Jae Pak is an emergency medicine physician and gifted engineer who combats hair loss with artistry
Story By Brian Marks | Photo by Zsuzsi Steiner
As common as hair loss is, it can fill many men (and some women) with dread. Two-thirds of men will experience it by age 35, and about half of all women will experience hair loss during their lives.
Playa Vista resident Dr. Jae Pak, 48, is a pioneer in cosmetic hair transplants. He’s responsible for designing and developing many cutting-edge techniques in hair restoration, and he also happens to be a gifted engineer, an emergency medicine physician, a pilot and, when he has time, an artist.
I spoke with Dr. Pak at his office in the Sawtelle area.
Can you explain the Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) technology that you use?
Traditionally, hair transplants have been done by making an incision and taking an entire chunk of your hair out, and you would divide it up one by one under a microscope and put it back in one by one.
I was hired to help [his colleague, Dr. Rassman] create a robot that could actually shoot out the hairs one by one.
What are things people don’t understand about hair loss?
Fifty percent of the population is losing hair, but a misconception is that it’s due to something they’re doing, or stress. But 99.9% of hair loss in men is due to genetics. It’s nothing that you did. If your father, your grandfather had it, you’ll get it.
Another misconception is that there’s a cure for hair loss. There’s no real cure because there’s no curing your genetic trait. Potions, hair solutions, shampoos — they don’t work! What I do is move hair from one location to another location. I’m a professional mover.
Who are your patients?
It ranges from royalty from Saudi Arabia and Oscar winners to everyday people: plumbers, police officers, office workers. A variety of people from all walks of life.
Is this something the average person can afford?
It depends on what your priorities are. It can range from $3,000 to $10,000.
Why is it important to you to continue working in trauma centers?
I trained as an emergency medicine doctor, so it keeps my feet in both places. I see really healthy, happy, fun people here, and I see really sick and dying people in another realm. It keeps me grounded.
How do you incorporate your artistic talents with your work?
I’m not saying I’m an artist. But in high school, I wanted to work for Disney as an animator. I never got to go to Pasadena Art School, but I draw and paint in my spare time. So drawing and art and painting transfer very well into the cosmetic field, where I’m drawing someone’s hairline. You want your doctor to be like an artist.
What is it about Playa Vista that attracted you?
It’s a cool place to live! You can’t live in a community like that elsewhere in L.A. It’s very unique, it has everything. It’s like you’re living on the East Coast in New York, with stores right next to you, and movie theaters, all in walking distance. I think everybody says that, right? I don’t drive when I’m there, I can just walk.