Doreen Morgan has thick, lustrous hair, which she wears in a pixie-style cut. You would never imagine she had ever been troubled by the kind of menopause-related hair loss that plagues some women.
But just over a year ago, she’d lost so much that she hid behind hats and dreaded a sudden gust of wind exposing her embarrassingly sparse hairline.
‘I began losing my hair when I went into an early menopause in my late 30s,’ says Doreen, 57, a police data analyst from South London. ‘I spent almost 20 years trying every so-called wonder treatment I could lay my hands on – expensive shampoos, vitamins and prescription medicines such as minoxidil (used to treat pattern baldness) – nothing worked.
‘I felt a bit haunted by my hair loss, that it was always on my mind, and I certainly felt embarrassed by it. I think it’s worse for women than men because our hair is so bound up with our sense of femininity.’
She was beginning to despair when, in autumn 2021, she casually mentioned it to the Harley Street doctor she sees for laser skin treatment – and she gave her contact details for a hair transplant clinic.
Just over a year ago, Doreen Morgan lost so much that she hid behind hats and dreaded a sudden gust of wind exposing her embarrassingly sparse hairline
Hair transplants are typically perceived as a male treatment, with former sports stars, including Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs, publicly extolling the virtues of their own surgeries, with accompanying pictures. But now there’s a surge in women seeking the procedure, too.
One in three women suffer some form of hair loss during their life, with common causes including menopause, pregnancy, birth control and female pattern baldness. The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery in the U.S. reports that, globally, of those having hair transplants, 87 per cent are men and just 13 per cent women – but that number is growing, including in the UK.
‘I hung on to the clinic contact details for a while, fearing that the treatment sounded too radical,’ says Doreen. ‘But eventually I realised it was the lifeline I’d been searching for.’
So in February last year, Doreen, who is divorced with an adult son, underwent an eight-hour follicular unit extraction (FUE) transplant at the KSL Clinic in Maidstone, Kent (kslclinic.co.uk), costing £6,000.
Despite the fact that more women are taking this bold – and costly – step, the taboo largely remains. When Doreen took two weeks off work to recover from surgery, she didn’t tell her colleagues the reason for her absence. But there was no hiding it on her return.
‘A large strip at the back of my head had been shaved where the follicles were extracted, and there was still scabbing and light bruising at the front where they’d then been implanted,’ she says. ‘Thankfully, everyone was incredibly supportive.’
The operation was performed by Dr Matee Rajput, KSL’s director of surgical services (drmatee.com), who also underwent a hair transplant in 2019. He reports that the proportion of female transplant clients has risen from around 1 per cent pre-pandemic to around 8 per cent now.
In February last year, Doreen, who is divorced with an adult son, underwent an eight-hour follicular unit extraction (FUE) transplant at the KSL Clinic in Maidstone, Kent (kslclinic.co.uk), costing £6,000
Performed under local anaesthetic, the size of the thinning area determines how many grafts are required as well as the fee, though it typically costs between £3,000 and £10,000.
Hair follicles are extracted from areas of the scalp where hair is fuller – usually at the back – and placed into areas where the hair is thinning, where they will continue to grow and therefore give the appearance of fuller hair.
But the painstaking procedure is not for the faint-hearted.
Dr Matee says: ‘The patient lies face down and local anaesthetic is administered into the scalp before we shave a strip of hair at the back, where hair tends not to fall out. I then use a 0.6mm implement to ‘punch’ tiny circular cuts around each hair follicular unit, which we extract using forceps. We remove around one in every five units so that the missing ones won’t be noticeable when the hair grows back in the shaved area.
‘The patient then turns over and we anaesthetise the area at the front of the head before making tiny holes, using a 1mm diamond-shaped blade, into which the grafts are inserted.
‘The tension of the skin keeps them in place and, during the next two weeks, the follicles settle and bond as the area scabs over and heals, after which new hair begins to grow,’ he adds.
Results are permanent and, as Doreen attests, understandably thrilling – though they take some time to appear.
‘I had a bit of swelling around my face and for two weeks I had to sleep propped up in bed,’ says Doreen. ‘I couldn’t do physical activities while everything healed. After a week I was able to gently wash my hair to encourage the scabs to fall away.
Life coach Tracy Kiss, 35, is another who knows the distress of losing her hair. Just six months ago, she couldn’t look at her reflection in the mirror without wincing at her receding hairline
From clip-in extensions, silk pillowcases and hair-loss shampoos, to expensive treatments designed to stimulate the dormant hair follicles, Tracy devoted hours – and estimates that she spent more than £6,000 – in pursuit of a fuller hairline
‘At that point my hairline looked just as it had before surgery, and I wondered whether it had worked. Then, to my amazement, hair started to grow through. Because I already had short hair, my results 13 months on are incredible, because the new hair is now the same length as my existing hair.’
And she says it’s been ‘life-changing’. ‘My son and grandchildren think I look fabulous, I can leave the house without a hat now and no longer dash to the bathroom as soon as I arrive anywhere to check whether the thin parts are visible.’
