There’s nothing like a thinning thatch to send a bloke into the foetal position, thinking his life is over. Ok, maybe a spot of erectile dysfunction comes close (pardon the pun) but seriously, male pattern baldness can be pretty traumatic to the balding. If this is you, just know that we hear you and we know you want consolation and information.
Introducing Spencer ‘Spex’ Stevenson. Spex has been around the block more than a few times on the whole baldness-and-what-to-do-about-it ride. He’s been a volunteer guinea pig of sorts, testing and trialling all kinds of treatments, therapies and products, from shampoos and vitamin supplements to painful surgical procedures. He’s helped thousands of similarly balding men for more than ten years, including some A-list celebs and other household names.
Male pattern baldness doesn’t discriminate; even the handsomest models and the most famous rock stars find their hairlines disappearing. What I’m most passionate about is sparing sufferers from the clutches of the industry’s charlatans and directing them towards appropriate courses of action. Trust me when I say I’ve “been there, done that and bought the T-shirt”. I’ve tried probably every treatment, lotion, potion, natural remedy and procedure known to man so unless there’s another planet out there that we don’t know about, populated with balding men, I’ve pretty much done it all. And I can tell you what brings success and what results in the kind of failure that can send a grown man crying into his beer.
Don’t we all turn to Dr Google for answers on our spots, lumps, discharges and other intimate woes? I know I have. Problem with Dr Google is that you could go looking for an answer as to why you’re losing your hair and come up with a diagnosis of six different cancers! Listen, mate, give the Good Doctor a wide swerve and if you are worried about your hair falling out, go and see someone who can actually help you!
First stop should be your actual doctor; your GP, the person you go to when you have a bad back, a miserable man flu or you slice your hand in an unfortunate cooking incident. Your GP can examine your noggin and point you in the next right direction which will likely be a hair loss consultant.A doctor’s referral will be based on actual knowledge of the consultant’s credentials, and feedback from patients who’ve been there.
Make your appointment, do not pass ‘Go’, do not collect $200 (actually, you’ll part with about that much) and do not be distracted by all the shiny promises made by the hair loss industry online. Get yourself off to the clinic and be informed and educated as to your condition and your options.
Honestly, I’ve encountered a crap load of bullshit remedies – some I’ve tried, some I’ve been smart enough to avoid – including rinsing your poor scalp with cow urine. Not even kidding. But see, vanity being what it is, when our hair falls out, we hapless chaps get a bit desperate and we’re inclined to believe anyone who’ll restore our head to its former well-covered glory. If something seems unrealistic – or disgusting, even – preserve your dignity and avoid it.
Me, I’ve worn wigs, I’ve eagerly bolted down the rabbit hole of alternative therapies, I’ve spent a fortune on creams, gels, sprays and tonics and I’ve taken one for the team (actually, far more than one!) and endured countless indignities. All this in the name of not going bald. You’re welcome! I’ve gone deep into anxiety and depression and I’ve suffered through ten hair transplant surgeries. That’s an average of one per year since I started losing my hair. I reckon if I were to add up everything that I’d tried and subtract the things that have worked, I’d come out at about a ten percent success rate. That’s a whole lot of wasted money, time and frustration, not to mention discomfort, pain and disappointment. But I’ve also met some of the most highly respected and genuinely skilled professionals in the world.
Ultimately, I found what worked for me. I’m pretty chuffed with my results. I now have a hairline that matches my age, maybe even looks better than that of a lot of men my age, and the volume of my hair is exactly what I want. I’m in my forties with no receding hairline to speak of and when I tell people I was balding, they don’t believe me. I no longer suffer from depression and anxiety, I have a wife and children and I now make my living from showing other men how to triumph over their hair loss problems.
I’m often labelled a ‘hair loss guru’ and I’ll take that. I’ve also been called a ‘hair loss mentor’ and even a ‘hairline hero’. Hey, whatever works and if guys will pay attention to what I have to say, they can call me whatever they like. I can promise you I will never lead you astray because I’m talking from hard-won experience.
I can wholeheartedly and very proudly tell you that the hair loss industry does have some conscientious and skilful operators among its ranks. One is FUE Europe which has Dr John Cole at the helm and the other is the International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons (IAHRS), headed by Spencer Kobren. Both of these organisations are highly respected globally and they continually develop and improve to keep up with research and development and are essentially relevant in this space and move with the times in this industry.
In June 2019, they’ll be presenting at a Manchester conference along with many others including industry insiders such as Joe Tillman and myself. It’s open to hair loss and hair transplant doctors and clinics and which also welcomes the public. The programme will include celebrities who will tell their stories about their own hair loss and treatment experiences, to raise awareness and stand in solidarity with their follically-challenged brothers.It’s always comforting to know you’re not alone and if these high-profile guys are prepared to get up and say what they’ve been through, then you’ll feel empowered and better equipped to find the actual right solution for youas well as actually listen in to the discussions regarding the current state of this space by leading physicians and influencers.
“It’s just your hair, get over it!” Ooh, dem’s fighting words. Try telling a woman to go out dressed in a hessian bag without her war paint on. We all need to look our best, whatever that is to the individual. Sowhether it’s women with their dyed hair, push-up bras and stiletto heels or it’s men with our restored hairline, fancy watch and honed biceps, it all means different things to different people. Hair loss can thread its way through every part of a man’s life, from his relationships to his career, his social life to his sex life. A good many men turn to substance abuse to cope when their life spirals as a result of their deep loss of self-esteem. Some become workaholics to keep busy and ‘invisible’. Whatever is your poison or coping mechanism, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Not just because I’ve been there but because life is too short to suffer in silence over an issue you can do something about! I am just like you, a man who began to notice my hair thinning and started to feel like less of a man. If, by following me you can prevail over that sentiment sooner rather than later, then you’ll be able to pick yourself up quickly, find out about the treatment options appropriate for you and get on with your life!
I write for a variety of publications including regular columns in The Telegraph and The Huffington Post, You can also listen to me in the UK on The Bald Truth radio programme where I co-host with Spencer Kobren who is the founder of the American Hair Loss Association and The International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons, and Joe Tillman, aka ‘the Original Hair Transplant Mentor’. Every week, men dealing with hair loss call in to the show to talk about their experiences and how losing their hair has impacted them emotionally. And of course, you can read a good deal of material on my own website, spexhair.com, or follow me on Instagram or Facebook.Whatever you do, don’t panic! There are solutions out there and you will find the right course of action for you.
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