Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: James Kavanagh Talks Hair Transplants

Suffering from hair loss, or know a man in your life that is? James found his solution.

James before…

I was always one to enjoy having a big mop of hair on my head. When I was a little leggings-wearing club kid, I’d do all sorts to it; backcombing, crimping and spraying it to death. Being known for my adventurous spirit when it came to my gruaig, hairdressers would very often ask me to be their model for hair shows and did very creative things with my thick tresses.

However, around my 25th birthday, I noticed my hairline slowly but surely creeping back and the top section slightly thinning. I would begin to hold my fringe in place when I turned corners because a gust of wind would swiftly reveal what was actually going on. I’d dive under water in a pool or in the sea and when I’d swim back up to the surface, the first thing I’d do (even before breathing) would be to immediately fix how my hair was sitting; again to hide the slow but sure hair-loss I was experiencing. I noticed it more and more in photos and started refusing to be photographed unless I could choose my positioning. Hair-loss was not something that devastated me or anything, but I was very self-conscious about it. I decided I was going to get a hair transplant in a few years.

At this point I should say that bald/ tight cuts can be so beautiful on people, but it’s a route I personally didn’t want to go down. Here I am aged 29 with some more chunks of hair missing and my forehead looking like a beach with the tide slightly out. People who are experiencing a slow hair loss become very creative with how they style their hair in order to hide the blank bits and that’s what I did – quite well, too, I think.

I decided now was the time. One clinic that came up constantly in my research was Hair Restoration Blackrock (HRBR). YouTuber Riyadh Khalaf and his dad were both treated by the clinic and I watched their progress over 12 months. Also, I’m a huge Marty Whelan fan and he got treated for hair loss there so I needed no more convincing. I went in for a consultation and adored how thorough they were with diagnosing me – I felt safe and in good hands. Also, there was no fantasy bullshit; they didn’t tell me they’d restore my hair to its glory years, but gave it to me straight and told me what was realistically achievable. A common thread with dodgy hair clinics is that they promise the world to you for an attractively low price. Who can blame people for being sucked in?

…James now – with his buzzcut icon, Sinead O’Connor

In fact, HRBR almost try turn you off the idea of getting treated. Dr Maurice said to me (and he’s known to say it to everyone): “Nobody medically needs a hair transplant. Think about this long and hard and do your homework before you come back.” He also told me I had a great shaped head and would look great bald – which I was chuffed with. After talking through all the options, I decided I’d go with FUE (follicular unit extraction) which is the least invasive and is very easy to heal up from. Side note – they also do eyebrows which is something my friends who’ve abused their brows found very interesting.

The first part of my procedure – you’re awake for the whole thing by the way, but they have Netflix – was the harvesting of hairs which my head was completely numb for. Not going to lie, the numbing injections had quite the sting in them, but once the anaesthetic kicks in you can’t feel a thing. After that, you get a lunch break (I have to say the food was gorge – it’s like a posh hotel) and then you’re brought in for the final bit which is where they plant all the collected hairs; I had over 4,000 taken from the back of my head and artistically and mathematically scattered at the front where they were needed. I was in the procedure room from 8am – 6pm. The aftercare is essential. There’s itching and unpleasantness now and again but overall it’s so manageable. So far, so good and I’ll see results in 18 months.

To anyone thinking of getting this done, do your homework and make sure the clinic is reputable. Get personal recommendations. Somewhere like HRBR is not cheap (€10k-€20k), but they offer good payment plans which are worth exploring. And finally, if this is not a route for you, baldness, a red lip and a strong brow game is very fab too.