Restoring Confidence
At Gallagher Medical Institute, Dr. Joseph Gallagher applies his expertise in lasting, natural-looking hair restoration to enhance each patient’s appearance and self-assurance
by Daniel Sean Kaye

For many people, hair loss is a frustrating reality, and it often occurs much sooner in life than they ever could have anticipated. Hair loss at any age can make a person feel older and more self-conscious, and as a result some go through the process of trying to “fix” the issue or simply cover it up with a homemade solution. The results are often mixed, at best, or embarrassing, at worst.

“Hair loss leads to people not feeling good in life, about how they look,” says Joseph C. Gallagher, M.D., who treats both men and women coping with hair loss at Gallagher Medical Institute in Bala Cynwyd. “People don’t realize that each hair in your head is predisposed, at the time of conception, to stay in or fall out. People also don’t realize that 50 percent of women will lose hair, and 70 percent of men. It’s very common, but it still makes people feel bad. Maybe everything is going great for them in their life but they still don’t feel great because of their hair. The question is: Is it noticeable? If it is, they come in to see me. They come in to feel better.”

A board-certified surgeon with more than 25 years of surgical experience, Dr. Gallagher has performed and/or overseen thousands of successful hair transplants. His patients include people who are experiencing hair loss (alopecia) as a result of any number of causes as well as diseases, burns and scarring. The lasting, natural-looking results his patients receive are largely responsible for his having been recognized as a “Top Doctor” on numerous occasions by organizations in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and other parts of the eastern region of the United States.

The Process
“I ask patients, ‘What are your goals?’” Dr. Gallagher says. “Some are unrealistic. My plan is to get them to be more realistic. We do a full evaluation to see what stage of hair loss they are in. They might think they’re a ‘class 3,’ [which on a scale beginning at 1 means little hair loss], but I show them that they’re really a ‘class 5.’ I do this so we can work on the issue in the most appropriate manner. I tell them, ‘This is what you need, and this is how we treat it.’”

Dr. Gallagher’s approach to hair transplantation, which is a minor surgical procedure performed in the office under local anesthesia, includes follicular unit transplantation (FUT) and follicular unit extraction (FUE). FUT involves removing strips of abundant hair-bearing skin from the donor area that is resistant to hair loss, and then closing that area with a trichophytic suture that is virtually scarless, according to Dr. Gallagher. The donor area is then separated into one-, two- and three-hair follicular grafts using a stereomicroscope to help preserve every follicular unit. These are then placed in a natural fashion by the surgeon, using tiny, closely placed needle incisions. Hair density can be increased through subsequent visits.

With FUE, which is reserved for select cases, individual follicular units are harvested directly from the scalp using a small punch needle. The technique does leave scars, which can be large or small, according to Dr. Gallagher, despite the hype often seen in the press. He suggests that, for the most part, the scars can be covered by one’s own hair.

“What we do, simply put, is put hair in the scalp,” says Dr. Gallagher. “That transplanted hair falls out but the follicles stay. They go dormant for about eight weeks and then start to grow hair again.”

Dr. Gallagher also provides other options for patients who prefer nonsurgical solutions for preventing and treating hair loss. Although billions of dollars are spent every year on pharmaceutical solutions to treat hair loss, he suggests most are not effective on their own.

“Rogaine (minoxidil) and Propecia (finasteride) are the only drugs approved by the FDA for the prevention and treatment of hair loss, and these typically work when they’re part of an entire hair-restoration plan,” he says. “Often it’s part of a multiple-stage therapy, which is typically used more often by women. There is also a low-level laser treatment that is very effective. Other treatments are questionable. Most people are candidates for some type of this surgery and/or medical therapy. We instruct them in the right process.”

The Results
John S. spent his 34th birthday with Dr. Gallagher, and he calls it “one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

“I had the procedure done and it was comfortable, seamless,” says S., who prefers not to use his last name. “It was a fantastic experience and I’d do it again. I tell my friends to do it and I’d encourage anyone to do it. Just be confident in your decision and be patient. It has a huge stigma but I tell people to just embrace it.”

Frank M., 30, is in the middle of his third procedure, touching up his hair line after filling up to the crown of his head.

“I really shopped around and found I didn’t like the ‘big business’ places,” says M., who, like S., prefers not to share his last name. “I met Dr. Gallagher and right away found him and his office down to earth and intimate. It isn’t a stuffy office. It was the best decision I’ve made. I feel like I have a lot more confidence.”

“Barbers are the biggest referrals, and the Internet has been interesting; it’s another way for people to see my work,” says Dr. Gallagher. “In the beauty parlor, women will say, ‘Look at my hair. This is the guy who did it.’”

In the end, what patients want is a long-term solution that looks and feels natural, and that’s exactly what Dr. Gallagher delivers.

“People want hair that can be cut, trimmed and dried,” he says. “They want to be able to jump out of the ocean or the pool and look natural. It makes them feel great again. ... I’ve treated a lot of people in many different professions, and I’ve seen great results. A lot of people don’t believe this works, but it truly does.”

Dr. Gallagher is pleased to announce the opening of an additional office that will serve the Ft. Myers/Sarasota area in Florida.

Gallagher Medical Institute
111 Presidential Blvd., Suite 201
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004

Hair Transplants of Florida
4981 Royal Gulf Circle
Fort Myers, FL 33966

Photograph by Jody Robinson