalo, fi­nara, Fi­nast, Fi­nax, Fin­car, Fin­tride, Growvita, Fis­tide) have ef­fec­tively low­ered hairloss. These pre­scrip­tion drugs work as well to treat women’s fall­ing hair.

Given that now the thin­ning-hair club is spoilt for choice, you could con­sider trash­ing crude prod­ucts — spray- ons de­signed to cam­ou­flage shin­ing pate with ar­ti­fi­cial hair; or weaves, which in­volves glue­ing other peo­ple's hair to your scalp — in favour of per­ma­nent grafts that help you look your best.

Il­lus­tra­tion: ABHIMANYU

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