Rafa Nadal is the latest sportsman to have a hair transplantHardly a month goes by without the tabloid press speculating about top sportmen’s hair loss and reporting on the various procedures they undergo (mainly transplants) to resolve the problem. The latest superstar to receive the tabloid treatment is Rafa Nadal who was recently featured in the Daily Mirror.

Rafa’s ten-hour marathon hair transplant operation

The former world number 1 was ranked by the paper’s Sunday edition as one of the Sexiest Men Alive last year and was keen to point out that he was well known for his long flowing locks. According to the paper Nadal had a ten hour Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) procedure at a specialist clinic in Madrid.

Great advances in equipment and techniques

As time has moved on so has the hair transplant procedure thanks to developments in equipment which mean that surgeons can work at a microscopic level to ensure the best results and minimal scarring. FUE was introduced in Japan in 1988 and is notable in that a single hair follicular unit (1 to 4 hairs) is removed at a time unlike previous techniques whereby strips of hair were removed and migrated. The procedure is highly skilled and is certainly not quick (as testified by Nadal’s 10 hours in surgery) but the results are unprecedented. The tiny excision holes heal perfectly and the precise nature of the procedure means that there is much more flexibility in the desired look for the client. The results aren’t instantaneous but Nadal could expect to have a full head of hair again in six months. It’s not just the techniques that have developed, it’s refreshing to see that attitudes are changing and top sportsmen like Nadal and Rooney aren’t afraid to talk openly about the procedure and its positive effects on them. As Rooney tweeted in June 2011 after his transplant, “I was going bald at 25, so why not. I’m delighted with the results”. Let’s hope Rafa is equally delighted.

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By Ian Watson

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