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WAKEFIELDâ€“With football season in full swing, fans are being inundated with a variety of advertisements on New England sports radio and television programs. One local advertiser in particular is hard to ignore with the frequency of his sponsorship, which goes something like this:
â€śIsnâ€™t it time you do something about your hair loss? Call Dr. Robert Leonardâ€¦..â€ť
It begs the question, why does this guy advertise so much?
The simple answer: there is very little referral business is available in his line of work.
â€śWe have almost no word of mouth advertisement because patients are so privateâ€“no one wants to talk about it, especially men,â€ť said Dr. Leonard during a recent interview at the Narragansett Times office. â€śItâ€™s very bothersome to people. Hair loss is a highly emotional thing to go through.â€ť
A Narragansett resident for over 25 years, Leonard has become New Englandâ€™s most famous hair transplant specialist not just because of his advertising but because he delivers results and is passionate about his work and progress in the field.
A pioneer in the technology and art of hair restoration, Leonard started his career in the medical field on a very different tack in the late 1980s after earning a medical degree at the University of New England. His original intent was to deliver babies and was in Toledo, Ohio working on an OBGYN residency when his career path changed after meeting Dr. C.P. Chambers at the Chambers Hair Institute.
â€śI was at the right place at the right time meeting the right people,â€ť he said. â€śHe (Chambers) needed doctors and he wanted to bring me in.â€ť
After completing a preceptorship in hair transplant surgery under Chambers, Leonard opened the Chambers Hair Institute of Rhode Island in 1989. The name was changed to Leonard Hair Transplants in 1991 and the business began to grow into what it is today with a total of seven offices in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Leonard, who became president of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery in 1995, has been at the forefront of technology in the field.
â€śThe technique has changed dramatically,â€ť he said. â€śWhen I first started out we used the old plug techniqueâ€“with multiple sessions for the patientâ€“and the result almost looked like a dollâ€™s head. Soon everything miniaturized. Now we do one session, and it is as natural as could be. We use 1500 graphs now as opposed to 50 graphs and that provides a natural look even after one transplant session.â€ť
Leonard said not all consultations with him end in surgery.
â€śMale pattern hair loss and female hair loss are progressive so prevention is very important,â€ť he said. â€śThe first treatment is to stop it from getting worse and I am a huge proponent of prevention.â€ť
Along with proper diet and exercise, non-surgical methods of treatment include the use of Rogaine, Propecia and low level laser therapy. All three can be used together or separately and have varying results.
Leonard said that if surgery is decided upon, it is painless and highly effective. In the simplest of explanations grafts of hair are taken from the donor area and moved to where the patient has lost hair.
â€śThe donor area genetically grows for a lifetime and brings genetic message with it not to fall out so those hairs will grow for the lifetime of the patient,â€ť said Leonard.
Once a patient undergoes follicular unit extractionâ€“with or without use of the ARTAS robotic system for surgeryâ€“ he or she is able to go home the same day and will see the final results in 18 months.
â€śAfter the grafts are in place, during next two to three weeks hairs will grow and then fall out, leaving the follicle empty. After two or three months hairs grow. Around month six, patients really see a difference. After 18 months itâ€™s complete, and with the final result a patient can cut, comb, color and curl.â€ť
One of Leonardâ€™s most famous patients is NFL wide receiver Wes Welker. While the former New England Patriot star has moved on to Denver, he remains a primary spokesman for Leonard.
â€śHaving Wes helps change the perception about hair loss,â€ť Leonard said, adding that he gets a great deal of satisfaction out of his work. â€śIf you lost your front tooth you would replace it. I can make people come back and feel like their old self again.â€ť
For more information visit www.hairdr.com.