Gone today, hair tomorrow: chef Ramsay has £30,000 transplant

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The Independent Online

After a difficult period in which he has endured a public falling out with his in-laws, seen his restaurant empire falter and had his recipes voted among the unhealthiest in the world by doctors, Gordon Ramsay's looks might have seemed the least of his woes.

But pictures of the famously hot-tempered TV chef leaving a leading hair treatment clinic in Los Angeles sporting a surgical cap appear to confirm that the 44-year-old has received further cosmetic intervention to enhance his on-screen appearance.

It was reported yesterday that Ramsay has had a £30,000 hair transplant. He has previously been said to have undergone teeth whitening and – on the advice of Simon Cowell – Botox injections to flatten out his crinkly chin.

Under the latest procedure known as follicular unit extraction, it is claimed that the Michelin-starred Ramsay has had patches of thriving hair removed from sites on the back of his head and inserted among the sparser regions higher up.

Viewers of his TV shows will most likely have been unaware of the apparently hirsute Kitchen Nightmares star's anxieties. But reports yesterday quoted a "source" as saying: "While his hair may not have been obviously receding, it had become an issue for him.

"Some will call it vanity but to TV producers and Gordon it's a pre-emptive action to stop him suddenly going on TV with obvious thinning."

Ramsay was treated at the Alvi Armani centre in Beverly Hills, where he was dropped off by a limousine. It is one of a global chain of clinics owned by renowned transplant surgeon Dr Antonio Armani.

The Italian, who takes his inspiration from the anatomical sketches of Marcus Vitruvius and Leonardo Da Vinci, considers himself as much artist as technician and insists that his team of handpicked surgeons treat their patients like "their best friend or younger brother".

According to his website: "Dr Antonio Armani is attentive, understanding and very sensitive to his patients' needs."

It adds: "Throughout your consultation, preparations and final procedure, Dr Antonio Armani will do everything he can to make you feel comfortable and confident in your decision."

Follicular unit extraction is a specialist procedure in which a surgeon employs a 1mm diameter punch to extract the healthy follicle from the scalp without causing damage before implanting it again elsewhere allowing up to 6,000 grafts in one day.

Follicles at the back of the head are less sensitive to the circulating male hormone which causes hair to thin and shorten. Once relocated they continue to behave as if they are still alive.

Male-pattern baldness, of the sort believed to be affecting Ramsay, is a genetic condition passed down by either mother or father and can sometimes leave one brother bald while another sports a full head of hair late into life.

It is estimated that £2.3bn is spent each year in the United States on treatments for hair loss. Cosmetic hair surgery is only available privately in Britain.

Dr David Fenton, consultant dermatologist at St John's Institute of Dermatology, St Thomas' Hospital, London, said that a successful procedure depended on two things: "Enough hair to supply the back of the scalp and finding the best surgeon you can to get an undetectable end result".

He also sympathised with Ramsay's plight. "You cannot underestimate the psychological impact on any person. It can be emotionally devastating," he said.

Gordon, you're not alone...

James Nesbitt

The 45-year-old Cold Feet actor admits his hair loss became an obsession that drove him to undergo not one but two transplants. He has always been completely open about his decision. "It's changed my life," he once said. "It's horrible going bald. Anyone who says it isn't is lying."

John Cleese

The 71-year-old Monty Python star may have appeared follicly under-resourced for much of his long career but two years ago he revealed that things had come to a head. Asked why he had transplants, he said: "Because I have got a very strange-shaped skull, very pointy, and I don't like wearing wigs."

Shane Warne

Australia's greatest ever bowler and lately, consort to Elizabeth Hurley, has become a poster boy for a procedure known as the advance hair and scalp fitness programme, which involves using a "laser comb", thickening shampoos and antioxidant pills. The 41-year-old has convinced a generation of fellow baldies to overcome their inhibitions with the catchphrase: "Hair worries are out!" But adverts for the treatment, which featured Warne as well as fellow cricketer, Graham Gooch, were banned by the Advertising Standards Authority last year for being misleading.

Austin Healey

The former England and British Lions rugby player was another sportsman to endorse laser treatment to combat a receding hairline and what he called the "devastating effects of baldness".