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Embarrassing? Yes. Eye-watering? Definitely. ANDREW PIERCE was horrified to discover he had thinning hair but 55 excruciating injections (and wearing a hot water bottle) worked wonders

May 13, 2013

When Prince William sported the tell-tale  signs of following in the tradition of Windsor men and losing his hair, I was  the first to gleefully report it.

And after David Cameron became Leader of the  Opposition in 2005, I spotted from my perch in the press gallery of the House of  Commons that he, too, was thinning on top.

After a good squint, I realised that, in  addition to his usual left-to-right quiff, Mr Cameron combed his hair backwards  over the bare patch, creating a rather peculiar double parting.

Andrew Pierce wears a heated water bottle on his head as part of a treatment to encourage the growth of hair at the Freedom Health clinic on Harley Street, LondonAndrew Pierce wears a heated water bottle on his head as  part of a treatment to encourage the growth of hair at the Freedom Health clinic  on Harley Street, London

When I bumped into Mr Cameron outside the  House of Commons a few days after my revelation about his follicular  embarrassment, he let rip. ‘I’m furious with you, Piercey,’ he bellowed. I  laughed it off. After all, I’ve known the Prime Minister since he was a young  researcher at Tory Central Office and even then he was terribly image-conscious.

Unlike me. After all, I was a hardened hack,  a man who delighted in exposing the foibles and vanities of others. A footling  thing such as a receding hairline wouldn’t bother me!

Or so I thought. Today, some years after  exposing two of the most prominent men in the land as tonsorially challenged,  fate has dealt me a cruel hand in revenge. My hair is disappearing, too — and  fast. I’ve long had the odd grey hair, and I could cope with those just fine.  But the discovery two years ago that I was going bald was too much to bear.

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It was far more painful than the onset of  crow’s feet, wrinkles or my sagging midriff. My hair loss struck at my very  soul.

Baldness generally begins, as millions of men  know only too well, with a thinning of hair from the crown or top of the head,  and a similar regression of the hairline around the temples.

This is usually due to increased levels of a  type of testosterone that causes the hair follicles to narrow, impeding growth.

Baldness can also be caused by a physical or  mental trauma, or chronic illness. It’s a sign that the body is downgrading the  importance of hair growth to concentrate on more salient issues. In this case,  hair can grow back when the body returns to normal.

My condition, though, is more  straightforward. It’s called middle age.  But that didn’t make it any less  of a terrible shock.

Male pattern baldness is caused by an unlucky  stroke of genetics and seems to be passed down predominantly through the  mother’s side. So, if your maternal grandfather or uncles are bald, be warned:  you may lose your hair, too. As I’m adopted and have never traced my blood  family, I have no older male relatives to observe.

BEFORE: Andrew Pierce's hair before any procedures had taken placeBEFORE: Andrew Pierce’s hair before any procedures had  taken place

With no history to fall back on, I had no way  of predicting whether I would be lucky enough to have a full mane of hair like  Michael Heseltine as the years advanced or whether I would end up looking like a  slimmer version of Friar Tuck.

As I approached the big 50 in February 2011,  I felt as if I had dodged the baldness bullet that had afflicted so many of my  contemporaries. Then, my very own sword of Damocles fell, taking my hair with  it.

By chance, I saw a film of me on a platform  at a public speaking engagement in Cardiff the previous October — and my eye was  caught by a white glimmer on my head. At first, I thought I was imagining it.  So I re-ran the film. Endlessly.

There was no doubt about it. There was a  distinct expanse of white scalp on the crown of my head. I was mortified. I  phoned my three closest friends. The first two sheepishly admitted they had long  seen my baldness developing, but hadn’t mentioned it because they didn’t want to  upset me.

My third friend bravely decided to lighten  the mood by telling a joke. I can still remember it: ‘A man goes to the doctor  and says: “Doctor, doctor, my hair keeps falling out. Can you give me anything  to keep it in?” The doctor replies: “Yes, here’s a paper bag.” ’ Hilarious?  No, me neither.

When I quizzed my hairdresser, I found he,  too, was guilty of fibbing about the state of my follicles. He tried to reassure  me that going bald was fashionable — but then he is a thirtysomething version of  Bruce Willis, so he would, wouldn’t he?

While it’s true there are plenty of poster  boys for the nervously thinning-haired male — such as Hollywood acting hunks  Jude Law (who until recently used to hide his depleted locks under a cap, even  on the red carpet), Vin Diesel and Jason Statham — I was secretly haunted by  fears that I would end up looking naff and bald. Think Foreign Secretary William  Hague and his wretched baseball cap.

By then, I was in a real state. What would  baldness do to me? Would it dampen my natural joie de vivre? Shatter my  boundless confidence?

AFTER: Pierce says he feels more confident, attractive and younger as a result of the treatmentAFTER: Pierce says he feels more confident, attractive  and younger as a result of the treatment

I couldn’t help but think of former Liberal  Democrat MP Mark Oaten. If I was to believe him, hair loss could cause all  manner of problems.

He was happily married with two lovely  children until, he claimed, his rapidly receding locks caused a mid-life crisis.  This in turn, said Oaten, led him to seek distraction in sex, culminating in a  rather squalid scandal in 2006.

