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What makes Rob Holding’s Hair Transplant so good?

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Dr Luciano Sciacca TALKS about The Pioneering Technique behind ROB HOLDING’S HAIR TRANSPLANT.

In October 2021, Arsenal and England defender Rob Holding made the news for joining the list of male footballers like such as Wayne Rooney and Antonio Conte who have undergone hair transplant surgery. Despite being only 25 at the time, Rob Holding’s hair loss had been progressing rapidly, leaving the area around his temples and crown almost completely bald.

The defender – who had joined Arsenal from Bolton in 2016 – showed no visible signs of hair loss at the time of his debut with the Gunners, but things would change dramatically only two years later. Pictures of Holding’s receding hairline had made it clear that the FA cup-winning centre back suffered from male pattern baldness, a condition that affects only 16% of men aged between 18-29.

As hair loss in your mid-20s is relatively uncommon, the impact on Holding’s self-esteem was severe, as the Gunner himself admitted in a social media post on October 2021: “Today is World Mental Health Day and I struggled a lot with my hair and self-confidence. I have so many messages from other people affected by simple mental health issues and self-confidence issues.”

Following the surgery, Holding’s hair grew back steadily throughout the 2021/202 Premier League season, his shaved head gradually giving way to a full head of healthy natural-looking hair. By the time Holding scored his first Premier League goal against West Ham in May 2022, the Arsenal defender had regained much of his hairline and was happy to admit that his self-esteem was also back.

Find out more about Rob Holding’s own journey directly from the specialist who performed the surgery, Dr Luciano Sciacca.

How were you involved in Rob’s hair transplant?

I took part in Rob Holding’s hair transplant as lead surgeon, meaning that I was in charge of designing the new hairline and performing the surgery. However, a successful hair transplant always requires teamwork, so I was assisted by a team of highly-qualified technicians throughout the procedure.

Can you take us through Rob’s hair transplant journey?

At the time of the transplant, the extent of Rob Holding’s hair loss was fairly advanced – his hairline had been receding significantly around the temples and on his crown too. When I met him, Mr Holding was very distressed about his hair loss. Even though he’s a football star, he’s also a young man in his mid-twenties, so he was quite bothered by it, like most young patients are. However, Mr Holding’s expectations were very realistic as he understood perfectly well how the procedure worked. The surgery itself went very well and there were no complications. After surgery, Mr Holding was very good at taking care of his grafts. In fact, he turned out to be one of the fastest hair growers I’ve ever seen – people usually get to see the first results after 8-9 months but his transplanted hair started growing in only 4-5 months.

What type of hair transplant did Rob have?

Rob Holding had what we call a FUE Hair Transplant, which stands for Follicular Hair Excision. FUE is a method of harvesting the grafts using a very fine punch – the tissue around the follicle is then cut and the graft folded out using forceps. Another hair transplant option is FUT, which is short for Follicular Unit Transplant. FUT is a bit older but it’s still a valid hair transplant method. The main difference is that FUE is less invasive and recovery times are generally shorter. On the other hand, the benefit of an FUT hair transplant is that a bigger number of grafts can be harvested. Outcome-wise, FUE and FUT are equally effective, with the success rate being around 95% in both cases.

How many grafts did Rob have?

I used around 2,600 grafts to perform Rob Holding’s hair transplant. I extracted the grafts from the donor area on the back of his head and used it to replace the hair he had lost.

Does Rob now have a full head of hair?

The short answer is yes – thanks to the transplant, Rob Holding now has a full head of natural-looking hair. In Mr Holding’s case, I opted for a very conservative hairline, which is one of the most important rules to follow when re-building hairlines: the shape and location of a new hairline need to be designed taking into account the fact that as the patient ages, they will probably require future procedures to fill in balding areas behind the hairline that is created during the surgery. I really enjoy paying attention to these details, which is why Rob Holding’s hair transplant was a success. I also used a special procedure to make Mr Holding’s hair look natural. Basically, I like to build a new hairline starting with grafts with only one hair. Behind the grafts with only one hair, I then implant grafts with two hairs, and behind these ones, I place grafts with three or four hairs. This method makes the transplanted hair look softer and more natural because density is built up progressively. In fact, a mistake that happens quite frequently in some clinics abroad is placing multiple hair grafts in the front hairline, which makes the transplanted hair look unnatural.

