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Hair Transplants Explained

November 01, 2018

Hair Transplants Explained

I’m flying back from Dublin, having spent a day in theatre with the talented Dr Maurice Collins – probably the world’s leading hair transplant surgeon.

Many clients have enquired about the procedures and I too have a few less hairs on top than in my youth, when my full swinging Bob would attract ‘is he or isn’t he?’ comments as I strode along, a Mickey take on the ’70s Harmony Hairspray ads for those old enough to remember; my brother Nicky was practising on my hair at the time and hadn’t yet moved onto full layers!

Anyway, my only understanding of hair transplants was the old dolly head plug version which left a lot to be desired and I wanted to be updated on just how refined this process could now be.

The purpose-built centre in Dublin is state of the art, and oozes a sense of excellence and caring. The underground car park with lift allows total anonymity for high profile clients.

We started at 7.45am with a full boardroom briefing on the patient who had flown in from Asia especially. The meeting involved the whole team of about 15 surgeons, nurses and technicians. It’s vital that everyone knows the exact programme, as with this sort of surgery you don’t get a second chance.

Everything is carried out under local anaesthetic and the procedure ran like this:

1. In the operating theatre a strip of scalp is removed from the back of the head between 1 -2 cm high and 26 cm across. Maurice was previously a head and neck surgeon. This is the donor piece. This wound is closed with staples and stitching, and the patient moves to the TV room beside the labs where he can sit upright and relax.

2. The donor section of scalp is then taken to the lab where a team of highly skilled technicians working at banks of Nikon microscopes slice the flesh into 'single hair wide rows. Another group of technicians in the adjoining lab then separate these into the individual hair follicles.

3. The harvest is graded into single hair, double, triple and quadruple hair follicles. The average works out to about 2.2 hairs per follicle, so 100 follicles will yield approximately 220 hairs. 3000 hairs is a fairly standard procedure. This is of course dependent on the thickness and quality of the donor hair at the back. Everything is recorded, counted and posted on the wall for everyone to see. It’s important to know the numbers.


4. Another surgeon has prepared 3 micro scalpels tailored to the depth of the scalp and in 3 thicknesses depending on follicle size. In the TV room he then sets about making incisions into the scalp taking care to adjust the angles so that the hairs lay in a natural direction. Only single hair follicles are placed around the hairline and some are scattered with a deliberate irregularity to mimic nature’s way.

5. A further team of technicians then begin planting the individual follicles one by one into the prepared holes. The full operation can take 10 hours and the patient must stay upright, so cannot go to bed, for 12 hours after leaving.

I sat in on two post op consultations from yesterday’s surgery and I was amazed to see how quickly the healing was taking place. One man was in his 30s the other in his 70s.

Also attended a consultation with a female patient who had been taking Regaine to thicken her hair. I personally don’t like the idea of lifelong drug use but this is mild and externally applied. The results were dramatically different from earlier photographs I saw.

I know as a hairdresser the amazing difference hair makes to self esteem and Maurice is a real artist who’s created an amazing centre. I feel comfortable now recommending clients to him.

Michael Van Clarke