Hair loss can occur for a variety of reasons, such as pattern baldness or as a result of stress or illnesses. Photograph: iStock
While some men adjust better to hair loss, the reality is that many people struggle with the transition and as hair restoration technology has advanced, so too have the numbers of Irish men having procedures to create a look they are more comfortable with.
Hair loss can occur for a variety of reasons, such as pattern baldness or as a result of stress or illnesses. Hair restoration clinics therefore tend to offer a variety of treatments and have an in-depth consultation with a patient to establish the best course of treatment.
“We see all types of hair loss, from thinning of the hair in the frontal and crown regions to receding hairline and full frontal and crown hair loss. Different ways of treating hair loss include surgical and non-surgical treatments – we offer them all,” says Natasha McDonald, managing director of Tir na nÓg clinic, which she owns with her husband Dr Kevin McDonald, who previously worked as a cardiothoracic surgeon. As well as managing the business’s two clinics in Dublin, she also operates in the clinic as a hair transplant technician.
“A client usually gets in touch with us by phone or through social media or email, and during those initial communications we want to establish what type of hair loss they have – they can send us video or photos to be reviewed, and we get a lot of information that way,” says McDonald. “We want to see whether they need a transplant, or if a non-surgical intervention would be better at this stage. If they need a transplant, then they come for a free consultation with Dr Kevin to talk through the options and we assess their donor area to get a realistic expectation of what results can be achieved.”
For transplants, clinicians will check the density of hair in a donor area and also check the area of scalp where hair will be implanted. There are two types of hair restoration techniques commonly used – FUE (follicular unit extraction) and FUT (follicular unit transplantation) and choosing which will work best is done on a case-by-case basis.
“FUT is usually the choice for clients looking for a large transplant, who wear their hair a bit longer and don’t mind a scar because it won’t be seen,” says McDonald. “A strip is surgically removed from the donor area at the back of the head by Dr Kevin and this strip is then cut into single lines of grafts by a technician. The size of the strip taken differs depending on the number of grafts required for transplant and the density of the actual donor area. The strip may be between 15 and 25 cm long and usually 1cm wide. If you have a very good donor area, we could take a strip giving you a large number of grafts quickly without the complication of possible bald patches in the back of your head.”
The clinic also offers FUE, which has become a popular choice for people who want to wear their hair shorter. With FUE, donor hairs are extracted using a handheld device and while harvesting the right amount of hair may take several sessions, it avoids the thin linear scar caused by FUT.