Friday, December 4, 2009

What is it?



A debate has been raging of late among some readers about Bill Shatner's current hair. What is it? Is it a transplant or some very, very fine and expensive hair appliance? How could Bill Shatner's real wrap of hair around the back and sides provide enough hair to fill out the top?


All very interesting questions. Many of you have also been pointing to some recent and high-quality close-ups of Bill Shatner at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center that were posted at the German shatner-news website - some of which we reproduce here.

We will now try to make a case (our pro-toupee counter-case is here and an important update is here) why Bill Shatner might indeed have had a hair transplant (plugs) and try to answer some of your questions in the process:

Imagine Bill Shatner's head were a three-sided sports stadium filled with people. The people are the hair at the back and sides and the pitch is bald scalp.


Would it be possible to fill out the green playing field with spectators without emptying the seats too much (let's overlook the relative stadium-to-pitch size issues)? Could an equilibrium be reached whereby the stadium looks relatively full and the seats still look relatively full too? Now imagine that if to that you added the fact that for every seat vacated by someone going to stand on the pitch, a new person eventually appeared to take their place (hair regrowth). The answer is yes:


This is what we believe Bill Shatner might have achieved. His hair all over is pretty thin in terms of hairs per square inch, and patchy in places too, but the image of a full head of hair is largely maintained.

Apparently supporting this toupological thesis (or should that be plugological?), we have what appears to be visual evidence of areas that are harvested for donor hair - look at the temple area:


And possibly here too - a closeup from Mind-Meld (more here):


Now, if we look at the relative spacing of the hair, we see that certain areas are a little patchier and require additional work after a time - hair falls out and needs to be replaced. Would Bill Shatner, now prosperous and wealthy, ever be photographed with a hairpiece in such a bad condition?


Yet, we also believe that Bill Shatner still uses hairpieces from time to time. These are systems that are possibly placed on top of his plugs, likely when he is facing the harsh lights of a studio and his plugs aren't quite up to scratch. For example...


...this, we believe is a piece. One of the telltale signs is the sharp hairline at the sides and a little too thick hair at the top. Thus, what Bill Shatner has devised is a look that arguably allows him to get away with not wearing a toup most of the time, but still enables him to slip on a similar-looking toup when the demands of lighting and constant plug-tune-ups negate the possibility of the transplanted hair holding-up to scrutiny.

Plugs:


Piece:


The donor hair that Bill Shatner apparently provides is resistant to male pattern-baldness and so grows on the top and regrows at the back and sides. As this Q&A, linked to by "RM" in a reader discussion about hair transplants notes: "Hair transplants are permanent because the hair used is from the back of the hairline which is usually resistant to the normal hair loss progression of male pattern baldness. However, you will not get a full head of hair from this. It will fill in, but never be as rich and full as it was in youth."

***

UPDATE: " 'And no, it isn't a toupée,' [Shatner] says, tugging his hair." See here for more from this interview. If it was a toupee, then that would make Bill Shatner a liar. Now, Shats has been a little dishonest in the past, but not in recent years - instead he now parses and plays with words when it comes to the subject of his hair. So the above statement would be a little brazen and out-of-character for Bill Shatner if it were not true. See all our Shat-no-meter rulings for more.

53 comments:

  1. Hair can also be transplanted from areas other than the head - e.g. the chest, back, legs etc

    Apparently when transplanted to the head it will adopt the characteristics of normal hair..(I think...)

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  2. and like hair at the back and sides of the head wont fall out when transplanted to the bald areas

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  3. Well, Bill´s hair may be patchy, but it's better than the lost years toupees of the early seventies.

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  4. I still go for a well-worn without doubt. It's the first pic above that does it for me. Zoom in and you can see the regularity of the root/weave knots in the lace pattern, it's so obvious!! Definately a full toup down the sides too and just a little of real hair at the neck. I'm sure that thinning in your twenties leads to extensive baldness in your 80's - no where near enough to transplant.

