Men not so 'bald' as to put leg hair on head

Petaling Jaya (The Star/ANN) - A new US study, which suggested that leg hair can be a good option to treat male pattern baldness, still seems fuzzy to local dermatologists and balding men.

Although the practice has not reached Malaysian shores, people like Ismail Mohsin balk at it.

"It just feels icky. I can't imagine having leg hair on my head," said the 27-year-old writer who is gradually accepting his receding hairline.

"After all, our leg hair might have a different shade," he joked.

The New York Times reported on Feb 21 that the procedure "has the potential to restore the hairlines of millions of men with male pattern baldness, the most common cause of hair loss and often an enormous source of stress".

It quoted a study on two cases published in The Archives of Dermatology and University of California associate instructor of dermatology Dr Sanusi Umar, who observed the transplanting of leg hair follicles from two patients' legs to their heads.

In each case, the report said that Dr Umar "extracted about 1,000 leg hair follicles and grafted them to the patients' hairlines" and that almost 80% of the transplanted leg hair "grew successfully".

Student Muhammad Iqbal Ismail, 24, who is experiencing early signs of male pattern baldness, said he was open to the procedure.

"If I can afford it, I might go for it," he said.

Research assistant James Lim, 27, also would not mind trying it out.

However, the price tag may put off many people.

According to the Malaysian Society for Hair Sciences president Dr Steven Chow, follicular hair transplants costs about RM20,000 to RM30,000 per session.

Most men only require one session to see results while some may need two or three sessions.

"There are qualified surgeons who can perform this in Malaysia but no centre is doing it on a full-time basis," said Dr Chow.

Furthermore, Dr Chow said the procedure might not work well with local men because it is only suitable for those who have "massive, thick hair growth on their legs" (with enough hair follicles to harvest).

Dr Chow said common first-line treatments available are oral medications and lotions.

He also stressed that transplants must be done by trained doctors.

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