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Hair: Unplugged

Botched Up Bodies (Credit Channel 5)
Graham Ryder on Botched Up Bodies (Credit Channel 5)

By Dr Greg Williams

While today’s follically-challenged men – and women – are almost spoilt for choice when it comes to dealing with hair loss, this hasn’t always been the case. It’s safe to say that thinning hair and bald patches have been at the ‘root’ of many a self-esteem issue over the years, with some men previously turning to what are now considered out-dated surgical procedures.

On average, we meet around 25-30 men each year, who have undergone plug or flap surgery in a bid to achieve a fuller head of hair. Some of you may have recently spotted our patient, Graham Ryder, on Channel 5’s Botched Up Bodies, who was left loathing his appearance following plug surgery 29 years earlier.

Plugs, which soared in popularity during the 1970s and 1980s, involved taking hair from the back of the head and inserting into the scalp in large clumps.

Although this would initially give patients the look they were hoping for, it would often create problems when the natural hair started to recede, as the transplanted hair would remain in place as small ‘tufts’.

Of course, this can lead to patients feeling insecure and self-conscious – and that’s where we can step in. There are a variety of options available to correct plug grafts, depending on the individual’s needs and how noticeable the ‘pluggy’ appearance is. These include total or partial plug graft excision and hair redistribution; and follicular unit grafting to soften ‘pluggy’ grafts or harsh anterior flap margins.

However, one of the most important things to make sure of when performing corrective surgery is that the hairline is irregularly aligned with randomised single hairs in front of the main bulk of the hairline. This is vital for a natural-looking result, which shows no signs of surgery to the untrained eye.

While hair transplant surgery has certainly come a long way since the ‘doll-like’ plug grafts of the ‘80s, it’s still important to carefully consider whether a corrective procedure is the right path for you. You should also bear in mind that it is by no means a ‘quick fix’ to botched surgery and that it may take several surgical sessions to achieve the desired look.

However, rest assured that with the right advice and under the care of the right surgeon, you’ll be on your way to getting the perfect unplugged look.

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