Hair to stay
Bollywood stars have gone for it. So have cricketers. Now, young men with deep pockets are opting for hair transplants to fix their receding hairlines and bald patches.
Two years ago, hair clinics were full of middle-aged men looking for a solution to have their hairline. “These days, most of the queries are from men in their 30s, and I have done a hair transplant on a 28-year-old as well, ” said Dr Charu Sharma, senior consultant for cosmetic surgery at Fortis Hospitals.
“Young people who earn well don’t want to compromise on anything, especially their looks. Most of my clients are IT professionals and call-centre employees. Surprisingly, some are even taxi drivers,” said Dr Lokesh Kumar, senior consultant, cosmetic surgery, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.
Follicular Unit Hair Transplantation (FUHT) is the most popular technique to relocate hair naturally. There are two types of FUHT — follicular unit extraction and strip grafting. “These procedures help restore lost hair and within a year, no one can tell the difference,” said Dr Kumar.
In its natural form, hair grows in groups of one to four. Each group is called a follicular unit. “Depending on the size of the bald patch, follicular units are extracted from the back of the head and implanted in the bald area,” said Dr Kumar. There is no scarring, and no stitches are required.
In strip grafting, a thin strip of skin is taken from the back of the head and cut into small pieces. These strips — called grafts — are then implanted in pieces on the hairless areas. This procedure requires stitches, which can vary from less five to 40, depending on the size of the hair strip harvested and implanted. Since grafting is painful and requires hospitalisation for a day, very few opt for it. In direct hair implant, tiny hair grafts are taken from the face and head.
Since grafting is a surgical procedure, it is performed under local anaesthesia. “It is effectively pain-free. Follicular unit grafts are very small and the incision made for transplantation is as small as a needle prick,” said Dr K. B. Goyle, senior consultant for cosmetic surgery at Hair Transplant and Cosmetic Surgery, one of the oldest hair transplant clinics in the Delhi. Painkillers are routinely prescribed to avoid discomfort.
The cost depends on the size of the bald patch and the amount of implant required, but varies between Rs 1.5 lakh for receding hairlines to Rs 5 lakh for baldness. “One hair root transfer usually costs about Rs 50,” said Dr Sharma. “To fill a square inch of bald patch can cost anywhere between Rs 700 to Rs 4,000, depending on the severity of the condition and the overheads charged by the clinic,” said Dr Goyle.
The wound heals within two weeks; and in two months, natural hair starts growing. In one year, there is full hair growth post-transplantation. “After implantation, the implanted hair functions like natural hair,,” said Kumar.
Non-surgical options include permanent wigs that can be fixed on your scalp for upto three months. “Scalp hair is shaved off and the wig is fixed. They can be shampooed and treated like natural hair but the person needs to visit the clinic for cleaning every three months. You don’t even need to take it off in between,” said Dr Kumar. The cost varies between Rs 30,000-Rs 4 lakh for the imported ones.