HOW SURGEON ASIM SHAHMALAK PERFORMED BRITAIN’S FIRST EYELASH TRANSPLANT
Dr Asim Shahmalak performed Britain’s first eyelash transplant four years ago on a female patient who had been suffering from trichotillomania (TTM).
The patient had suffered from TTM from the ages of six to 15 – pulling out her eyelashes at times of stress.
This had caused permanent damage to her eyelashes – and the only long-term solution was an eyelash transplant
The patient came to Dr Shahmalak aged 19 and he performed two successful eyelash transplants to restore her missing eyelashes.
Hair was taken from the back of her scalp and transplanted into her eyelids in two intricate four-hour operations, which were being performed for the first time in Britain.
The pictures show how the patient’s eyelashes were transformed by the operations.
In the before pictures, the tops of her eyelids are almost completely bald with just a few lashes at the side of her eyes pre-surgery photograph
In the after pictures, taken following two transplants three months apart, the damaged eyelashes are completely restored post-surgery photograph
The patient is now able to wear heavy make-up on her transplanted eyelashes and lead a normal life after years of torment sparked by TTM, which affects 3.4% of women in Britain.
Her TTM caused permanent damage to the hair follicles, meaning her eyelashes would not grow back.
She covered up the eyelids with eyeliner and wore false eyelashes until she realised that there was a permanent solution to her problems with a transplant.
She was so pleased with her first transplant that she had a second transplant months later so that she could have even fuller eyebrows.
Both operations were carried out Dr Shahmalak, who is the only surgeon in the UK currently doing eyelash transplants.
Dr Shahmalak threaded the transplanted hair through the upper eyelid in the same spot where the natural eyelashes had grown.
The implants have grown just like head hair and have needed regular trimming and curling.
The patient said: “From the age of six I suffered from trichotillomania which had a profound effect on my life both physically, mentally and psychologically.
“As I became older I was more aware of what others around would think and it consequently had a great effect on my confidence.
“When I got to the age of 13 I began to cover up the noticeable gaps with eyeliner.
“However, I was still very much afraid that other individuals would find out, especially when it came to school because make-up was just not allowed.
“By the age of 15, I had overcome trichotillomania but I was still left with the effects of the years of pulling out my eyeslashes, as they just did not grow back.
“I recall thinking that if there was some procedure that could replace the missing eyelashes then my life would be changed forever as I would not have to wake up in the morning and put make-up on to cover it up before even seeing other members of my family.”
The patient said the two successful transplants had ended what she described as ‘a 17 year nightmare.’
She said: “Dr Shahmalak arranged for a beauty therapist to be present which was really useful as she was able to advise me how to care for my eyelashes and also what products to use to ensure they remain in great condition.
“Following my eyelash transplants, I am a much more confident person – saying this has transformed my life would be an under-estimation.
“I am now confident enough to walk around with no make-up on and even go shopping which, in the past, I would never have done.”
Eyelash transplants have been common in America for years but they have only started to be used in the UK in the last four years.
Growing numbers of women are turning to eyelash transplants after damaging their natural lashes through repeated use of false eyelashes.
Others are seeking transplants due to trichotillomania.
Sam Faiers, 21, who stars in the TV show The Only Way Is Essex, has suffered from the condition since she was seven and has no eyelashes.
Some women also want fuller eyelashes for cosmetic reasons. Celebrities like Cheryl Cole have made big eyelashes very fashionable.
Dr Shahmalak has pioneered the treatment in Britain which is also often performed on burns and road traffic accident victims who have lost their eyelashes after being injured.
He said: “It’s a very difficult procedure when you are working around the eye. But it was a complete success.
“She will have to trim the lashes every week to ten days because hair taken from the back of the head grows much longer.
“When she was as teenager she realised she had made a mistake.
“Once she had the procedure she wrote me a letter to say it had changed her life.”
Dr Shahmalak said that there had been a surge in demand for eyelash transplants since that first operation.
He said: “There has been a big increase in referrals for two reasons.
“Firstly, because of brave women like Sam Faiers, more women are becoming aware of trichotillomania and seeking help.
“Secondly, the fashion for big eyelashes has meant that more women are wearing false eyelashes and damaging their natural lashes. The glue used to fix the lashes can pull natural eyelashes out as the fake set is removed. If repeated frequently it can stop hair growing. As with any hair follicle, eyelashes will cease to grow if they are repeatedly plucked out at the root.
“Hair transplant surgery may seem like a radical solution, but in many cases it is the only way of restoring eyelashes permanently.”
Dr Shahmalak is a most most respected hair transplant surgeon.
He was a general surgeon in the NHS for 10 years before setting up the Crown Clinic in Manchester.
He also treats patients at clinics in Harley Street, London, and Dublin. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
Dr Shahmalak is a regular on TV and recently performed a hair transplant procedure on Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies.
He has performed hair transplants on a number of celebrities including Christian Jessen, star of Embarrassing Bodies, the Olympic diver Peter Waterfield and Martin Roberts, star of BBC1’s Homes Under The Hammer.
Mr Asim Iqbal Shahmalak FRCS MTTS
10 Harley Street, London.
Thorley House, Bailey Lane, Manchester Airport M90 4AB.
0161 437 4333 – 08452 100 300