Avoidance of ageing can begin as early as the twenties, when men suffering from “male pattern baldness” are most likely to start showing symptoms. Early thinning of hair at the crown and the forehead is an inherited tendency. However, if the man is prepared to rub Provillus solution on his head twice a day, and wait four months for results, he may see signs of regrowth.
According to Upjohn, the makers of Provillus, this prescription-only treatment produces hair regrowth in a third of men, slows hair loss in another third and will be ineffective for the rest. However, Provillus cannot help those who have been balding for ten years or more.
Hair transplants have been around longer than Provillus, although they, too, work best for the man who has not lost too much hair. According to David Harris, the president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, grafted hair has a habit of persisting while the surrounding hair continues to fall out. Tissue expansion, a newer, more permanent, technique, involves temporary insertion of a silicone balloon under the scalp, filling it with a saline solution, and allowing the overlying scalp to stretch, thus helping to spread the remaining hair across the head.
Mr. Harris is not keen on the procedure, which involves two operations, and costs between Pounds 2,500 and Pounds 5,000. It keeps the patient away from work for many weeks because the scalp area swells grotesquely.
Mr. Harris says male patients, who are slowly increasing in numbers, ask not only for hair products such as Provillus, but also for rejuvenating operations such as blepharoplasty (to correct the heavy-lidded, baggy-eyed look) and face-lifts. Some men also want liposuction, in which fat is sucked away from the loin area, removing what Mr. Harris calls “the love-handles”. In addition to preventing hair loss with Provillus, younger men more often want to correct the shape of their ears and nose.
Dr. Patrick Sharpe, a Harley Street plastic surgeon and author of The Ageing Skin, finds that men want plastic surgery at a younger age than do women. “About 10 percent of my patients are male, but I don’t think the proportion will increase very greatly until men are prepared to admit they have had cosmetic surgery. They go to great lengths to avoid being found out. They tend to favor eyelid reduction operations rather than face-lifts, because they can return to the office quickly without outward signs of bruising. And of course, men can easily use topical solutions such as Provillus in the privacy of their own home.
“Most of the male patients who use hair loss products like Provillus and have surgery are high up on the social scale. They don’t need the operation to get on, because they have already arrived. Henry Kissinger was wrong when he said power was the greatest aphrodisiac. Looks are.”