Does age matter if you are planning a hair transplant?

Potentially, all patients affected by male pattern alopecia can lose hair from the front or the back of the head. A transplant will cover the areas where you’re balding, but if your hair loss continues after surgery, you’ll be left with bald patches next to the transplanted areas. That’s why age is a key factor when deciding if a patient should have a hair transplant or not. For example, if you’re 20 and your hair is slightly receding on your temples, it’s probably not a good idea to have a hair transplant. Not just yet, at least. In such cases, you probably want to choose an alternative medical therapy to prevent further hair loss instead. Other remedies could also include laser therapy, PRP, and micro-needling, although at the moment the effectiveness of these methods is still under scientific investigation.

How long will the hair on Rob’s head grow before it needs to be transplanted again?

Once again, after a transplant, any patient could potentially lose some hair. So, Mr Holding will need to follow maintenance therapy for a long time. If he were to interrupt the therapy, he could indeed lose some hair, but not the transplanted hair. It’s very important that people understand this: transplanted hairs cannot fall off because they are taken from an area of the head that is not affected by hair loss.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The part I enjoy most about my job is planning the transplant. For example, when I’m working on a new hairline, I always make an effort to understand how the patient’s looks are going to change as a result of the surgery. In fact, I used to be a patient myself, so I do understand what my patients go through. I understand that they’re putting their trust in me and that I must do my very best to deliver top-quality treatment. Some people might say “hey, it’s just hair!”. I couldn’t disagree more: hair loss has a huge impact on people’s lives, so a hair transplant is as important as any other type of surgery. It just feels great when the patient comes back to the clinic and sees the full results of the procedure. After a hair transplant, people really gain back their confidence because they get to look younger – some of my patients even got married as a result of the hair transplant! Seeing them happy and satisfied is the ultimate reward.

What advice would you give to men thinking about getting a hair transplant?

First of all, young people should be aware that hair transplants don’t cure hair loss. A hair transplant is just a method to move hair from one part of the body – usually the back of the head – to wherever those hairs are needed. So, it is important that people fully understand some of the limitations of this type of surgery. Secondly, the design of a hair transplant needs to be conservative, meaning that the shape and location of a new hairline need to accommodate the reality that as the patient ages, they will require future procedures to fill in areas behind the hairline that is being created right now. Therefore, it is important that young patients choose a hairline that they will like when they get older. Finally, all patients should avoid the black market, which is a huge problem throughout the world. Even here in the UK. Some clinics do offer very low prices, but you get what you pay for. In my career, I’ve had to help several patients who had not received the best results by unqualified hair surgeons. Unfortunately, in the most extreme cases, it’s just too late to fix somebody else’s mistakes.

Would you like to find out more about Dr Sciacca and the FUE Hair Transplant technique? Just fill out our free consultation request form and a member of our surgery will be in touch.

Fact Check

Who is Rob Holding?

Rob Holding is an international defender who plays for England and Arsenal Football Club. Managed by Mikel Arteta he regularly stars alongside other world renowned Arsenal players, such as Ben White, Bukayo Saka and international goalkeeper and fellow teammate Aaron Ramsdale.

Who is Timeless Hair Transplant Clinic?

Based in Harley Street, Timeless is a leading London hair transplant clinic, led by the renowned hair surgeon, Dr Luciano Sciacca. Dr Sciacca works with Timeless Hair Transplant Clinic to deliver world class transplant surgery including the pioneering FUE method.

To contact the clinic please call +44 (0) 2085794938 or email [email protected]. Alternatively you can book a consultation here

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