A 27-year-old chef, who has already spent £17,000 ($22,300 USD) cosmetically enhancing his looks, has compared his latest hair transplant – to cover hereditary premature balding – to having a "seven hour haircut."
First experimenting with Botox injections and face fillers, used to smooth out lines when he was only 22, Mike Bute, lives with his mom, so he can use the money he would have needed for rent to fund treatments.
Just 23 when he had his first £6,000 ($7,880) hair transplant at a clinic in Manchester, after trying to hide his receding and thinning hair using bandanas and elaborate combovers, in 2017 Mike even appeared on E4's Body Fixers, where he was fitted with a hair piece for a wedding in Ibiza, while his transplant grew.
Yet, despite his physical transformation, which has also involved having a dazzling new smile, Mike says his sex life has not improved and admits that his look can intimidate dates.
"To be honest, I probably had more of a sex life before I had anything done," he said. "I do get the odd comment now if I'm dating. I think people find it a little bit intimidating. I'm quite a confident, abrasive person and when you have this nice skin and big white teeth it can be intimidating to others but I'm still the same person, I just have whiter teeth."
Mike now (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)
Mike claims he is now happy with his look.
"I'm really happy with where I'm at. I did not want to tamper too much," he said. "I would never get a nose job or something that would really rearrange my face and take away what people are used to seeing."
Mike immediately after the transplant (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)
"I think I have a really healthy relationship with cosmetic procedures. I never go too far. Everything I've had done has been an enhancement. I've spent £17,000 so far," Mike continued. "It's what I wanted to spend my money on. I could have bought a house, but I made the choice to live at home, working, cutting back on things and living a simpler life to pay for these things. A lot of people ask, 'are you happy now?' I was never unhappy. I was always happy, I just took an opportunity to change what I wanted."
"I can feel like these people pity me, but I don't do it to please them, I do it for myself," Mike added.
Mike had his first round of Botox injections in his forehead and lip fillers in 2014 when he was 22, when he returned to England after nine months working as a retailer on a cruise ship traveling around the Mediterranean.
"I just thought I wanted to start looking after myself," he said.
Mike now (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)
"When I got back from the cruise ships, I wasn't looking my best. It's an intense lifestyle – nine months of working long days, seven days a week, unhealthy eating habits and a party lifestyle," he said. "It had taken its toll and I was looking a bit haggard. My friend had had some Botox done, so I thought I would try it. I hadn't realized how small my lips were. My top lip was practically non-existent so I thought I'd try a bit of filler as well."
Mike just after the transplant (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)
"Up until 18, I'd had a shaved head, but now I'd started growing my hair out and noticed it was thinning, but that wasn't my main concern at that point," Mike continued.
Finding a beauty salon he liked, Mike also had filler injected into his cheeks and jaw to enhance his cheekbones and still returns there for Botox and filler injections – paying £700 ($900) a year.
But his first major procedure, costing £3,000 (almost $4,000) was in 2016 to have his ears pinned back, which involves a surgeon removing skin from behind the ear and restitching it to pull the ears back.
"I'd been conscious that they stuck out a bit, but had never really been fussed before. I'd never been bullied for it," he said, "But it was something I was aware of so I thought why not have it done? I acted on a bit of a whim. I don't know if anyone really noticed I'd had them done, but I knew and it boosted my confidence."
After the procedure, when his consultant talked to him about what else he might like to do, Mike began to consider having a hair transplant – finally taking the plunge in January 2017.
Mike's teeth before and after (PA REAL LIFE/CLINIC CENTER TURKEY)
"Before, I'd just style my hair differently or wear a bandana to try and cover up my receding hairline, but I was self-conscious about it. It was frustrating and I felt insecure," he said. "I have hereditary baldness. A lot of members of my family are bald, but they have the physique to pull it off. I have quite feminine features, so it doesn't really suit me. I wanted to pre-empt things, like with the Botox, I thought, 'why not sort these things out while I'm young?'"
