There’s a new kind of betting going on in the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches. It’s the “is that his real hair?” guessing game. Virender Sehwag, who magically sprouted a thick mop on the top of his head,started the hair talk a week before the first ball was bowled in this tournament. Then Shane Warne decided the spotlight should be on his hair. And in the commentary box, Harsha Bhogle looked slightly uncomfortable under his newly active follicles.
While Sehwag, Warne and Bhogle are the most vocal (and noticeable) regenerators of hair, the truth, an expert says, is that at any time, in any match, there are at least two players whose hair follicles have gone on a walkabout and resettled in other parts of their head.
“Accha dikhoge toh zyada bikoge (if you look good, you sell better),” Sehwag said while unveiling his new hairline. A statement that is true even if your primary job is not endorsing brands, it seems. Sanket Shah is the India CEO of Advanced Hair Studio (AHS), the company that gave Warne his new hair. “I had a client here the other day who told me that he was losing Rs2 lakh every day because of his thinning hair. He is so insecure about his baldness that he chooses to send his employees for important meetings,” he says. Which is why the AHS slide shows airing on LCD TVs all over its plush office insist “hair restores life”.
Doug Bollinger (centre) makes sure his transplanted hair is in place after a congratulatory hair ruffle from his teammates. R Senthil Kumar/PTI
The impudence of that statement, however, is completely lost on AHS’ potential clients. The company’s own survey of people with thinning hair suggests that 42% of people avoid going to public places so as not to be ridiculed for their baldness. “And I have had so many young people tell me that they feel suicidal because of hair loss,” Shah says.
Arihant Surana is now known as the Sehwag doctor. “After the news of Sehwag’s hair transplant, people are now confident that they can do it in India. Earlier, most people would travel to Dubai to get their hair done,” he says.
Except for a cautious couple of days immediately after the procedure, there is nothing you need to change about your lifestyle after a hair procedure. You can swim, shampoo, condition and cut—as always.
Not allowing your teammates to pull your hair or violently rub your scalp after you take a wicket will help ensure the longevity of your procedure. Ask Doug Bollinger, who carefully set his hair back after raucous congratulations from his team, for tips on how to deal with overenthusiastic fellow players.
While those of us with active hair follicles may find this pursuit of hair silly, premature loss of hair can be traumatic. Shane Halyburton, 30, lives in Mumbai and has always been conscious of his thinning hair. He tried a lot of treatments, including a six-month course at Dr Batra’s homeopathic clinic, but saw no results. “As soon as AHS opened up, I went in for a consultation, I was totally eager to get something done,” he says.
Two years ago, he opted for the non-surgical strand-by-strand method and now has a full head of hair. “Earlier, I would worry about the breeze blowing through my hair and exposing my shiny scalp. Or when I went to the gym, I would always think everyone is checking out my hairline. But now I am absolutely confident about my hair. My family and friends love it. I style it in three or four different ways—use gel, colour anything. It’s great,” he says.
These procedures cost anything from Rs50,000 to Rs15 lakh depending on the severity of baldness.
The next big thing in the anti-bald business is cloning. “Hair transplant will not work for everybody. Even for Sehwag, the hair in his donor area was limited. In a couple of years, once cloning comes in, nobody will have to be bald,” says Dr Surana.
There is no age limit for a hair transplant. Dr Surana’s youngest client is 16 and Shah’s oldest client is 83. “He wanted a full head of hair before attending his granddaughter’s wedding in the US. Great, more power to him,” Shah says.
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The Virender Sehwag way
Photos: Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP, Swapan Mahapatra / PTI, William West / AFP, respectively
Hair loss for most men follows a specific prototype, known as male pattern baldness, so the last place for baldness is often the lower part of the back of the head. In direct hair implantation, follicles are extracted one by one from the back of the head and replanted on the bald areas. If all goes well, in nine months to one year, the replanted follicles will bear fruit and new hair will grow in the previously barren pate. Why does Sehwag still have a visible bald patch? “His donor area was small, and the area to be transplanted was large. He has two more sittings to go before he gets a full head of hair,” Dr Surana says.
The Shane Warne way
Of course, transplant is not the only solution available. In the early stages, according to AHS, hair loss can be stemmed and prevented. “Thinning of hair usually happens because something called di-hydro testosterone prevents the follicle from receiving nutrition. We use an advanced laser technology to break the formation of di-hydro testosterone,” Shah says. This can take anything between six months to a year and is to be supplemented with regrowth medication, serums and shampoos. Bollywood stars who are forever chasing youth use this procedure even if their hair is not thinning, says Shah. The list includes women.
The Greg Matthew’s way
The Australian cricketer did not want a shock and awe method—bald one day to sporting a lush head of hair the next. So he opted for a strand-by-strand hair replacement method. This involves injecting an unknown donor’s hair into a skin-like membrane and fusing this to the scalp. The procedure—usually done in various stages in the course of a year—reverses male pattern baldness, adding hair in areas that have thinned recently until a full head of hair is achieved.
Illustration by Jayachandran / Mint