Don’t worry, we’re not going to get political on you. Whatever your feelings about Donald Trump and his presidential ambitions, we have no intention of challenging or reinforcing them. We just want to talk about… that hair.
What is actually happening with his hair?
And we don’t mean that in a mocking way. The rest of the Internet has that more than covered. We’re asking out of sincere, unironic curiosity.
Is it a toupee? Probably not. During several campaign rallies, he’s invited women to examine his hair, confirming that it is real and is indeed attached to his head.
Is it a comb over? Absolutely. But what is it combing over? He appears to have a full head of hair. So why does he comb it like he’s televangelist Benny Hinn?
One theory is that he just likes it that way. Michael R. Cunningham, Ph.D., a professor and psychologist at the University of Louisville, doesn’t think this is so far-fetched.
“In photos taken in 1976 and in 1996, Donald Trump was wearing his hair swept down on his forehead in a manner that is remarkably similar to the way it looks today,” he says. “Many men choose a hair style in their 20s or 30s and stick with it their whole lives.”
Dr. Paul McAndrews, a dermatologist in Los Angeles who specializes in hair restoration, isn’t so convinced. “There are three reasons you do a comb over,” he says. “To hide baldness, to hide a bad transplant, or to hide a flap surgery scar.”
That third option— flap surgery scar—is the rumor that’s gotten the most traction. This surgery involves cutting away the bald parts of the scalp—as in, actually removing large chunks of skin on your head—and then stretching and sewing together the skin that’s still producing hair.
If it sounds Frankenstein Monster-esque, that’s because it is.
In the 1993 highly-unauthorized book Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump, the Donald allegedly confronted his then-wife, Ivana, over a botched scalp flap surgery by a plastic surgeon she had recommended.
“Your fucking doctor has ruined me!” Trump purportedly screamed at her, before pulling out fistfuls of her hair.
Trump has, to say the least, denied these allegations.
There’s no shortage of conspiracy theorists online. On the Hair Loss Help Forum, one user—who says “they should put me on the news for figuring this out since it’s a national mystery”—insists that Trump “went to the Beverly Hills Institute to see Dr. Mayer or Fleming” and had flap surgery “because he wanted a thick hairline [being a perfectionist].”
If Trump had this surgery during the late 80s or early 90s—the time frame it allegedly happened—the Beverly Hills Institute of Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery would have been the place to do it.
Dr. Richard Fleming, M.D., a plastic surgeon and co-director of the Institute, says that he and Dr. Mayer “were the first people in the country to use the flaps.”
However, he insists that Trump is not and has never been a client. Sorry, Internet conspiracy theorists!
That said, he is more than happy to speculate.
“I’ve seen clips of him,” Dr. Fleming says of Trump. “Some lady pulled up his hair at a rally, and it looked totally normal to me. It looks like he has a natural, full head of hair. I didn’t see any scar, I didn’t see any abnormality, or anything that would be indicative of poor surgery.”
“If he had a flap, it’s great surgery,” he continued. “But I don’t see anything. If I was a betting man, I’d say he probably hasn’t had any work done.”
In a 2011 interview with Rolling Stone, Trump claimed that he “actually (doesn’t) have a bad hairline. When you think about it, it’s not bad.”
Dr. McAndrews, however, disagrees. It’s not that Trump has a bad hairline, it’s that his hairline isn’t realistic.
“We’re not seeing his apex, the highest point in his hairline,” he says. “And we’re not seeing his fronto-temporal triangle, which is the first thing that develops when your hair begins thinning. As you age, that goes back farther and farther.”
Here’s an example, of Dr. McAndrews’ own head:
“Look at the red lines,” he says. “They go up from my lateral eye, right up to the apex of the fronto-temporal triangle. That’s how the human face is framed. It’s a very important landmark. You may not know this rule, but your brain does.”
Here’s another example, from one of Dr. McAndrews’ patients:
“He has more of an oval hairline,” Dr. McAndrews says. “But if you went up from his lateral eye, on a sagittal line, it goes right up into the apex of that triangle again.”
Now look at this photo of Donald Trump:
“Donald Trump is definitely balding,” Dr. McAndrews says. “He’s thinning significantly. So that triangle should be there. But follow his lateral eye straight up, and there’s no apex to his hairline.
“When you see someone breaking this rule, you may not know the rule, but you know instinctively that something is wrong.”
Here’s another example, again from one of Dr. McAndrews’ patients:
“Look at the red line,” he says. “That’s how a lot of surgeons would have transplanted him. They’d just make the hairline go from one side of the head to the next.”
Instead, Dr. McAndrews went with the blue line, which created a more natural hairline recession. “That’s what a man with thinning hair actually looks like,” he says.
The scalp flap surgery creates a hairline that follows the red line, not the more realistic blue one.
“It goes right across that triangle, and it all looks wrong,” says Dr. McAndrews. “The flaps are horrible. It doesn’t respect that receding triangle. You look at it, and you just know something’s off”
We may never know the truth behind Trump’s hair. There’s only one man who knows the full story, and he’s sticking to his version.
“My hair is 100 percent mine,” he wrote in his 2004 book Trump: How to Get Rich. “No animals have been harmed in the creation of my hairstyle.”
That may be true, but we tend to agree with Dr. McAndrews. “I can’t definitively tell you exactly what Trump is doing with his hair,” he says. “But there’s something going on under there.”
(Originally published by Men’s Health.)