He wrote at the time how hair loss had come  to completely overshadow his political life: ‘Any TV appearance would result in  a barrage of emails not about the issues I’d raised, but about my lack of hair.  Whether supportive or not, they all asked what had happened to my hair. ‘It’s perhaps not surprising that I became more and more obsessed by its  disappearance.’

Now, I’m not suggesting that, like Oaten, I’m  so depressed that I am about to embark on sordid sexual shenanigans as  compensation for my receding hairline. But losing my hair felt like the most  public signal of my loss of youth.

The reverberations were endless. Even the  simple act of showering became torturous. To see my hairs disappearing down the  plughole was horrifying. I even began to wash it less often in the vain hope it  would slow down the process.

When that didn’t work, I tried having my hair  cut more, in the misplaced belief it would grow back quicker and thicker.

Pierce felt that losing his hair was a public signal of his loss of youthPierce felt that losing his hair was a public signal of  his loss of youth

Obviously, looking back, I was kidding  myself. Most people’s hair grows about half an inch each month irrespective of  cutting.

And so I resorted to products to cover the  gaps. I invested in hair wax to try to plaster my hair over the bald zone. This  had only very limited success.

As a last resort, I started to use the gym  exercise bars to hang upside down in an attempt to create a rush of blood to my  scalp, which I hoped would stimulate hair growth. I only succeeded in almost  breaking my neck. It was hopeless.

So, like many other hopeless cases the world  over, I resorted to scouring the internet for a cure. I was desperate to avoid  the dreaded comb-over. Surely there was a pill or something that would help me?

I quickly found out hair loss for men is big  business. There are 5.5 million hair products for men, many of which are devoted  to stopping it disappearing.

A few weeks before my 50th birthday, I went  for the magic pill route: Propecia, which costs around £660 for a year’s supply.  You need to have a prescription, but apparently it works well at saving hair on  the crown of the head.

There was one drawback, though. The tablets  can adversely affect your libido.

To hell with it, I thought, and bought them  anyway — to no avail. The relentless march of baldness continued. I gave the  trichologist approved drops a whirl. All you have to do is rub them into your  head. They cost £52 and last six weeks, but they were useless.

Then I discovered a treatment called  Nanopeptide Mesotherapy. It involves a cocktail of vitamins and minerals  injected directly into the scalp.

It is claimed this stimulates the hair’s  natural regeneration process by strengthening it, while energising the follicles  to produce long hair shafts.

I signed up for a two-month course with Lee  Garrett, an aesthetic practitioner at Freedom Health in Harley Street. I decided  not to tell my closest friends what I was up to, curious as to whether they’d  see the difference and also slightly embarrassed about where my hair-loss  obsession was taking me.

It wasn’t going to come cheap. Each session  weighed in at £350 and involved 55 injections. It all sounded rather  eye-watering, physically and financially. But I was relieved to find each  session would be over in less than ten minutes.

Did it hurt? Thankfully not. The injections  felt like a series of small pinpricks that were only fleetingly uncomfortable.

Each night during the treatment, I had to  attach a hot water bottle to my head for 15 minutes to stimulate blood flow.  This, the experts say, helps to secrete oil from the scalp which, in turn,  pushes out the hair. The results are remarkable. My hair is thicker and  stronger, and my bald patch has shrunk in just  eight weeks.

Pierce received a telling-off from Prime Minister David Cameron after revealing he had developed a bald spot on his headPierce received a telling-off from Prime Minister David  Cameron after revealing he had developed a bald spot on his head

Lee, who went bald when he was 30, says it’s  too late for him to rescue his own hair: it only works if there is still a  decent mane. But he has clients — male and female — who have suffered partial  alopecia and even they have noticed an improvement. The treatment also helps  those who have been through chemotherapy.

So, what did my good friends think?  Impressively, all of them, independently, have remarked on the  transformation.

After seven sessions, my treatment is  complete. I have to go back in six months for a top-up, and every six months  after that. I’m also using a special shampoo and conditioner and persevering  with the hot water bottle when I remember.

I must admit that some of my other friends  think I should have gone bald gracefully. But now I’ve been through the painful  process of thinning up top, I can see what a cruel blow hair loss can be,  especially to men of a certain age and vanity.

The thickness of a man’s hair instantly  conveys power, attractiveness and energy; thinning inescapably suggests your  potency and vigour are slipping away.

I’m not alone in feeling this. Many  high-profile men have felt the pang of loss when their hair begins to thin.

Some, like me, have resorted to rather  extreme measures. Famously, footballer Wayne Rooney invested £30,000 in a hair  transplant. But I’d never do that. I’ve seen the results of hair transplants  close up and it’s like sporting a mini-version of the Bayeaux Tapestry on your  head.

Today, I feel more confident, attractive and  young. My partner’s noticed the spring in my step and has taken a close interest  in the outcome, as his own hair is thinning. So I’ve booked him in for  injections.

If you’re feeling a bit light on top, I  suggest you do the same. As Samson discovered to his cost, a man isn’t anything  without a full head of hair.

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