Our third and final feature on the increasing popularity of hair transplantation culminates with an interview with renowned Dr Vikas Kunnure, a consultant hair surgeon for hair loss who operates between Harley Street and other clinics in the UK. Dr Kunnure specialises in the treatment of Male Pattern Baldness and other hair loss types, as well as providing various options for hair transplantation procedures.
Dr Kunnure advised us ´Fundamentally, and then main procedure of hair transplantation involves taking hair from the donor area of a patient, and replanting it within the desired area. Hair transplantation first appeared some 50 years ago, where the procedure consisted of skin grafts. Sections of skin and hair were removed and replaced in a transplantation regrowth attempt.´
Hair transplantation is broadly achieved by removing grafts / follicles from the back of the head (which are more resistant to hormonal changes), and placing them in areas of scanty growth or baldness. There are two methods to remove the grafts – Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE).
In FUT method, a strip of scalp is cut out from the back of the head and is dissected into individual grafts. In contrast, the FUE method of hair transplantation involves taking the individual follicular units / grafts from the back of the head one by one by cutting around it through a tiny specialised machine and removing them. The process is tedious and takes a few hours but is painless after a few numbing injections are given.
´The rest of the procedure remains the same in both techniques. Tiny sites are created using very fine blades and needles in the balding areas after numbing them again with local anaesthetic injections. These grafts are then inserted in the sites on the front of the head or wherever there is hair loss.´
Both of these procedures are undertaken on a local anaesthetic, which after the initial dose is given, means that the remainder of the operation can be achieved in a pain free manner, usually within the same day, although the exact time (in hours) can vary.
Patient choice is an important factor in the final hair transplantation option. The FUT option is more laboratory based, whereas the FUE is more labour intensive and intricate, requiring microscopic surgery according to Dr Kunnure;
´With variations in procedure, correspondingly come variations in ´down time´. With FUE, the patient can return to a normal routine the next day (using care and attention), however FUT requires a scar along the rear of the scalp, which normally heals within a 7 day period, allowing the patient to return to a normal procedure.´
The costs of both procedures can vary in cost. As FUT is not as labour intensive, it can cost up to 3-4 pounds per graft, with a more delicate FUE increasing to 6-7 pounds per graft. The average transplant candidate can vary (depending on the age and hair loss) requiring anything from 1000-4000 strands during the procedure.
With a choice of several options and a high level of success, the adage of ´baldness today is a choice, not an option´ is relevant, as many male (and female) stars of stage and screen are going under the surgeon’s knife. Manchester United´s star Wayne Rooney is a good example of such a procedure according to Dr Kunnure, which is putting the procedure more into the public eye and changing the trend to become more popular and desired.
As a final piece of advice though, Dr Kunnure suggests taking into account how difficult it is to assess the future potential for hair loss between individual candidates.
´Family genetics and pattern baldness can be a prediction, but not a certainty. In later years, hair loss patterns can become a little clearer, which is why this procedure is more suitable in later life.´
Several celebrities have successfully undertaken this procedure and have changed their appearance completely. Perhaps this is why so many people are following this increasing (and life changing) trend.