Rafael Nadal was once the face of Armani. But recent photos of Rafa’s thinning hair were unlikely to win him any more modelling work. Now, according to reports, the tennis star is the latest celebrity to have a hair transplant.
Early career and first Grand Slam title
Nadal made his mark on the world of tennis at an early age.
In 2002 – aged just 15 at the time – Rafa won his first Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) match.
And just three years later he’d go on to win his first Grand Slam at the 2005 French Open.
But we’re not interested in that!
Far more impressive than the tennis titles was his mane of long, dark hair.
In fact, Rafa’s locks were pretty famous in their own right. It’s safe to say the young tennis star won his fair share of female admirers – and not for his forehand.
Aside from being one of – if not the – best player in the world at this time, Nadal was also known as a bit of a looker.
So much so, in fact, that in 2011 he replaced Cristiano Ronaldo as the face of Armani Jeans and Emporio Armani Underwear.
What a fine head of hair – even in 2011.
So where did it all go wrong?
Rafael Nadal hair loss
As time went on, though, Nadal’s hair was unlikely to win him any more modelling work.
Here he is pictured in 2013. Hair wet with sweat, you can clearly make out some pretty advanced androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness).
Not that there’s anything wrong with this! Around 70% of men will experience some degree of androgenetic alopecia at some point in their life.
But being just 27 years old when this photo was taken, Rafa’s hair loss looks to be pretty aggressive.
It didn’t go unnoticed, either.
Fellow tennis star (and fellow hair loss sufferer!) Andy Murray tweeted this in November 2013:
who loses their hair first out of me and rafa?
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) 8 November 2013
And in 2016, it looks like we got our answer:
As you can see, Rafael Nadal’s hair loss was very advanced towards the end of 2016 (when this photo was taken).
However, the pattern in which Rafa’s hair has fallen out is quite unusual.
Normally, men suffering from androgenetic alopecia lose hair from the frontal and crown areas first. Then, as hair loss progresses, these areas join up leaving hair at the back and sides of the scalp only. This is illustrated by the Norwood scale for male pattern hair loss.
But with Nadal, it looks like he’s lost most of his hair in the middle area first.
Anyway, it’s clear he’s going bald in this photo. Now, Spanish newspaper El Mundo is reporting that Rafael Nadal has had a hair transplant to correct this.
Rafael Nadal hair transplant
According to the report, Nadal underwent a Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) hair transplant procedure.
This is where individual hair follicles are extracted from areas that are immune to androgenetic alopecia (i.e. the back and sides of the head) and moved into the balding area.
The same report also claims that Nadal had 4500 follicules extracted and relocated. If this is true, we can expect Nadal to have a seriously thick head of hair this time next year!
But for now, though, we’ll have to wait to see the results.
See, hair transplants take time to grow in. After a few days, the newly implanted hair falls out – but the follicle remains.
After about 2 months, some of these implanted follicles will start to produce hair again. As time goes on, more and more of the implanted follicles will start producing hair.
A year after surgery, and you’ll have a good idea of what the final result will look like. However, hair will continue to get thicker as more and more follicles start producing hair.
But until Rafael Nadal is ready to reveal the results of his hair transplant, you can expect to see him wearing a lot of hats!