CAREERS: Hair doctor – Daily Nation

By JAMES KAHONGEH
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Jared Babu, 36, is an expert in micropigmentation, and is one of only a handful of specialists in the country who treat alopecia, or abnormal hair loss. After his university education in hair transplant, scalp micropigmentation and trichology at the University of Florida in the US, he returned to Kenya in 2012 to set up Artistic Hair Centre, a facility in Nairobi that does micro scalping and hair transplant. 

What does micro scalping entail?

This is a process where natural pigments are applied at the epidermal level of the scalp to replicate the natural appearance of real hair follicles. The process uses a cartridge with three needles which gently inject an organic pigment into the second dermal layer of the scalp. The spacing of the pigment is determined by the extent of the person’s hair loss and their desired look. The specialist does this by duplicating the remaining natural hair follicles on the person’s head.

Why do people procure scalp micropigmentation?

This procedure is done for both medical and cosmetic purposes. According to a study by the American Academy of Dermatology, it is normal to lose between 50 and 100 hairs daily. Scalp micropigmentation is suitable for all types and stages of hair loss, colours and skin types, and can restore full-bodied hair on a completely bald head. Micro scalping also hides scars from injuries or previous surgeries on the scalp, birthmarks or burns. Micro scalping may also be used to boost the visual effect of a hair transplant procedure. 

What does a hair transplant procedure involve?

To carry out a hair transplant, the client must have enough hair on their head. Hair is uprooted from the client’s head, specifically from the back of the head, and transplanted elsewhere. The process involves removing the individual grafts of hair from the root one by one. These grafts are then preserved in a saline solution. After getting the required number, these hairs are implanted on the part of the scalp where they are needed by punching the scalp with a needle and tweezers. Hair transplant is more expensive because it is charged per individual strand of hair implanted.

What is the difference between hair transplant and micro scalping?

Hair transplanting is a fairly complex surgical procedure, while micro scalping is not surgical in nature; it takes about two hours to work on an adult’s head. A hair transplant is only possible for someone who has a certain density of hair. Micro scalping however is possible for even people who are totally bald. While hair transplant is more common among older people who have lost hair due to advanced age, micro scalping is mostly sought after by young people, primarily for cosmetic reasons. 

 

What motivated you to study micro pigmentation and hair transplant?

Initially, I wanted to be a hairdresser, but I also wanted to do something unique. I had read agonising stories about people who had suffered hair loss and their fruitless search to find reliable professional help in the country. It is then that I decided to study hair restoration and transplant. While I can perform both, I focus more on the latter because this is what brings in more money. That said, my overriding motivation is to help people regain their dignity by restoring their lost hair and looks.

Jared Babu, 36, is an expert in

Jared Babu, 36, is an expert in micropigmentation, and is one of only a handful of specialists in the country who treat alopecia, or abnormal hair loss. PHOTO| KANYIRI WAHITO

Who are your clients? And is scalp micropigmentation a fulfilling profession? 

I treat male and female clients of all ages, but women hoping to correct the damage caused by over-processing and over-plaiting their hair constitute a significant proportion of my clients. Most young people prefer micro scalping because it is cheaper. I have an average of 15 clients a month, which earns me a decent living – micro scalping costs between Sh60,000 and Sh200,000 depending on the portion of the head being worked on, while hair transplant costs between Sh60,000 and Sh120,000. Cost depends on the size of the patch to be transplanted and the distribution of hair on the person’s head. While there is currently no institution that offers trichology in the country, the demand for hair transplant and micro scalping is high. I am currently the only specialist in Kenya who performs micro scalping.

Are there shortcomings in hair restoration; how do you overcome these challenges?

It is not always possible to achieve 100 per cent of the desired results. And not everyone can have a hair transplant. People with low hair density or baldness that has eaten up hair in the donor area cannot undergo the procedure. For such clients, I suggest micro scalping instead. Hair transplant is tedious; it involves removing one strand of hair after the other and implanting it, which takes a minimum of eight hours. The human head has an average of 2,000 strands of hair per square inch of the scalp, I therefore, carry out the procedure in three sessions spread in a month. Sometimes the client loses patience, but with constant reassurance, we are able to complete the procedure. I routinely advise clients about possible outcomes before getting started.  

What are some of the factors that cause hair loss? How can one maintain healthy hair?

Ninety per cent of hair loss is genetic. If you lose hair, especially at a fairly young age, chances are that someone in your family tree had a similar problem. Illness, infection, use of medication and certain hair chemicals all interfere with the hair follicle, causing breakage of hair and growth of weak strands. Genetic loss of hair is treatable through hair transplant. Always investigate the composition of hair products before using them. Eat plenty of foods with zinc, vitamins D and E, proteins and omega-3 fatty acids.