Of course, her non-transplanted hair at the front may continue to thin, but any gaps can be plugged with further transplants.
Life coach Tracy Kiss, 35, is another who knows the distress of losing her hair. Just six months ago, she couldn’t look at her reflection in the mirror without wincing at her receding hairline.
Ten years before, with the birth of her second child, she suffered post-pregnancy shedding, which is common because of hormonal changes. But whereas most women experience re-growth, Tracy’s hair loss got progressively worse. She spent thousands of pounds in her quest for a solution in the intervening years.
From clip-in extensions, silk pillowcases (said to be gentler on hair than cotton versions), hair-loss shampoos, masques and multivitamins aimed at improving hair health, to expensive treatments designed to stimulate the dormant hair follicles, Tracy devoted hours – and estimates that she spent more than £6,000 – in pursuit of a fuller hairline.
Tracy, who is single and lives in Buckinghamshire with her two children, says: ‘I felt embarrassed. If you have hair loss as a woman, people assume you’re ill or are having treatment for cancer.
When Tracy (pictured) first looked into a transplant in 2018, she was told it ‘was only for men’. It wasn’t until last summer that she chanced upon a social media video of a woman who’d had a transplant
‘At the same time I felt ashamed for worrying about my hair loss when there were wars going on and so many people coping with serious illness. I’d look in the mirror and think, ‘What is my hair going to look like in my 30s, 40s and beyond?’, because it was only going to get worse.’
When she first looked into a transplant in 2018, she was told it ‘was only for men’. It wasn’t until last summer that she chanced upon a social media video of a woman who’d had a transplant.
Tracy had her FUE transplant in November in Istanbul, costing £2,600 – the favourable exchange rate making it two to three times cheaper than in the UK. She says: ‘I did extensive research and went to Turkey because a hair transplant there with a world-leading surgeon costs a third of the price of the same calibre of surgeon in the UK. But I would have flown to Australia if that’s where the finest surgeons were.’
Tracy’s operation was organised through a surgical concierge in the UK and video calls with the surgeon. A scan determined that she’d need 2,500 hair grafts to fill the receding areas.
‘Hair is integral to how a woman feels about herself, yet nobody talks about female hair loss and how attainable and permanent a hair transplant is,’ she says.
During the six-hour procedure, Tracy was able to listen to music, watch movies and answer work emails while her surgeon and his team worked on her scalp.
So why is so little known about female hair transplants despite their growing availability?
Dr Matee says it’s all wrapped up in the taboo surrounding female hair loss. ‘Traditionally, this has been a male-led industry. I see women with hair loss due to hormonal changes, autoimmune conditions and cancer treatment.’
Recently, though, Dr Matee has seen an increase in younger female patients who are not experiencing hair loss but who were ‘born with a high hairline and want a transplant to make their forehead appear smaller’.
Regardless of the reason, the procedure does require patience. Tracy likens the discomfort of the first fortnight post-surgery to having ‘a bad period’.
‘My whole face was swollen and there was bruising to my forehead,’ she says. ‘It meant I couldn’t look down as it gave me a pounding headache, so it was tricky putting on shoes or going to the toilet. I wore hats and silk scarves to conceal my wounds, mostly so as not to scare my children.
‘Within just a few weeks I began to notice hairs growing through, making me look like a hedgehog. Now I have around a centimetre of growth and I’ve gone from being ashamed of my hair to being thrilled, and haven’t shied away from social occasions for the first time in years.’
Lynda Braybrooke, a soft furnishings designer from Ipswich, began losing her hair in her mid-50s owing to the menopause. She began researching treatment right away and had a hair transplant six years ago – for her 60th birthday.
‘I’m 5 ft 1 in, so most people look down on me and would have been able to see the thinning hair around the front and sides of my hairline,’ says Lynda, 65, who has two children aged 34 and 29.
‘I never let it stop me going out, but I was self-conscious. I’ve always taken care of myself – going to the gym, eating healthily, and having my hair regularly cut and coloured – so losing my hair went against all of that.
‘I’d heard about male hair transplants, but wasn’t aware the treatment was available to women until I accompanied a friend to an appointment about cosmetic surgery and mentioned my hair loss to her surgeon, who recommended a clinic to me.
‘When my husband asked me if there was anything I’d like to do to mark my 60th birthday, I said a hair transplant.’
Lynda had her £6,500 surgery at the Farjo Hair Institute (farjo.com) in Harley Street in 2017.
‘The surgery took a full day,’ she says. ‘The most painful part was the back of my head where they harvested the follicles. But it very quickly healed. For a while there was nothing and then suddenly it came up almost overnight.’
Lynda’s full, jaw-length hair attracts plenty of compliments from others. ‘Six years on, friends still say, ‘God, your hair’s amazing!’ Many of them are just reaching that midlife stage where they’re starting to lose their own hair — so they notice mine more.
‘It’s been life-enhancing for me. It’s high time there’s more information out there to help others realise how accessible the procedure now is for women.’
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-11942979/The-women-spending-10-000-going-knife-hair-transplant.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 The women spending up to £10,000 going under the knife for a hair transplant