He has dyed it, styled it and cut it – but as time marched on, there was no way of covering up the thinning spot on X Factor judge Louis Walsh’s head.
And in a bid to turn back the years, the 59-year-old music manager has had a hair transplant, he revealed yesterday.
Mr Walsh is so happy with the results of the treatment that he has even passed on the number of the clinic to his fellow X Factor judge Gary Barlow, who has been sporting a highly prominent bald spot on the ITV talent show.
Hair apparent: Louis Walsh has admitted to having a £30,000 hair transplant
Mr Walsh admitted he was prompted to have the £30,000 hair transplant by his friend and X Factor supremo Simon Cowell – who had already told him to have his eye bags removed.
The music manager, who launched Westlife and Boyzone, told the Times magazine: ‘He came up to me and said: ‘you know, you’re starting to lose your hair, dear’.
‘I said ‘I am not, dear! And anyway, you’re going grey!’’
But Cowell persisted and said: ‘Darling, you are. You’re losing your hair.’
Now you see it: The music manager's hairline is dramatically different now to the same time last year
Following this conversation, Mr Walsh said he was then forced into action when he caught a glimpse of the back of his head on camera.
He said: ‘I could have just left it and got on with things, but with TV today, everything is in high definition, and people notice every little thing. And if you’re getting on, and you’re on TV with a lot of young people, you have to look after yourself. So I thought ‘I don’t want a bald spot! I’m going to get this sorted.’
The judge had the transplant done for free at the HRBR clinic in Dublin in August, just weeks after admitting that he supported the idea of ‘having a bit of work done’.
After looking at the results of footballer Wayne Rooney’s hair transplant, Mr Walsh said: ‘If I had to, I would go down that route. I think it’s called maintenance’. He joked: ‘If it keeps me on the X Factor I absolutely would.’
Can you see my bald spot? Walsh had the procedure done at a Dublin clinic in August
The multi-millionaire has already had an eye lift in 2009 after stating that X Factor supremo Simon Cowell had told him to get rid of the bags under his eyes.
A source close to the star said: ‘It’s all Louis’s own hair – he just had some of it moved further up his head!
‘He had it done in the summer, but it takes quite a while for it to grow back and cover the thinning spot.
‘He’s really happy with the results – and he’s given Gary the number of the clinic!’
Mr Walsh had previously dyed his grey hair and his make-up artist had even used mascara to colour his locks before the live shows. He is currently sporting a close crop.
Peer pressure: Walsh admits it was once again Simon Cowell who convinced him to have the treatment, after Cowell famously encouraged him to have an eye lift
Dr Maurice Collins, who was also responsible for actor James Nesbitt’s hair transplant, carried out Mr Walsh’s treatment, known as Ultra Refined Follicular Unit Transplantation (URFUT).
This is a process where thin strips of skin are taken from the back of the head, an area where, in the vast majority of male pattern baldness cases, hair will always continue to grow, with individual hair follicles attached.
Each extracted follicle is surgically implanted in the areas of the scalp where the hair is thinning and will produce two hairs that will continue to grow throughout the patient’s life.
The operation can take up to ten hours and requires 18 different people – surgeons, nurses and technicians, working in shifts to extract the follicles under stereoscopic microscopes.
Mr Walsh said he spent the time watching reading magazines and DVDs.
The outspoken star said he was not embarrassed about having the transplant – and coming forward to discuss it.
Helping hand: Walsh has joked that he'll give his doctor's number to fellow judge Gary Barlow, who's been sporting a thinning patch of his own
He said: ‘I wanted to get the problem solved before it became a problem.
‘It’s like going to the doctor and getting something done for your heart before it goes.
‘It’s called maintenance. It’s not a wig or a syrup or an Irish jig. It’s just me, with my own hair, feeling better.
And it seems that if he does return next year, Take That Barlow, 40, may just take Mr Walsh up on his offer after confessing that his hair was turning grey due to the stress and ‘sleepless nights’ he suffered while appearing on the X Factor.
The outspoken Mr Walsh follows in the footsteps of other celebrities including Gordon Ramsay and former Dancing on Ice judge Jason Gardiner, who very publically showed off the results of his own hair transplant this year.
The 39-year-old choreographer spent £22,000 for the procedure follicles are taken from the back of the head on embedded into the crown.
'It's maintenance': Walsh says working with younger co-stars makes him more aware of his appearance
He then spent a further £6,000 on a top-up Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) procedure carried out by Dr Craig Ziering, who did the initial transplant.
Dr Bessam Farjo, medical director of the Institute of Trichologists, said he had seen requests for hair transplants ‘triple’ since Wayne Rooney’s treatment.
He said: ‘At 59, it’s unlikely that Louis will recede much further or lose a substantial amount of hair, making him a great candidate for surgery. Hair loss can be quite unpredictable in its early stages, with the full extent of loss difficult to determine in men under the age of 30. Men under this age should consider taking preventative drugs such as propecia, in an effort to slow down or stop their hair loss.'
‘Louis has managed to conceal his hair loss quite well until now. We see a lot of patients who are tired of constantly trying to hide the fact that they’re losing their hair and want a solution.
‘Transplant surgery is the only way to restore the hair permanently, the most common form of which is called Follicular Unit Transplantation. The principle of this method is transplanting naturally occurring groupings of hair called ‘follicular units’ from one section of the scalp to another.
‘The recent surge in procedures amongst male celebrities demonstrates that perceptions around male hair loss are changing – it’s now seen as acceptable to do something about it. Thanks to the likes of Wayne Rooney, Duncan Bannatyne and now Louis Walsh, the procedure has never been so popular.’