In the world of celebrity actors and athletes, it’s rare to see a public figure be upfront with fans regarding procedures like hair transplants. That’s why it was so refreshing to see that Wayne Rooney, one of England’s most beloved footballers, put up a post on social media when he decided to undergo the procedure back in 2011.
Like all celebrity hair transplants, we can learn some valuable lessons from Rooney’s experience, even more so due to his transparency with the public. We can clearly see when Rooney had his surgery, how he recovered, and how his results have held up over time.
Let’s talk about Rooney’s hair transplant story from beginning to end and see what this generation’s hair transplant patients can learn that will help them in their efforts now.
Before we assess the techniques and results of any hair transplant, it helps to know more about an individual’s hair loss situation before they underwent the procedure. This gives us context and allows us to gauge the overall effectiveness of the surgery over time.
In Rooney’s case, we start way back at the beginning of the athlete’s career, when he made the Everton squad at the young age of 16. Rooney was a phenomenon and the pride of England by the time he reached 18 and switched over to Manchester United, but his hair wasn’t as reliable as his scoring skill.
According to his own social media posts – and plenty of on-screen evidence – Rooney was showing signs of balding as early as 2008, at the age of 22. Admittedly, few people of his age are under the immense pressure of being England’s top football prospect, so stress was a likely factor for Rooney in his early career.
But by the time he turned 25, Rooney was ready to do something about his hair, which had receded considerably in the typical Norwood scale pattern for male alopecia. His hairline took on a distinct M-shape, leaving a small island of hair in the center of his frontal scalp. A bald spot behind his crown was also beginning to appear and connect to the frontal region.
This shows that hair loss can affect young men rather early, since most of Rooney’s balding occurred in his early 20s.
We know that Rooney opted for multiple hair transplants in his 20s, since he broadcast it all over social media and drew attention from major media outlets in Britain. Here’s what we know about each procedure and any follow-up treatments he may have attempted after.
We know that Rooney’s first transplant took place in 2011, but some of the details remain unclear – we have to speculate to fill in the blanks in the story using the information we have.
Firstly, we can determine the type of procedure that Rooney underwent based on the volume of hair he had transplanted and other factors.
Back in 2011, the Follicle Unit Excision (FUE) methodology was finally going mainstream after its introduction in the early 2000s. Rumors circulated that Rooney was one of the first public figures to attempt this type of surgery, but some details suggest otherwise.
One clue indicates that the transplant was an FUT “strip surgery” procedure rather than FUE – and that clue is the sheer volume of grafts. Before-and-after photos reveal the extent of Rooney’s hair loss at the time of his surgery, showing that most of his hair had thinned or fallen out on the front half of his head.
Based on rough approximations, it appears that Rooney had at least 5,000 grafts transplanted, which would be a very high volume FUE transplant. More likely, Rooney had a more traditional FUT strip surgery, which would ensure a lower transection (damage) rate and longer-lasting results.
While FUE has advanced in many ways since its introduction, Rooney probably opted for a complete FUT treatment to achieve this significant transformation.
At the time, Rooney was in the spotlight for having a hair transplant at such a young age, but the star shrugged it off as no big deal. Rooney was a hair transplant pioneer in this sense, as celebs typically kept these things out of the public eye.
Rooney’s first transplant was deemed a success at the time, and his results were apparent as soon as he hit the pitch at the start of the next season. The next time Rooney appeared in a match, fans and announcers were pleased to see his youthful looks return in full.
However, these results wore thin soon enough, as Rooney was back in the clinic less than two years later. The star returned for a secondary hair restoration procedure, but he wasn’t as vocal about his experience this time around.
Since Rooney had already spent tens of thousands of dollars on his first transplant, he probably wasn’t too happy to be back at square one after just a couple of years.
To say that his first hair transplant was a failure wouldn’t be accurate, as he probably continued losing his natural hair after the transplant. The newly implanted hair stayed, but his natural hair loss progressed.
Often patients continue to lose hair after a first transplant, and a second or third hair transplant is needed to fill in the areas as the loss continues. The transplanted hair is permanent but the natural hair can continue to shed as it would have with or without a transplant.
The question then is whether Rooney had a secondary FUT procedure or instead opted for FUE for his follow-up. Since FUT requires the removal of a substantial hair-bearing strip of skin, Rooney was likely advised to attempt FUE, which would harvest a smaller volume of hair.
FUE would make the most of Rooney’s remaining donor hair while also minimizing the chance of scarring, which is important for his particular hairstyle. This secondary procedure was also smaller in scope and more subtle in terms of results.
Although his follow-up surgery was successful in filling in more of the natural hair loss, Rooney still encountered struggles with his hairline further along in his career.
As he entered his veteran years as a player, Rooney was once again scrutinized for thinning hair that seemed to ebb and flow with Manchester’s match schedule. Rooney would step onto the pitch one day with a full head of hair, only to appear the next week with bald patches and wispy strands across the scalp.
Today, the player-turned-manager is in his 40s, and his hair has seen better days. He likely uses fiber, fillers, and the occasional hair system to maintain greater coverage for TV appearances, but he is still more than likely balding in most areas.
Rooney’s legend lives on in the soccer world, but his hair transplant is a cautionary tale. We learned that Rooney had at least two separate surgeries, both of which came up short in terms of prolonged results as he continued to experience hair loss of his natural hair.
So what is the takeaway for patients who don’t want to find themselves in Rooney’s situation? Here are some tips to keep in mind when planning your hair restoration journey.
It’s never too early to start thinking about hair restoration, even at a young age like Rooney at 25 years old or older. The average age range for developing male pattern balding is the late 20s to early 30s, but this doesn’t mean you should wait until it’s too late if you notice the signs.
Start a conversation with a hair restoration pro as soon as you notice thinning and receding. Even if the physician doesn’t advise you to undergo a hair transplant, doctors like Jae Pak, M.D. can put you on track for the best treatment available to get ahead of the issue.
While nobody wants to relive Rooney’s experience with two consecutive hair transplants, follow-up procedures may be needed in some cases. Ideally, surgeries will be spread out over time, allowing hair to take root and grow as needed.
In a perfect world, only one treatment would do the job. However, some patients achieve the best long-term results with several treatments over a longer period.
Keep in mind that a second surgery may not be the answer, either. Non-invasive treatments like microchanneling and others are improving all the time and can help maintain a hair transplant for far longer. Once again, this is why working with a dedicated hair restoration expert is so important at every stage.
Wayne Rooney is a football legend by all standards, but his hairline wasn’t able to hold strong throughout his career. Despite two procedures and other potential treatments, he struggled to maintain his hair due to genetics or other external conditions.
We can learn a lot from Rooney’s experience, however, and apply these lessons moving forward. Be sure to take the long-term approach to hair restoration and make the most out of your investment, no matter what your goals may be.
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