Top surgeon says Covid has sparked hair transplant boom after virus victims suffered hair loss and others got fed up of seeing their balding pates on WFH Zoom calls
- Dr Ismail Ughratdar made his name performing pioneering awake brain surgery
- Five years ago he started performing hair transplant surgery at a London clinic
- Lancet journal study said 22% of Covid hospital patients experienced hair loss
- Dr Ish said social media and influencers also playing a role in increased demand
A top brain surgeon told how he has launched a post-lockdown mission – to save Britain’s men from going bald.
Dr Ismail Ughratdar – who made his name performing pioneering neurosurgery while patients are awake – is using hair-raising techniques to help boost client’s confidence and self-esteem.
When he’s not saving lives on the operating table, the consultant neurosurgeon is using his precision skills to carry out hair transplants.
And the surgeon – who is known as Dr Ish – has revealed how the Covid pandemic has led to a huge surge in cases.
One study in the Lancet journal estimated that 22 per cent of patients who were hospitalised with Covid experienced hair loss after their illness.
Experts believe the emotional shock of living through the pandemic could be a contributing factor.
Dr Ish told MailOnline: ‘Stress can be a factor in your hair falling out. It does accelerate hair loss.
‘Usually it will come back but I have seen incidents where stress can seriously make you permanently lose hair.
Dr Ismail Ughratdar (pictured) – who made his name performing pioneering neurosurgery while patients are awake – has revealed how the Covid pandemic has led to a huge surge in hair transplants
‘We saw a spate of it during the Covid pandemic. A lot of clinics noticed it.
‘We were all kind of locked in our homes and everything just changed overnight.
‘The roads were empty, you weren’t allowed to go out. You couldn’t socialise or see your family and friends like you used to.
‘There have been more people wanting to turn to these procedures.
‘We sat tight with a lot of patients to see what happened. A lot of them do recover.’
Dr Ish said changes in work practises during the pandemic also led to an increased demand for hair transplant surgery.
He said: ‘We noticed in lockdown because a lot of people were working at home and suddenly seeing their faces on Zoom and Teams.
‘They probably were saving a bit of money because they weren’t out socialising. We saw a bit of a boom.
‘A lot of them have said they are still working from home. They say “I keep looking at myself on Zoom and I’m thinking I’m losing hair and need to do something about it”.’
Technology and social media is also driving interest in the younger generation, he said.
Dr Ish, 43, said: ‘Times are definitely changing and men are certainly more open to having procedures done.
‘You see it especially with influencers, being role models and always wanting to look 100 per cent and immaculate with not a hair out of place.
‘The younger generation are extremely IT and media savvy and want to look good.
One study in the Lancet journal estimated that 22 per cent of patients who were hospitalised with Covid experienced hair loss after their illness. Pictured: A full crown hair transplant before (left) and 15 months after surgery (right)
‘They can get really concerned even when there is a small amount of hair loss which is probably the right time to try to prevent it.’
Dr Ish, who was born in Yorkshire, attended the prestigious University of St Andrews and Manchester where he qualified in medicine with an honours degree in 2004.
He is a practising brain surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
His role as a consultant neurosurgeon has enabled his pioneering work on ‘the awake craniotomy surgery programmme’.
Procedures are performed without anaesthetic and patients are awoken during surgery.
This allows surgeons to interact with patients when they carry out procedures such as removing tumours and is regarded as the most reliable way to ensure that the doctor does not damage healthy tissue.
The surgeon will ask the patient to answer questions and perform simple tasks, to make sure their motor and speech function remains intact.
Dr Ish said people – including an increasing number of women – from all walks of life have sought treatment and his oldest patient was aged 82. Pictured a woman’s scalp before (left) and eight months after surgery (right)
Dr Ish, who has carried out charity work in Gaza, was filmed performing the surgery on a young patient for a BBC2 documentary in 2019.
He has been able to adapt his skills, which include removing the top of skulls, to carry out scalp surgery and hair transplants.
He said: ‘Obviously both are working on the head, the scalp.
‘The old fashioned technique where you cut out a strip on the scalp – that’s really how I got into it.
‘I’ve got a friend who runs a hair transplant clinic. He lost his hair transplant surgeon. He phoned me up and said “I know you can scalp people”.
‘He pushed me and pushed me and said come and have a look at this and see what you think and have a look at the results you can get.
‘I’ve been doing it for the last five years. I found it interesting and quite different. There are definitely some very straightforward transferable skills.’
Dr Ish, who has carried out charity work in Gaza, was filmed performing the surgery on a young patient for a BBC2 documentary in 2019 (pictured)
Today around 60 per cent of his work is brain surgery while the rest of the time he carries out hair transplant surgery at the private Wimpole Clinic in London’s Harley Street.
He said of his work: ‘It’s a very different kind of reward than you get from neurosurgery and saving lives.
‘Hair loss really does affect some people, most people, quite significantly.
‘When you can even recover some of that hair loss it really can do wonders to a person’s well-being.
‘When you see the results 12 months down the line and a patient walks in and they’re a very different person in terms of confidence and self-esteem, it is really quite rewarding.’
Dr Ish told how former England captain Wayne Rooney helped remove the stigma of hair loss treatment after revealing he had undergone a transplant aged 25 in 2011.
He said: ‘We saw an influx and people suddenly realised there are solutions out there.’
Dr Ish told how former England captain Wayne Rooney helped remove the stigma of hair loss treatment after revealing he had undergone a transplant aged 25 in 2011 (pictured pre and post hair transplant)
He has helped a number of celebrities saying: ‘Most ones that I have done are cricketers. We get anchormen on news channels to TV celebrities and footballers.’
But he said people – including an increasing number of women – from all walks of life have sought treatment and his oldest patient was aged 82.
He performs the ‘old fashioned scalping technique’ where surgeons cut a strip off the scalp then take individual hairs and plant them into the areas where hair has been lost.
A separate ‘more modern technique’ involves the extraction of individual hairs.
Procedures cost between £3,000 and £7,000.
He also has experience of harvesting hair from other parts of the body, including beards and body hair, when donor hair may not be sufficient.
He said: ‘Most male hair loss is due to testosterone and genetics. You’ve probably got too much testosterone or high levels.
‘When you combine that with your genetics, usually from your mum’s side, you’re likely to follow that pattern.
Technology and social media is also driving interest in the younger generation, Dr Ish said. Pictured: a man’s hairline before (left) and ten months after a transplant (right)
‘So long as you have your straightforward standard pattern of hair loss we will have a look at your donor area.
‘If you are a very bald person you always have a horseshoe shaped band of hair that never falls out. That’s slightly genetically different to all other hair.
‘All we do is move that hair. We’re thinning from the back to thicken through the front. We’re moving that hair that’s never going to fall out.
‘The older method, you cut out a strip of the scalp then you cut that up into individual hairs and you insert them into the areas where you want to put them in.
‘If you have quite a lot of hair loss then you would want to consider the older technique because you can get more grafts.
‘If you’re very, very bald, unless you’re prepared to have multiple procedures and lots of expense and perhaps even take hair from beneath your chin and your body hair, you need to have realistic expectations about what you can achieve.
‘I’ve done quite a few very, very bald men and staged them over a few sessions and they’ve been happy.
‘I’ve seen men who have done five or six procedures over say 20 years.’