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When the Hair Surgeon Loses His Hair

Gary Linkov, MD started developing areas of hair loss on his legs and was diagnosed with alopecia areata, an autoimmune skin condition in which hair falls out in round patches

March 21, 2024

(We’re republishing this article, from 2018, to give it fresh eyeballs)

With one month left in my facial plastic and reconstructive surgery fellowship, I visited Las Vegas for a cosmetic surgery conference. Standing in front of the mirror in my hotel room getting ready to gel my hair before an evening of events, I noticed something peculiar on the left side of my scalp.

On closer inspection it appeared as though a silver dollar sized area of hair was missing in the temporal area above my ear. It was as if mysterious aliens had created a crop circle to send a cryptic message. At first I blamed it on the haircut I received just before coming to Vegas or perhaps I just parted my hair in the wrong place.

Two days later my wife arrived in Vegas and she too noticed the bald spot.

 

 

Seven Years Ago.

Seven years ago during medical school I started developing areas of hair loss on my legs and at that time was diagnosed with alopecia areata, an autoimmune skin condition in which hair falls out in round patches anywhere on the body.

At that time I tested negative for some of the associated autoimmune diseases. Patchy hair loss on the legs was easy to hide but the scalp presented a different challenge.

The irony was that as my sudden scalp hair loss was developing, I was embarking on a career that would in part involve restoring other people’s hair.

Unfortunately, aside from steroid injections into the bald spot, which I have since received, not much has proven to work on this condition. And while my training is in hair transplant surgery, this approach is not effective for alopecia areata.

 

The irony was that as my sudden scalp hair loss was developing, I was embarking on a career that would in part involve restoring other people’s hair.

 

September was alopecia awareness month. People with alopecia often experience social phobia, anxiety, and depression. Its unpredictable nature and limited treatment options make it a challenging condition to live with.

I have had friends ask me if I am ill after seeing the bald areas on my scalp or legs.

There are many misconceptions about the disease and many of our perceptions of beauty involve gorgeous hair. Alopecia has taught me to be less judgmental and it has instilled a heightened sense of purpose for hair restoration by helping me empathize with those experiencing hair loss, no matter the cause. Sometimes we choose the same destiny that chooses us.

 

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Today.

In today’s world, selfies are the norm and terms such as “Snapchat dysmorphia” have surfaced to describe an age when instant digital alterations set the perceived ideal for one’s beauty.

Equipped with these mercurial aspirations, patients visit med spas for a quick shot of neurotoxin or filler, or a cosmetic surgeon for a more lasting surgical effect.

Alopecia, however, has no quick fix. No matter what you rub on it or inject it with, there are no guarantees for improvement. The options are to recoil and avoid social interactions or to own the condition, not let it define you, and go after your dreams. I choose the latter. Here’s to hoping that the self is greater than the sum of its selfies.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email opmed@doximity.com. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Find out what we’re looking for here and submit your writing, or send us a pitch.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Submit your own article now here.

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4 Responses

  1. I agree that hair can be a Troublesome aesthetic and As I Grew Older I noticed that my hair became gray and what I call wispy. Well I didn’t want to be in the old man with gray hair, or gray wispy hair, so I crafted a solution for myself. My wife liked my hair and it didn’t matter to her that it was wispy but it matter to me. My solution, if you saw my photo you would see me with a clean shiny bald head. I don’t suppose that you would even think of shaving your head because socially it would mean something different for you than me. So what I’m saying is that even though I can’t grow hair, I choose to shave it because I don’t want it to look wispy. Good luck in all you do.

  2. I feel your pain, Doc, Even though I didn’t start to lose my hair, it started blowing in great and wispy. I know that stuff like that happened that you get older but my vanity still will not allow me to wear grey, wispy, hair. So, I took the Michael Jordan route, and decided to wear my hair shaved. Thank you for this article..

  3. Surprised! !!! This article really sad story. Thanks a lot for sharing such an informative article about when the hair surgeon loses his hair and I’m sure most people can take notes from this article. Thanks and keep it up………

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