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Cosmetics, surgery, transplants and the common man

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Marty Whelan revealed he had a hair transplant last year

Marty Whelan revealed he had a hair transplant last year

Prince William has been losing his hair in recent years

Prince William has been losing his hair in recent years

Wayne Rooney announced he’d had a hair transplant on Twitter

Wayne Rooney announced he’d had a hair transplant on Twitter

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Marty Whelan revealed he had a hair transplant last year

If someone had told me, even a few years ago, that RTE's Marty Whelan would some day soon be sitting in a cosmetic surgery receiving a hair transplant whilst watching The Life of Pi on his iPad, I would have found it difficult to believe. But that's just what has happened.

Of course, the world of cosmetic or 'plastic' surgery has captivated the public eye for decades with its promise of beauty and eternal youth. Whether it's facelifts or fillers, lipo or lasers, boob jobs or botox, it's all about the same thing; looking better than we do and feeling younger than we are and though, in the past, it has been considered to be a primarily female arena, this is no longer the case.

While there once seemed to be a general male consensus that having a spare tyre or a bald patch was no big deal, the world has changed. Since the information age got into full swing with its iPhones, digital cameras, high-def media and, of course, the internet, the world has become a far more visual place and today's men are feeling the pressure.

After recently revealing that he had the procedure done secretly in 2013, Marty cited pressures in the industry saying: "For me, I feel better about me. I'm not a vain person, but I am in an industry that looks at you every 12 months and says, 'hmmm'". The entertainer, who began balding in his 30s, says that, as his hair loss progressed he became self conscious about his bald patch and that this "can cause people to lose confidence and therefore maybe lose opportunities".

The Winning Streak host, who now boasts a far thicker head of hair than he has done in years, went on to say that "if you're going to find yourself thinking, I wish I could do something about this, you actually want to do something about it, so give it a go".

And lots of men have been giving it a go, with an enormous rise in demand for cosmetic surgery over the years, especially in non-invasive procedures like laser hair removal, botox and micro-dermabrasion, where a patient can be in and out quickly with no long recovery period. They simply come in on the day and banish their wrinkles, furrows and back hair and then go straight back to work with no one the wiser.

Those of you looking to go botoxing should expect to pay between €100 and €300 per area while micro-dermabrasion treatments average out at around the €100 mark.

Hair removal is entirely more subjective when it comes to cost, as it depends on the size of the area and how many sessions you end up needing to curtail the unwanted follicles.

Despite the popularity of less invasive treatments, full surgical procedures like nose reshaping, liposuction and, of course, hair transplantation continue to grow in popularity amongst men, with more and more going under the knife every day, eager to restore their youthful good looks, even if some after-care is necessary.

One of the most interesting procedures on the rise is the male breast (moob) reduction, with more than 20,000 ops being performed in the US alone in 2012. Naturally these procedures are far more costly than a shot of botox, with liposuction costing between €2,500 and €5,000 on average and nose re-shaping coming in at about €4,000.

Hair transplant surgery costs around €10 per hair follicle, which as you'd imagine, can get pretty expensive.

The simple truth is that it's become far more acceptable for men not only to worry about their physical appearance, but also for them to get out there and do something about it.

Fashion stylist Brendan Courtney says he uses make-up while actor Hugh Laurie is advertising it.

The epitome of this shift in opinion is, in my mind, Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney whose hair restoration has been well documented over the last few years. Far from the glamorous Hollywood type, Rooney is a sporting hero and everyman who would, traditionally, not be the kind of guy you'd expect to be so worried about his looks.

So, when it was first announced that the footballer had elected to have the procedure, everyone had a bit of a giggle before eagerly checking out photos of Rooney's new look. Yes, there were a few jokes, but the overwhelming response that seemed to come from people was 'he looks a lot better' and then that was pretty much it. Rooney confirmed on Twitter that he'd undergone surgery saying, "Just to confirm to all my followers I have had a hair transplant. I was going bald at 25. Why not? I'm delighted with the result."

So, why not? We all think about it. We all take that extra couple of seconds when we're brushing our teeth, to scrutinise ourselves in the mirror, mentally separating our good attributes from our bad. Are we headed for a future where cosmetic improvements are not only accepted but expected? How long will it be until it becomes vain or stubborn not to have certain 'sensible' corrections if they're affordable to you.

In the wake of Rooney's hair-raising announcement, I heard the topic being discussed a number of times by groups of women who, for the most part, seemed to agree that it was a good decision and would hope their men would consider it or other similar procedures should they become necessary down the road.

Funnily enough, these conversations all seemed to make their way to Prince William, who has been follicly challenged in recent years. Perhaps, in the coming years he too may consider going under the knife to restore his once luscious locks if for no other reason than to cushion the weight of his future crown.

As Dylan put it, "The times they are a-changin."

Irish Independent