Paul Oliver from Vinci Hair Clinic talks about Wayne Rooney and his reacent FUE hair transplant as well as hair transplants in general.
Jeremy Vine (Radio Interviewer):
For centuries, men have used wigs to cover their baldness. The very earliest examples can be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt, where they were stuck to peoples’ heads using beeswax. Imagine the countless generations of men that must’ve dreamed that one morning; they would wake up with a full and replenished head of hair. Last weekend, Wayne Rooney proudly posted the picture of the top of his head on the internet, proclaiming: “I’ve had a hair transplant. I’m delighted.” However, he has to brave what, 50,000 people next time he appears in public? What was it like for you, did you return to work the day after your hair transplant and just have to say nothing about why you suddenly have hair when you didn’t before? Did you put on a wig? Was there a moment when you had to brave the office? Do tell us.
Let us talk to Paul Oliver, his consultant for the Vinci Hair Clinic in Manchester. Paul, you’ve had a hair transplant yourself.
Paul Oliver (Vinci Hair Clinic): I certainly have, Jeremy. In fact I’ve had three in total.
Jeremy: Well I’ve got a picture of you I think must be the most recent one. Tell us when you started off having them.
Well, I started losing hair when I was 17, so you can imagine how that feels when you’re a seventeen year-old lad and people start pointing at that you’re going bald in the crowd. And, but it didn’t really become that noticeable ‘till I was about 21. So, that was 33 years ago. It was a pretty crude technique back then, it was called Plug Grafts. You might remember people like John Cleese had it done. Elton John and quite a few celebrities, but it was very noticeable. So having had that done…
Jeremy: What was plug grafts? Did you burrow a hole in the skin or something?
Paul: Plug grafts was unlike today where we take individual grafts and put them in one at a time and another five people to see a good transplant to say that any difference between that natural hair. But plug grafts, they used to take ten grafts at a time, and put them in ten at a time. And the common description of it was doll’s hair. If you imagine how doll’s hair looks that grows in clumps, that’s exactly how plug grafts looked. So having had that done at 21 that was fine for a while, but then as the hair receded around it, it became noticeable, so then I had to do other things. And fortunately today’s technique, FUT or what we didn’t had, FUE. As to say, you can’t tell the difference between transplanted hair and non-transplanted hair.
Jeremy: So we’re there now. We’ve actually got the Holy Grail now.
Paul: No. We haven’t got the Holy Grail. The Holy Grail would be to give you a full head of hair. What we can do with transplants is give you hair back, but not to the density you had before you lost any. That we’re waiting to happen when they finally learn to clone hair. With the cloned hair, you can have as much as you can pay for.
Jeremy: So the more hair to take it somewhere to there?
Paul: Yes. The only person that can give hair to you is yourself, and obviously you can’t give yourself so much hair from the back that you got none at the back, loads on the top. That would be pointless. So we can take a certain percentage from the back, put it onto the top. And for guys who’ve lost small amounts, we can return them back very close to what they were before. But if you’ve lost a lot of hair, we can give you decent results. But and If people look at my pictures on the website, you can see what we can achieve. But we can’t give you hair like yours, Jeremy. You’ve got a very fine head of hair. I can’t give people that.
Jeremy: I’m older and I’ll need to get started on some of these techniques I think, but what’s the difference between FUT and FUE, do you think?
Paul: FUT is where we take a strip of follicle from the back and side of the head. That strip of follicle can contain anything up to 3,000 grafts and then we dissect them up into each individual graft. That’s very important to say. Back in the day we used to put them in groups, and now we divide them up and take each individual one, we put them in one at a time. It’s a very long process, but it produces natural results. With FUE, there’s no strip taken from the back of the head. We remove the grafts one at a time. There is a more expensive technique. It takes a lot more of the surgeon’s time. But this alleviates the problem for some people who are worried about having a scar at the back of their head.
Jeremy: So, it is fascinating, this sort of technical stuff. But when he’s having it done, is he just sitting there reading a magazine or is he out cold?