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  5. i kind of agree with the last post - i too think its a (very expensive) rug. just wouldnt be enough hair for such a mega transplant like that (assuming the shatner was/is quite bald) - just talk to any HT doc..sure they can repair hairlines (when theres plenty of hair behind to blend in) and crowns...but a full on head of hair like the shats? it can not be done

    so in conclusion i dont think Shatner has ever had a Transplant...its either an ultra real wig (like Elton Johns) or the shat travelled into the future and cured his baldness once and for all.

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  6. It's most likely a hair transplant, to be fair. There aren't any knots or lace patterns to be found in those pics, unfortunately. As to the issue of a full head of hair, those pictures demonstrate how thin the hair on top is. Shats does not have a full head of hair by any means.
    Just because a person wears a toupee does not mean they are bald. Peter Sellers wore a toup for many years before taking it off in the film "Being There" and showing he wasn't really bald. The same was likely true for Shatner and was why he was a good candidate for a hair transplant.

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  7. Tough one. Only Bill knows for sure. I'm siding with a transplant but the donor hair is an issue. I don't see how he could have enough of it left after years of thinning create the almost full appearance he has now. You can't transplant back/arm/pubic hair because it's coarser and grows a little then stops. As Shat so wisely stated, some things will always be mysteries and this is one of them

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  8. A lot can be done with hair transplants nowadays -- technology has really improved - check out this vid:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHaDj14ciRk

    But I agree with those of you that say donor hair is an issue --- if Shatner's hair is a transplant, he could not have been "Patrick Stewart/Andre Agassi" bald under that toupee. He must have had some hair, or had fairly high "sides" of hair around his head in order to have enough donor hair for what he has now.

    It really is kind of a mystery -- I think about him scuba diving in that whale shark documentary and pushing his mask over his head. and think - that can't be a toup! But yet he was so active and doing crazy things at times when we know definitively that he was wearing a toup....

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  9. Also, I'm not quite sure what you mean when you say "donor hair is resistant to mail-pattern baldness and so grows at the top and regrows at the sides".

    My understanding is that, yes, donor hair is hormone-resistant, so when you transplant it on the top of somebody's head, it *cannot* fall out -- this is what is meant when doctors say that hair transplants are permanent.

    Hair plugs can't fall out unless there's some kind of scarring of rejection problem, which would be serious, and which probably would occur soon after the transplant. The transplanted hair is like the strips of hair Patrick Stewart has, which never will fall out, so if Shat had a hair transplant, he does not need to maintain it, in the sense of having to replace transplanted hair that has fallen out.

    Also, they transplant the actual hair follicle -- you only have a limited amount of hair follicles, so when you remove donor hair from the sides of your head, my understanding is that more hair will not grow in to replace the hair follicles that have been removed... You might be able to grow out the hair that you already have in that area to make it look thicker, but removing hair follicles won't cause your body to create new hair follicles to "take up the slack." This is why Patrick Stewart cannot get a successful hair transplant that would cover his head -- he simply does not have enough donor hair.

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  10. @RM - yah I think you're right ---- maybe Shat's hair did naturally look like Peter Sellers!

    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3550/3854769395_f9bbf80cbc.jpg

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  11. Well, I think that we have a case of plugs and toupee here. It depends of the occasion. But in the last pic Mr. Shatner is looking like Nathan Lane! Not a good thing!

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  12. Peter Sellers was the kind of celebrity that eschewed the toupee in his everyday life, but used it when was working. Humphrey Bogart, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Stewart often went out without a rug. But Bill prefered to mantain the illusion, if you like...

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  13. Those are clearly FUE grafts. FUE = Follicular Unit Extraction, individual donor hairs. Expensive but near perfect and no strip scars. See here http://www.bernsteinmedical.com/hair-transplant/follicular-extraction.php#fue3

    Congratulations, proof conclusive

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  14. One thing to also consider is that because Shatner's actual hair is now fairly grey and white, the look he currently has doesn't look so bad - for his age.

    In interesting future discussion point would be how Shatner views balding at the top of his head vs. a receding hairline. This site has had posts related to it, but something more in-depth would be cool. It would seem he cares more about the latter these days, than the former. He's experienced both, some men sometimes deal with just one. And then there are some men who have the fortune of not having their hair fall out much, if at all.

