Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Eyelash Transplant: UK First

Surgeons are claiming to have made medical history with a pioneering transplant – but it won't be saving any lives. Cosmetic surgeons have performed Britain's first successful eyelash transplant, in which hair from the back of the patient's head is grafted on to the eyelid to give long, thick lashes.

With luscious lashes up there with clear skin and white teeth as a must-have for many women, surgeons believe that the £3,500 operation will prove popular. The four-hour procedure, which is already widely performed in the US, was undertaken by the plastic surgery firm Transform.
But as well as offering an alternative to false eyelashes or lashings of mascara for women desperate to look doe-eyed, the procedure is recommended for trichotillomania, an impulsive condition which causes sufferers to pull out their own hair; alopecia suffers; and cancer patients who have suffered hair loss.

The first UK patient to undergo the surgery was 19-year-old Louise Thomas (not her real name), from Manchester, who suffers from trichotillomania.

"Having suffered from trichotillomania for 17 years, I learned to accept that I'd never have real lashes again. That's quite a hard issue for a young girl to come to terms with," Ms Thomas said. "The results are absolutely amazing! I feel so feminine again and simple things like being able to wear mascara have made such a difference to my confidence."

"There are some people who have lost eyelashes through burns or alopecia, whom a little refinement could help enormously," said David Gault, a consultant plastic surgeon and member of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (Baaps).

"However, if you just want longer eyelashes, I would think about it. If the surgeon put an eyelash in at slightly the wrong angle then the patient would not get the results they want".
The procedure is billed as "pain free and minimally invasive", but because the transplant eyelashes do not fall out naturally like ordinary eyelashes, they need to be trimmed every six weeks.

The technique was pioneered in the US to help burns victims, but has grown in popularity. Recent research by the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery revealed that "eyelash rejuvenation" topped the wish list of procedures. Another US eyelash enhancer tipped to hit UK shores is Latisse, an ointment that was originally a treatment for glaucoma but which causes eyelashes to grow longer and thicker.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Facelift eases migraine pain

A simple operation that ends the misery of migraines while rejuvenating the face has been devised by surgeons. The one-hour procedure offers fresh hope to the millions whose lives are blighted by crippling headaches. In the UK, migraines affect one in eight men and women and lead to more sick days than any other illness - costing the economy billions a year. Current drugs have side-effects and do not work for everyone, but the operation, which is based on the forehead lifts carried out by cosmetic surgeons, is more than 90 percent effective at easing the pain.

And it has few side-effects, the official journal of the American Society of Plastic surgeons reports. Professor Bahman Guyuron, the leading plastic surgeon who made the discovery, said: "I have a huge number of patients who have not had any symptoms for over five years. "They tell me, one after the other, that their lives have changed."

Guyuron, a director of the American Board of Plastic Surgery who has published more than 150 articles in respected medical journals, stumbled on the idea while carrying out forehead lifts for cosmetic purposes. He realised that removal of the "frown muscle", or Corrugator supercilii, seemed to stem migraines. Guyuron believes many migraines are caused by nerves in face, neck or scalp being irritated by over-tight muscles and that removing or loosening these eases the pressure and therefore the pain. He has carried out numerous studies into the technique and regularly trains other surgeons.

The "frown muscle" is most commonly operated on, providing the added benefit of a smoother forehead. Other migraine hotspots include the temporalis muscle, which is found in the temples and plays an important role in chewing. Stopping it triggering migraines results in the eyebrows being shifted slightly to the side - and a more youthful look. In his latest study into the subject, Guyuron has compared the surgery with a dummy treatment in which patients were operated on but their muscles left intact.

Forty-nine men and women with severe migraines had the proper operation and 26 the other procedure. A year later, 57 percent of patients who had the full operation had been cured, compared with just 4 percent in the other group. In all, 83 percent of those who had muscle removed said their migraines were much less severe or had stopped. But when other studies involving more than 400 patients are taken into account, the success rate soars to above 90 percent.

Guyuron said: "Patients are back to work in a week or less and the benefits last for the rest of their lives. I would not call the surgery radical. If it was a 10-hour operation I would call it radical. "There was no cure for migraines until I discovered this op. Every patient had to take medication to reduce the potential of migraines or to take the symptoms away." Lee Tomkins, of British charity Migraine Action, welcomed the innovation but said: "Caution is needed until a scientific assessment of such an intervention is made. We would certainly encourage any future clinical trials."

Friday, 14 November 2008

John Cleese says Hair Transplants are No Laughing Matter

Throughout his career, John Cleese has been ahead of the game - and yesterday, the star of Fawlty Towers gave hope to many follicularly-challenged males when he told Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan that he'd not only had a hip transplant but a hair transplant.

The explanation he gave was typical Cleese: "Because I've got a very strange shaped skull, very pointy and I don't like wearing wigs."

Treatments for male pattern baldness have come a long way from Hippocrates' times - he applied a mixture of pigeon droppings, horse-radish, cumin and beetroot to his head. Cow saliva, bats milk, deer marrow, spiders' webs, horses teeth and coffee are other remedies that men throughout the ages have turned to in an increasingly desperate attempt to turn the tide of hairlessness (the term 'snake oil' originally comes from a tonic hawked in 19th century America as a baldness therapy).

However in the 21st century there have been steps forward for the man mourning his hair loss. There are medicines that have been proven in some cases to encourage new hair growth and stop the rate of hair loss (Minoxidil and Finesteride); and there are human trials currently taking place to see if hair follicle cells grown in the lab will grow in the head once replanted .

Most importantly, if you have a spare £5-8,000, hair transplantation has improved – and is continuing to improve - beyond the dreams of its early practitioners. Cleese lives in America now, but there are surgeons who are looking at this in the UK.