Paul: No, no. We don’t put you to sleep. It’s just a local anesthetic. People either listen to their iPod or they watch a movie. Watching a movie is the most popular. Some people fall asleep because you can’t actually feel what they’re doing. We anesthetize the whole area, so whatever they’re doing back there you can’t feel it, and some people from my last one I fell asleep. They had to wake me up and say: “We’re done!”
Jeremy: And how long would it take to do Wayne’s, which we can all picture in our minds?
Paul: For Wayne’s, because it’s FUE, we’re probably looking at about 8 hours. He may have spread that in over two days.
Jeremy: Wow! So he’s just gotta sit there, and not frigid for quite a long time?
Paul: Yes, yes. That’s why it’s good to fall asleep, because then it just all passes very quickly and very painlessly and say, they’ll wake you up and say “You have new hair!”
Jeremy: Okay, and when those new grafts go in, what makes them grow?
Paul: Well, the best analogy I can give for that is if you have a plant in your back garden, and you dig it up, and you plant it in the front garden, eventually the roots take place and it grows. It’s pretty simple as that. You’re taking the root, putting it into a different part of the scalp, the blood vessels eventually attach, and it starts to grow. Just like it would on the back, it grows on the top.
Jeremy: And you’re suggesting that at some point they will be able to take you in and take some hair, have you back a month later and have grown an entire clone head of hair from the sample you get and then they’d give you the full John Travolta?
Paul: Well, they’ve been working on that for some time. We’re all hoping that they’d finally crack that one. If they can completely clone a sheep, we don’t understand why they can’t clone a single hair. They haven’t managed it yet but when they do, then Wayne can have a full head of hair and everybody else who can afford colorful head of hair.
Jeremy: And one last question for you, which is we’re talking about the moment you have to reappear with your new hair. And sort of stealing yourself from that, did you have a moment?
Paul: Well, that’s a very good point because I always tell people to come it for a consultation, and if you can take two weeks off work, and go back after the two-week period, so having had it done at the beginning of the two weeks, your appearance is very similar before you had anything done. Because the little scamps that associate with the new hair, they will fall away in ten days or so. Your scalp will be a little bit pinker, but you can always put that into the sun in this time of year. The little hairs that are attached to the grafts, we expect those to fall away in the first two weeks. Because that isn’t the hair that’s gonna grow for life. That will start to come through in about three months’ time. And then in three months, four months, heading up to nine months or more, your hair just gradually gets thicker and thicker. And because it happens so slowly you must find it hard to believe, but if you don’t tell people, they don’t notice. You’re very conscious, however, you think everybody is looking at you but they don’t notice. And if anybody happens to say: “Just a minute, don’t you have a lot more hair than you had ten months ago?” People say: “Oh yeah, this new great shampoo I bought on the internet from America. It’s marvelous.” They would rather say that, than say they’ve had a transplant. So if you can keep that time period for a couple of weeks, you can go back to work, keep it confidential and that’s fine. It’s different when you have the hair system, or the wig..
Jeremy: Wig, hair system, is that what they call that?
Paul: That’s what they would call ‘em today. Nobody, I mean people in the wig business will never call it a wig. They call it a hair system. When you go with that, when you go back to work with that, people talk to your hair, they don’t talk to you in the eyes for at least six months.
Jeremy: Hair system does still look good, but it just looks preposterous.
Paul: It can. The very expensive ones can look very good. There’s a lot of well-known celebrities and sports people are out there with ‘em. They can look good. But they take a lot of maintenance. They have to be removed every month and refitted. They have to be re-collared, you have to discard and has to be washed every month.
Jeremy: Are they glued on down?
Paul: Yeah, they’re glued on, yeah.
Jeremy: So they don’t come off in high wind or anything?
Paul: Hopefully not. No. They shouldn’t do. But I tried it when I was in my early 30’s, I absolutely hated it. I couldn’t wait to get rid of it. That was the biggest mistake in hair I’ve ever made and I’ll never do that again.
Jeremy: Thank you very much for talking, it’s just really interesting as well. Paul Oliver, we love doing technology, and hair technology is really here. Consultant for the Vinci Hair Clinic in Manchester.