    If Shatner dyed his hair the color he sported in the 60's, 70's and 80's, it would probably look a lot worse.

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  15. It seems we have to assume he had more hair at the sides and back than many thought. But given that some of his wigs were clearly "combat" versions to cope with action (TJ Hooker), and the fact that he favored curlytops for some years, there does seem to have been a coming out.

    In the first picture, you may even be able to see the margin between the remnant hair and the follice transplants.

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  16. I am very familiar with the hair piece Mr. Shatner is wearing. It is desiegined to be worn only once. They call it the "Saturday Night Special"
    Ther hair strands are inserted (no knots) into a very fine membrane which requires glue to adhere to the scalp. The membrane is as fine as a fly's wings. Transparent to the eye. Once the hair piece is removed, it must be discarded. Lasts approximately 3-4 weeks.

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  17. Can you post us some more information or a link to a provider of such a "special"?

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  18. Here is an ultra high resolution image of such a piece on John Travolta's head. There is a "lace" at the front, but it is very, very fine.

    http://news.makemeheal.com/images/john-travolta-toupee.jpg

    But, I don't see such on Shatner's head, though the comb forward does make it difficult. But not impossible.

    There are some oddities in that photo-set -see the back of his head here:
    http://www.en.shatner-news.com/gallery/images/shatnerweekend2009/pic30

    There are some strange images

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  19. Interesting ideas!

    To our anonymous commenters: We have been trying to encourage commenters to select the "Name/ URL" option in the "Comment as" tab and type in a username (anything at all). This eliminates the "anonymous" tag and helps other commenters to know who is saying what, which can help make conversations a little easier. Thanks! -ST

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  20. Three observations regarding the Travolta photo. The first, I do not believe Shatner's hailine has ever been photographed at the same high resolution as Travolta's. Second, in the Travolta photo there are areas that demonstrate the hairline is indeed invisible. It's possible this particular piece was not entirely, perfectly applied. Thirdly, Shatner's new hair style cleverly obscures the hairline, a technique used to disguise former hair pieces. I am looking for the sight where I read about the "Special". I will post shortly.

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  21. When you want to hide something weird, wear a hat!

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  22. The "Saturday Night Special" sounds very plausible, sounds like he's worn it past it sell by date, being designed to be worn once only. Very interesting how it does seem to be combed forward disguising the lace front. Actually the front edge seems slightly more dense as if the fixing at the front is different to that used over the scalp in general, helping to hold in more hair??
    That other shot clearly shows the back edge lifting up away, another tell tale toup sign.
    Hope we get that link about this toup type. Fascinating!

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  23. Shat Toup- wtih the Hubble telescope spending 50 percent of its time looking at Shat's head, with your entire team of crack Toupologists spending 24 hours a day on this issue, how is it that its still a mystery? If this is indeed a transplant the toupee is gone forever, this is a sad day for all of us. I don't want to live in a world where Bill Shatner has a head covered in growing hair.

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  24. I found the site with what I call the "Saturday Night Special". I have personally gone to see this company. A years worth of these systems can run someone from between $3K to $5K. A trifle amount for a guy like Shatner (especially nowadays). Shatner's hair pieces have improved with his financial success as the photos demonstrate. With respect to plugs, Shatner did not have enough hair in his 50's to consider a transplant. The reality of transplants is that the success rate i.e. achieve the appearance of a full head of hair is minimal at best even when plenty of donor hair is available. Thinning hair around the fringe is common especially for an 80 year old man. Shatner is 78. Rest assured, he still wears a toup, albeit a very fine one. Having said that, he looks terrific and more power to him for wanting to keep up appearances.
    Have a look at this site;
    http://www.newrootsonline.com/main.php?site=nrs&menuID=1

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  25. This photographic "evidence" that Shat still wears a toup is entirely unconvincing. The Toronto salon video was just a regular toupee that's been cut & styled. No one would devise and style a toupee that resembles Shatner's hair at the Equestrian Center (complete with recent hair transplant scars on the top of his head).