Greg Williams is the consultant in charge of the burns unit at London's Chelsea and Westminster hospital. He is one of a handful of surgeons in the UK who are pioneering new techniques for hair transplantation, and treats those who have lost hair, eyelashes and eyebrows due to burns, cancer treatment and male pattern baldness, though the latter is not available on the NHS.

Male pattern baldness (also known as genetic hair loss or alopecia androgenetica) is the most common form of hair loss in men. It usually develops gradually, typically involving the appearance of a bald spot on the crown of the scalp accompanied by thinning at the temples. The condition will affect half of all British men by the time they are 50 (almost a third are appreciably bald by the age of 30).

It occurs when hair follicles, the tiny sacs in the scalp from which hair grows, become sensitized to the hormone dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, which stimulates the growth of facial and body hair. The follicles shrink, so the hair becomes thinner and grows for less time than normal. The condition runs in the family, and the strongest influence is on the mother's side: if your maternal grandfather went bald, that's probably a better indicator than if your father's father lost his hair.

Put simply, hair transplantation works by taking hair from the areas that are not affected by hair loss and transplanting them to the areas that are. According to Mr Williams the results are "very good", though the take of grafts is less reliable in scar tissue than in healthy normal tissue (75–80 per cent for scar tissue compared to 95-98 per cent in normal tissue).

"Any man with male pattern baldness will have a horseshoe of hair remaining around the back and sides of his head," says Mr Williams, and it is from here that a strip of skin will be taken under local anaesthetic. The hairs from this section of skin will retain their own characteristics (ie they grow) rather than acquiring those of the place to which they are transferred (where hair does not grow). Dissecting the hairs from this strip of skin into their follicular units is painstaking work ("you have to have OCD to do this job", says Williams) and performed by a team of three or four technicians. Filling in a patient's temples alone, say, could require 500 hairs.

Old fashioned 'plugs' – the ones that gave hair transplants a bad name - would implant 12-15 hairs at one go. The modern ones use 1-3 hairs, inserted in incisions ranging from .75mm to 1.5 mm in diameter. "I normally aim to use single hair follicular units in the most important aesthetic areas, like eyebrows, eyelashes or the front hairline," says Mr Williams. "Further back I use larger groups of hairs." On average, the surgery takes around five to six hours.

It takes around 6-9 months to see the effect, but by then the hair should be growing as it did in its old home (patients who have had eyebrows or eyelashes done need to be aware of this, and the fact that they will now have to trim them every 5 -7 days). Although all patients are made aware that more work may be needed in the future , as male pattern baldness is progressive, the process can be life-changing.

"I had a patient who used to wear his hair over his eyes all the time because his eyebrow had been burnt off," says Williams. "Now he wears it off his face and that's made a big difference. There's another man who I'm about to operate on who can't go for job interviews because he feels he has to wear a hat all the time. It can be crippling."

Indeed. A recent survey of five European countries found that British men are unhappier about being bald than most of their European counterparts, but are too embarrassed to do anything about it. More than half said going bald made them feel old and less attractive.

Two years ago, LibDem MP Mark Oaten blamed his midlife crisis and ensuing sex scandal on losing his hair. It's unfortunate then that skilled hair transplantation is still so rare - the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgeons of which Williams is a member numbers only 11 members, and he is only one of two surgeons in the country who transplants eyelashes.

But he remains upbeat. "The reason it's not so popular in the UK is that the training is almost non-existent and people have memories of the bad transplants in the past," he says. "Cosmetic surgery in the UK lags behind America by about 10 years but as we are seeing more and more men having plastic surgery and botox I'm sure there are more who will be interested in hair transplantation."

And with Cleese speaking out with enthusiasm for such operations, Williams is likely to be right.

Julianne Moore Changes Mind About Cosmetic Surgery

The star of new movie 'Blindness', 47-year old Julianne Moore, has always been outspoken about her negative feelings concerning cosmetic surgery. But recently, it seems the Oscar-nominated actress has had a change of heart.

The actress has been quoted as saying a few years ago, “I would never ever have plastic surgery. We’re all just going way too far. I know it’s a product of the whole celebrity industry, but it’s something I absolutely detest. I want my daughter to see what is real, not what is unachievable and fake.’ The 46 year old actress believes in aging gracefully and that the aging process is a “fact of life.” Moore adds, “I’m a 43-year-old woman, and 43-year-old women have lines. I think imperfections are important, just as mistakes are important. You only get to be good by making mistakes and you only get to be real by being imperfect.”

She also more recently spoke out against Botox, a dermal injectable used to combat wrinkles, saying, “”I don’t know why women do Botox. It doesn’t make them look younger, it just makes them look like they had work done. You are not going to look the same as you did at 25. What are you going to do about it?”

But now, the red-headed vixen is changing her tune in regards to going under the knife, reportedly saying, “I never say never.”

But the newfound open-mindedness came with a caveat, as she is quoted as saying, “The only thing that worries me, the analogy I use is ancient Chinese feet-binding.

At what point did they decide that small feet were more beautiful? People started making them smaller and smaller until they were stumps and not beautiful at all.

I feel we have decided that being expressionless and young looking is the most beautiful thing and, in pursuit of that, it becomes more and more exaggerated and totally obliterates what we look like.”

On his blog, Dr. Anthony Youn writes, “I think the Chinese foot binding analogy goes a bit far. Much of plastic surgery is meant to restore the body to a previous state or remove excess skin that can become both a cosmetic and functional problem, such as tummy tucks and thigh lifts. The aim of good plastic surgery is a natural rejuvenation, not abnormal deformation like in Chinese foot binding.”