It was just after my 19th birthday that I saw the first stray hairs on my pillow. A few days later, I noticed them in the shower. Looking in the mirror, it hit me: I was going bald – and I hadn’t even reached my twenties.
From that day on, it became an obsession. I’d compare myself with every bloke I passed in the street, either feeling envy at the sight of a stranger’s luxuriant locks or relief when I spotted someone balder than me.
I’d always been confident, but I could feel my self-esteem vanishing. When I took a girl home, I’d be on tenderhooks – what if she ran her fingers through my hair and it came out in her hands? The ribbings from my mates didn’t help. Once I was playing pool and one joked how I’d look like the ball soon. I laughed it off, but it really hurt.
After a while, I got so low that I started seeing a therapist. Having someone who’d listen without judgement was a real help and, at her suggestion, I confided in my best friends, who were supportive. But I did feel embarassed speaking about it – after all, it’s just not something blokes in their mid-twenties should have to confront.
A few years ago, I visited a London hair clinic, where I was prescribed a revolutionary drug named Propecia. The results were incredible. Within three months, my hair stopped falling out. But it couldn’t reverse the hair loss that had already occured. Then, last summer, Wayne Rooney tweeted a picture of himself after a hair transplant and it gave me hope.
I went to see the UK’s leading hair transplant surgeon, Dr. Raghu Reddy, who has treated lots of celebrity clients, and he gave me the confidence to go for it.
So, a few weeks ago I found myself shaven-headed in his surgery, being injected with local anaesthetic. He explained that through a process called FUE (follicular unit extraction), healthy hairs are extracted from the back and sides of the head (where they never fall out) and reinserted elsewhere. After two 10-hour days, I was sent home with around 8,000 new hairs planted across the front of my scalp.
My head was covered in tiny scars, so there was no hiding what I’d had done. Prior to the op, I’d only told close friends and family but, as I planned to go back to work after a few days, I decided to announce my transplant to the world – or at least my 697 Facebook friends. The reaction to my #hairtransplantselfie was incredible: within hours I had over 100 ‘likes’ and dozens of positive comments.
It took a week for the swelling to go down and the scabs to come off, but I’ve never felt better. It takes up to 12 months for full regrowth, but I’m optimistic about the end result. My decision to do it wasn’t about vanity. It was about being more confident in my own skin – the same reason women wear make-up or padded bras. And you shouldn’t be ashamed about anything that makes you feel better about yourself.