Belfast Telegraph

The secret behind Wayne Rooney's good hair day

A hat-trick against Arsenal marked a return to form for Wayne Rooney -- but could this all be down to his new crop? Chrissie Russell reports

Wayne Rooney has got his groove back, and the secret of his success? His new hair. The player famously had hair transplant surgery last summer after starting to go bald at 25.

Following his £30,000 procedure he tweeted a picture of his freshly sown follicles writing: "It'll take a few months to grow and it's a bit bloody too, but that's all normal."

Now it seems the pain was well worth it. Rooney pointed to his head after scoring in a 3-0 win over Spurs last week causing pundit Gary Neville to comment: "Last year that would have skidded off Wayne Rooney's head. But that new hair helped it get in the goal".

Last week, Dancing On Ice judge Jason Gardiner followed suit, posting pictures of his own noggin on Twitter following a second transplant procedure. The TV star said that friends couldn't understand why he was putting himself through the surgery, but that it was "not for anybody else, it is purely and simply because of the way I feel about myself."

In recent years, a slew of male celebrities have decided to fight their receding hairlines by surgical means.

John Cleese said his hair transplant was on account of having a pointy head ill-suited to wigs; Gordon Ramsay was pictured earlier this year with considerably more bouffant hair after reportedly undergoing a procedure in the States; and, like Rooney, James Nesbitt credits his two transplant ops with boosting his confidence and work success.

He said: "I felt my hair loss would affect my career prospects. The transplants changed my life. It's horrible going bald. Anyone who says it isn't is lying."

Men have always had an emotional connection to their hair. Ever since Delilah stripped Samson of his might by shearing his locks and Caesar shaved his captured enemies to highlight their powerlessness, hair has been associated with strength, confidence and virility.

"Men, and women, come in looking for help with thinning hair or baldness and the one thing they all have in common is wanting to boost their confidence," says consultant Carol Johnston from Dublin's Universal Hair & Scalp Clinic.

"Hair is associated with being youthful and successful. It's not just vanity."

Dr Geary from Hair Transplant Ireland agrees.

"It's all to do with self- esteem," she says. "I think sometimes women can be quite insensitive. You wouldn't get a guy going round telling women they're fat, but many women think nothing of pointing out a man's bald spot."

Retired office worker turned model and film extra, Desmond O'Connor from Dublin, says he had his hair transplant because he didn't want to feel old.

He says: "I'm a single guy and I look after myself but I was aware my hair was gradually disappearing. I still want to be out there and not feel past my sell-by date, so last year I got a transplant."

Des spent around €5,000 at Dublin's Ailesbury Hair Clinic, having some 1,800 hair follicles removed from the back of his head and transplanted in the front. He says: "I can already see results. Hopefully, having hair will improve my chances of getting film work."

A quarter of men will be balding by the age of 30 and two- thirds will have lost significant amounts of hair by the time they hit 60.

The most common cause is a generic predisposition to male pattern baldness, which affects four out of seven men. Other causes include an excess of sebum (which clogs the follicle pores), alopecia, hormonal imbalances and iron deficiency.

Stress can also exacerbate the problem. Early action is better than leaving it late. Medicines like Minoxidil or Propecia can stimulate the hair and stop it falling out and some research suggests electrical frequencies can stimulate hair growth.

But when a significant amount of hair has fallen out, a transplant may be the only option.

Most clinics use FUE or FUT, which involves transplanting healthy hairs or follicles from the back to the head into the front while the patient is under local anaesthetic for four or five hours. It doesn't come cheap, costing around €10,000 for 2,000 follicles.

But the good news is that once in, the hair won't fall back out.

Wayne Rooney and Co may have pushed the procedure on to the front pages but, according to Dr Geary, men getting hair transplants is not a new celebrity-driven phenomenon.

She says: "It's been done for years and years -- it's just no one was saying anything about it. The numbers are maybe up a little bit, but it's something men have always done; they're just maybe talking about it a little more now, so it's more visible."

But not everyone wants to talk about it. Mike* (not his real name), in his 30s from Cork, has had two hair transplant procedures -- six years ago and again two months ago -- and says the results are 'fantastic' but it's not something he wants his mates to know about.

He said: "I feel it's made my confidence increase 10 times. Other people wouldn't really notice much of a difference but it was something I was self-conscious about and wanted to change."

He adds: "It's a private thing. Women might feel OK talking about cosmetic procedures but I would be too embarrassed to tell anyone. Men are supposed to just accept going bald, but I didn't want to."

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