BENGALURU: When Anand Sharma (name changed) started noticing his hair thinning in his late teens, he didn’t pay much attention to it. By 24, he noticed he was losing hair on his crown, and by 27, most of the hair on top of his head had fallen off.
The media professional at first wore a cap most places he went, as his self-confidence had dropped significantly. On dating apps, he found he it harder to get ‘matches’, and this only made him feel depressed. “A friend suggested I see a dermatologist figure out what I could do to slow down this hair fall. There is a balding tendency among the men in my family, but it only started much later for my dad and older cousins. I started treatment, mainly serums and creams that I used for months, but eventually, the hair just kept falling anyway,” he says. Earning a decent salary, frustrated with not being able to get a date and feeling increasingly uneasy with his appearance, Sharma decided to see a cosmetologist regarding a transplant.
Experts from the city say that they are seeing younger men come into their clinics for hair-related issues. Dr Rajendra Suresh Gujjalanavar, senior consultant, plastic surgery, Sakra World Hospital, says that he sees an average of 5-6 men come in every week. They first visit a dermatologist and then approach cosmetologists. “Increasingly, younger patients have started coming in. Some are less than 25 years old, who say that their confidence and self-esteem has been affected due to hair loss. While in most cases, the cause is hereditary, stress is starting to become one of the major reasons for the onset of early hair loss.” A hair transplant, generally, can cost between Rs 70,000 and a lakh when done at a proper facility.
Dr Mukta Sachdev, HOD, Dermatology Department, Manipal Hospitals, says an increased concern over appearance and larger disposable income are actually why we are seeing younger men go in for hair-related treatments and procedures. “At least 30 per cent of the clients we see come in are men with hair-related issues — which is a large number. While hair loss is being experienced by men in their 20s now, increased awareness and disposable incomes are also prompting them to come in for treatments,” she says, adding that while spending might not be a problem, transplants can’t be done on just anyone, as they need to have a good crop of hair at the back which can be transplanted to the front and centre.
These days, getting the right pictures to upload on Instagram plays a large role in the entire wedding scenario, especially when you have fairytale-like references such as the Deepika-Ranveer wedding or more recently, Priyanka Chopra’s palace wedding. Pockets are being dug deep in to for the right wedding photographers, makeup artists and outfits. For Kartik Satish (name changed), a city-based IT professional, losing his hair almost cost him his bride.
“My girlfriend of four years didn’t seem to have a problem when I started to lose my hair by 23, but and by the time we decided to take the plunge and get married, I had lost about 60 per cent of my hair. My fiancée, her mother and I were deciding upon a wedding photographer, when my mother-in-law to be suggested I ‘do something’ about my receded hairline before next year’s wedding, because it wouldn’t look good in the pictures. When my fiancée agreed, was the first time I felt I ever felt ashamed about my appearance,” he says, adding that he finally didn’t go through with the procedure.
Dr Sydheendra Udbalker, dermatologist, Fortis Hospitals, says lifestyle and nutrition issues are making the gene that is responsible for male pattern baldness to manifest earlier. “I see about 12-15 patients come in a week with hair-related enquiries. Some, are even in their teens. One common reason they cite for wanting to get treatment is marriage or inability to find a partner — morale is affected, is what we hear often. However, the problem is that these treatments — which usually involve the usage of topical creams or serums — are long-drawn, and patients stop the treatment after a few months. The treatment, which is usually about holding onto the hair that’s left, costs around Rs 2,500-Rs 3,000 for two months,” he says.
Dangers of Salon transplants
Dr Rajendra Suresh Gujjalanavar, senior consultant, plastic surgery, Sakra World Hospital, says that he’s seeing a number of salons doing hair transplant surgeries, which is dangerous, as the procedure, if not done properly, can lead to other infections. “Hair transplants involve teamwork, with a number of technicians involved. Because the process is quite mechanical, these technicians are carrying them about by opening their own salons in Bengaluru and charging a much smaller sum - Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000 - which is a large amount for them. While the procedure doesn’t involve much thinking, it requires precision and stability, as well as clean, sterile environment, and so it is advised that only experts do them. Often, getting the procedure done at a salon leads to infections - swelling, redness and pus - which can also prove fatal. There was a case in Chennai where a man succumbed to these infections.”