Mike now (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)
"I had my first hair transplant in the UK, spending £6,000. It was an eight-hour operation, during which they took 2,500 grafts from the back of my head and injected them into the top, where the problem was," he continued. "You're awake during the procedure and can actually see what they are doing. I was sick 20 minutes in, but really it wasn't a bad day. I watched telly for eight hours and knew the pain would be worth it. Afterwards, at first, you have a scabby head, but then the hair grows back and you really do have the 'wow' factor."
But it is not a fast procedure. The hair grows, then dies, then regrows, according to Mike, taking 18 months in total.
Concerned about a friend's wedding he was attending in Ibiza that June – just four months after the op – Mike agreed to go on the E4 program Body Fixers. A team of TV experts tackle extreme or shocking beauty and hair fails, but while his transplant had not failed, they still agreed to help him.
Mike as a young man before the work (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)
"They fitted me with a hair piece, which was great as I could take it on and off, and people presumed it was the hair transplant," he said. "Everybody at the wedding was saying how great and how well I looked. I had the fillers, I'd had my ears done and I had a full head of hair. It was really nice to have the compliments."
Mike's teeth (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)
With the first hair transplant only dealing with the problem on the top of his head and keen for more density, Mike started looking into having a second transplant. Researching online he found the Clinic Center in Istanbul, Turkey.
"I knew a few people had started going abroad, but also that a lot were wary and worried they would end up with some kind of botch job," he said.
"But I found the Clinic Center and did a lot of research. There was a British man who had documented his whole journey on Instagram," he said.
So, in January 2019, he travelled to Istanbul, where he stayed for three days, while having the work done.
"It was a fantastic experience. They picked me up from the airport, took me back to the hotel after the procedure was done. It felt really glamorous, like being a celebrity," he said.
"It was a new, more modern procedure, where they take pictures of the hair using a machine and inject the follicles at the top of your head. There's no scarring and it was less painful. It feels more like you're getting a haircut, albeit a seven hour one," he continued. "Because they shave your hair first, the transfer grows back at the rate it would anyway, so you can watch it growing back, which is really exciting. It's changed my life. I love being able to blow dry my hair again and styling it so you can see a full hairline. I'm not always looking at ways of covering up now."
Mike now (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)
"My friends were shocked when they saw me at first, because I was completely bald, but then as it started to grow back, they could not tell if I was wearing the hair piece or whether it was my real hair," he continued. “It's nice to know there are these services out there for other men going through what I went through."
And Mike was so happy with the clinic's work that he returned in March to have 20 teeth replaced.
"My teeth were not bad, but they were quite little and jagged. They told me it would cost me £3,000 which I'd paid for my ears. I was like 'sign me up.' I thought that was a really good price for a new smile," he said.
"When I saw them I got the shock of my life. It was so weird to be used to these small jagged teeth and then to see these beautiful white ones," Mike said. "I came home and people were like, 'wow that's amazing.' I uploaded a photo to social media, so people didn't get a shock if they bumped into me. There were a lot of supportive comments, so that was a nice feeling. Now, if I look after my new teeth, I'll only need to replace them every 10 to 15 years."
Mike is planning one last hair transplant in 2021, to fill in any gaps and make sure his mane is as thick as it can be, and might also be having a liposuction, to remove fat from his stomach, so he can get some definition on his abs.
"It will just be a bit of sculpting to get abs," he said. "I've got a slim stomach, but don't have time to go to the gym to get definition, so if I can buy it, then why not? You expect to get a reaction when you sign up to these kind of procedures, but the majority of comments are positive. There are a couple of friends who do not like what I do to my face, but I don't do it to please other people. I do it because it's what I want to look like and what I want to do with my body."
But it is not a matter of insecurities.
"I'm not an insecure person, I have always been confident, even back when I was dealing with the receding hairline," Mike said. "It's a question of fixing what you can instead of dwelling on the things you can't."