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Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Sometimes I scratch my head in puzzlement: why is everybody so concerned about my thinning corona, when I, the alleged sufferer, am not? I have come to this startling, original conclusion that people are obsessed with hair because it helps cover their scattered brains, the way they are obsessed with bikinis and briefs as covers of their underlying assets.
Doctors, you may have noticed, wisen up to your insecurities faster than they can read a para of their obsolete textbooks. That is why they have been, for centuries, devising ways of making people spend money to get some insulation for the brain. Apart from the snake-oil kind of remedies, which claim to create a new thatch on your head faster than it takes our honest politicians to spend your income tax money, we also suffer the hair-raising claims made by the likes of hypnotists! With these thoughts in mind, I started to research the new money-spinner in plastic surgery, the follicular hair transplant. Is it a gimmick, like its less respectable non-surgical counterparts?
The web led me to the concept of corporatisation of cosmetic surgery. Everywhere, I found companies advertising their skilled doctors and their blessed, and newly hairy, patients. I found a Pakistani surgeon travelling to Europe to operate on the whiteheads for a few euro per hair graft! Their sites have gems like “shaadi ke pehle nai bal” (get new hair before marriage). “Aha!” I thought in relief, “this is real scientific advancement, not gimmickry; if corporations sell transplants, rather than exotic panaceas like shark semen or whale poo, they have to be good!!”
Human hair grows in clusters called follicles. These hair follicles are genetically programmed to fall off at an early age, if your father was nicknamed “Teko” or “Motta-Mama” in his college days ( both are local sobriquets conferred on baldies). On the other hand, if your Dad’s name were Einstein or Rabindranath, half your earnings would be spent on hair gels and combs! Another reason for the loss of mane from the front and sides of the head is the action of a male hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone), that acts only on those hairs located in the areas where men lose cover (the “male pattern of baldness”). The hairs in other parts of the head and body are not affected. What these obscenely rich plastic surgeons do is excise a strip of hairy skin from the lowest part of the back scalp. They (rather, their technicians) section this skin strip such that each tiny bit of skin contains a few hair follicles. Each tiny piece of skin is implanted on the bald area. If these transplanted hairs stick on, they will live forever and what’s more, look completely natural. So, essentially, this is a form of skin grafting.
So what can the Lock-Less Monster do? Simple things first: healthy eating, drinking and sleeping. Then attend to scalp infections like dandruff, if any. Next comes the attempt to stop the load-shedding with lotions like Minoxidil. Each of these works additively. Your dermatologist, if he has recovered from last night’s party, might also prescribe some drugs.
If all these fail and your incipient trip to superstardom skids on a bald spot, go to the best available cosmetic surgeon for a hair transplant.
Home truths:
• Do check if he is experienced: ask him how many he has done!
• Contact patients who have had the operation a few years, not months,
before. They will be good sources to trust. Get a list from your doctor.
• Ask your surgeon if he does the latest follicular unit hair( FUH) transplants:
these cause less scarring and pain and give better results.
• Infection is a bugbear of all surgeries: ask about how the
instruments are sterilized. Are they reused by a method called autoclaving?
• Beware of a surgeon who tries to hardsell the surgery to you;
remember, nobody died of baldness.
Learn more: visit websites and discussion groups: you will be surprised to learn so much!
When you go for surgery, prepare to shed some serious financial flab. “ I’m middle
class, be reasonable!”, you cry? Ha! Buy a wig, teko!!

1 comment:

Aditi said...

No wonder my husband & u talk on the same lines on aloepecia! A prof& a doc both need 2 b convincing speakers to outwit their women! Ur blogs r weirdly interesting & they keep getting all the more so by the day. will get back again later.