It is a problem that men have with their hair or, more and more often, it is a problem they used to have. If in recent photos someone has more hair than they used to, then suspicions are founded. They have had a hair transplant.
There are a great many supposed remedies and antidotes for all types for baldness, from miraculous to repugnant. Silica sand has been conferred with powers that have not been proven in practice. Shampoos to prevent hair loss are an expensive alternative to traditional ones. Modern medicine, however, does have something to contribute, in the form of hair transplants. Today, this is the only technique whose effectiveness has been proven against alopecia and the demand for these treatments is on the increase. Clinics in Spain offer the same services and more guarantees than those in other countries, so it is not necessary to travel to undergo the procedure.
Malaga is now one of the cities with the most clinics of this type: with currently 19 offering this type of treatment. Private clinics, hair centres and private hospitals carry out hair transplants, and more and more people are asking for treatment. "In 2015 I was doing two or three a month, and now it is about 15. People are more interested than before," says Felicidad Espinosa. This highly experienced 56-year-old GP did the first Masters degree in hair transplants that was available in Spain, at the University of Alcalá. "That was in 2014. There were 14 of us, and half were from other countries. Now, more doctors are studying it. People think it is a way of earning a lot of money quickly, but it isn't. The learning curve is very slow and you need a great deal of practise to become skilled at it," she says.
Felicidad works for Medecap. The clinic opened three and a half years ago in Malaga and offers individualised treatment. "Everybody is different. Some people need about 3,000 follicular units, but those with advanced alopecia might need around 6,000," she explains.
The follicular unit is the key. The hairs are extracted one by one from the donor area and transplanted in the area which has lost hair. The cost of the treatment largely depends on the number of follicular units needed for a satisfactory result.
"The price is two euros per follicular unit. The fact that so many clinics have opened up has had an effect on prices. Some charge less than a euro per follicular unit now, but you notice the difference in quality," says Felicidad
One of the keys is individualised treatment. The only time a hair transplant won't work is if the alopecia is very severe and there are no donor areas. "In Spain, if there is no point in carrying out the procedure we tell the patient. They don't do that in Turkey," says Felicidad.
Turkey is very famous for hair transplants. When people in Spain were having to pay between 15,000 and 20,000 euros, Turkey seduced them with cheaper prices. The gap has been closing in recent years, though, and in Malaga there are plenty of affordable options.
The cost in Malaga
Jordi Villalobos runs two clinics in Malaga, Medecap and Capilarix. He also has clinics in Madrid, and knows the market well. He explains that in Malaga low-cost procedures coexist alongside premium services. There are all-in packages available for 2,790 euros, but the premium treatments are normally twice as expensive. In these clinics they work with a tool called an implanter. It is a type of ballpoint pen which is used to introduce the follicular units and it gives the best results. This technique increases the price, though, which can rise to 6,000 euros.
Jordi says the growing number of clinics in Malaga is due to the type of city it is. "Malaga has everything. There is a lot of tourism and it is really busy in the summer, so brands want to be located here," he explains.
The principal advantage of Spain over Turkey is in the security offered to patients here. "At Medecap you know that the operation will be carried out by a doctor. If there is any problem the clinic and the doctor are responsible for sorting it out," he says. It is also a non-debilitating treatment. Apart from practising sport, patients can lead a normal life as soon as they walk out of the clinic.