– The ‘Nawaz effect’ –
Mohmand opened his practice in the early 2000s, but transplants, done under local anaesthetic, did not take off immediately.
The breakthrough moment came at the end of 2007, when Nawaz Sharif, who was balding when he was deposed as prime minister by General Pervez Musharraf eight years earlier, returned from exile with a full head of hair.
“After the hair transplant… by Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif (his brother, the chief minister of Punjab province) this has become very popular,” said doctor Fawad Aamir at his Peshawar clinic, among a group of patients seeking new manes.
“(Before) they were very afraid of this, that something is going to happen, that cancer will develop, that infection will lead to the brain.”
Among them was the son of Farid Khan Khattak, a big man who fills the room with hearty laughter.
“My son had some kind of inferiority complex because he had some gaps in his hair,” he said.
“One of my friends told me that instead of a hair transplant I should buy a motorbike for my son. But my son insisted: ‘Instead of a motorbike I want a transplant’, so it’s for his happiness.”
Since 2006, Mohmand has conducted 8,000 operations compared with 1,000 during the previous five years.
In Pakistan’s conservative society where arranged marriages remain the norm, surgeons recall the anguish of patients whose engagements have been scuppered by baldness.
“One of my clients had lost a lot of hair and two or three marriage proposals did not mature,” said the doctor of a female patient.
“After that, she came to give me the invitation to her wedding. That day, she had tears in her eyes. She said, ‘You are the person who has made my life’.”