    Take a look at the photo gallery at the Bernstein site an earlier commenter linked to. Many of those examples involve patients who had little donor hair available. I agree with this commenter that Shatner has had very expensive FUE transplants.

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  26. # Amandino

    That really is amazing, just shows how good these things can get with those costs, imagine with the budgets Shat has...reportedly $20-30k a pop and I remember reading a few years back he gets through $3k or more/month hair care. I think what you have said is bang on the money. It amazes me that it's the Shat finally having the last laugh with many convinced he's no longer wearing a toup; he's finally managed to fool most (or some!) of the people!

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  27. As I mentioned, he like most men that age (80) do not have enough hair follicles to cover all of his head via transplant from the sides and back. For the most part, even the younger men in the Bernstein site have not achieved the Shatner look. The Newroots hair site only serves as a demonstration of how far "conventional" toups have progressed with respect to realism. I'm sure Shatner has a custom unit made of even finer materials than what is seen in the Newroots site. Newroots does offer the Shatner toup if requested. Shatner finally got it right. He now wears a light denisity toup which shows off his scalp. (as is the case for older men with a full head of hair)
    I would even venture to speculate that someone does a personal house call to apply the piece on a weekly basis.

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  28. There is a similarity to the Shatner scalp in the New Roots video at the 9 minute mark. Convincing.

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  29. @ Amandino. Shatner had the hair transplant at age 70. Not at 80 years of age. He's not even 80 years old now (in 2009).

    Shatner has managed to fool you and a few others (or you've deluded yourselves) into thinking he still regularly wears a toup. Not true. We'll have to agree to disagree on this issue, for now...

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  30. This should put to rest the notion that Shat didn't have enough donor hair to facilitate a large-scale hair transplant.

    Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi before hair transplant: http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/2606475/AFP
    http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/1860246/Getty-Images-News

    During hair transplant (recovery phase-Shatner would just have worn a toup to cover up during this time)
    http://timesonline.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/08/27/berlusconi.jpg

    After hair transplant
    http://yfrog.com/5d470berlusconij
    http://yfrog.com/0asilvioberlusconi072809mj

    Shatner had at least as much hair as Berlusconi did when they both had hair transplants. They even had them at approximately the same age (in their late 60's). Thus, we can acknowledge the relative lack of hair was not an insurmountable obstacle to a final successful result.

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  31. http://www.hairgrowthdoctor.com/2_limitations.htm

    "Studies have shown that the human eye cannot tell a person is balding until the person has lost over 50% of his density . Therefore we only need to achieve approximately 50% to achieve a full head of hair."

    It may be possible to achieve decent results with 30-35% density and make up the difference with thickening sprays, hair dye, etc.

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  32. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjoluqURymc

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  33. That guy was just like shatner. Started balding in his late 20's and by 35 looked much older than his actual age.

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  34. http://www.mcgrathmedical.com/customers/107071813584945/images/HL_BABan.gif
    Hair from Hairlessness.

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  35. FUE transplant technology can take hair from ANYWHERE on the body.

    If Shat has a very hairy back and chest, for instance, all this could be moved to his head. That's potentially LOTS of donor hair. Leg and arm hair, as well as beard hair, are also viable options.

    Bill most definitely has had FUE transplants around his hairline and temples to aid in a softer aesthetic transition to a toupee.

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  36. I believe he started with his transplant back in 2000. You take from the back of the head and its usually around 1900 follicles implanted into thinning area. Those implants fall out after 6 mos and his own hair starts to grow. I'm sure he had it done 2x for the amount of area to cover.
    Yes I believe he wore a toup when his transplants were 'growing' and not all area's are covered.

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  37. The real question is; who cares? Are you people mentally deranged to be so obsessed with another's hair. Wow!

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  38. its his head, its his life, its his choice to do what he chooses ,,,,,,, as much as we all nosy parkers , leave him alone ,, who in the so called star brigade hasn't had 'work' done or looks totally different in real life, the falseness of stardom is a plastic factory life style !!!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Replies
    1. This is some seriously awesome spam. Better not to delete this one, ST.

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