Eileen Thomas is ecstatic that a lifetime’s practice of arranging her hair to cover up bald spots is now over with.
Mrs Thomas, who suffered burns to her scalp as a seven month old baby, has been unable to grow hair on the scarred parts of her head for most of her life.
However, a hair restoration procedure developed and performed by hair restoration specialist, Dr Jennifer Martinick, has changed all that for her.
In September 2004, Mrs Thomas had 350 hair follicles transplanted to a bald spot above her forehead.
Now sporting a thick growth of hair in her former bald spot, she is sharing her story in the hope she can help others who have experienced similar traumas.
Mrs Thomas said she was overwhelmed that the wounds which prevented her from growing hair for almost five decades could be healed by a short afternoon procedure.
The transplant cost her just over $2,500.
Mrs Thomas’ bald spots stems back to an accident in Dundee, Scotland when as a seven month-old she fell out of her pram and into a coal fire.
From then on she was unable to grow hair in the coal-cinder scarred parts of her head.
She spent her childhood and most of her adult life trying to cover up her bald patches with hats, headbands and careful positioning of her hair.
“I was very self conscious about my bald spots, but didn’t do anything about it because it wasn’t life threatening,” said Mrs Thomas.
“I was also very busy in my twenties with four young children and didn’t have as much time to think about myself.”
When Mrs Thomas reached her early thirties she finally asked her general practitioner if there was anything she could do.
This was during the 1970s – a time when hair restoration was nowhere near as sophisticated as it is today.
The doctor referred her to a surgeon who recommended a scalp reduction. She eventually had four of these procedures, but as she got older the effects of gravity saw the scalp loosening and her bald spots were exposed again.
“This was the only solution on offer,” she said.
“One surgeon did it for free to help me out, but unfortunately the solution didn’t last.”
Mrs Thomas said she didn’t learn about the new hair restoration techniques now available until, after relocating from New South Wales to Perth, a local plastic surgeon recommended Dr Martinick.
“I went to see a plastic surgeon about getting another scalp reduction, but he told me that no matter what he did my bald spots would eventually come back as my scalp loosened up again,” Mrs Thomas said.
“He then told me that Dr Martinick was doing some wonderful work with new hair restoration techniques.”
Dr Martinick, who is the resident hair restoration specialist at the Bondi Junction Private Hospital, said the successful transplant offered hope to many thousands of burns victims who thought they could not grow hair on scarred areas.
Her technique, “known as the coronal technique” had been used to treat over 60 burns or accident victims at her clinics around the country.
“I want people to know that if you have a scar in a hair bearing area it can be treated with hair transplantation,” Dr Martinick said.
Amongst the other patients who have benefited from Dr Martinick’s techniques are a farmer with a gun shot wound to his head, an eight year-old Indian girl with burns who was treated in Mumbai, and a Sydney dentist whose scalp was badly damaged in a car accident.
Mrs Thomas said few people realised that modern hair restoration was virtually impossible to detect.
“I am telling my story in the hope that other people, in particular young kids, will become aware that they can have things done,” Mrs Thomas said.
“If I can save one kid from going through what I went through I will be very pleased.
“We’d like to think that kids don’t tease each other but they do and that can be very painful.”