Oscar Nominees' Gift Bags Include Free Hair Transplants In Chicago

None of this year's major Oscar nominees are from Chicago, but some of the losers may be making the trip here post-awards show. No, not to film a new movie, but rather to get hair transplants.

This year, the notoriously extravagant gift bags for Oscars losers include a voucher for Chicago surgeon Dr. William Yates' hair restoration procedure. Dr. Yates says he is one of the few surgeons in the United States who performs the procedure using the new-age equipment known as ARTAS, and he wants to share the love.

The procedure is less invasive and the recovery time is much shorter than hair transplants with plugs, he said.

"I wanted to introduce the stars to the new technology," Dr. Yates said.

Valued at $16,000, Dr. Yates' gift is the most expensive item in this year's gift bags. It barely edges out the second most expensive gift -- a $15,000 walking tour of Japan.

This is the first year Dr. Yates is participating in the gift-giving tradition, but his practice is not the first Chicago-area company to do so. Schaumburg-based chocolate company Chocolatines is participating for the fifth time this year.

The expensive gifts are meant to console the losers in the categories of Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Director. The host -- this year Ellen DeGeneres -- also receives a bag.

But the benefit isn't solely for the losing nominees. The companies who give away their products for free also see the potential for celebrity endorsement.

Although hair transplants aren't items that can fit into a gift bag, per se, it's possible they will be a hit. Everyone over the age of 30 has suffered from some degree of hair loss, Dr. Yates said, and this includes most of the major nominees.

The surgeon first got the idea to gift his services to the Oscars when he was working at a hair restoration clinic in Beverly Hills before he moved to Chicago. That's where he saw the celebrity interest in such procedures.

Dr. Yates has performed his procedure on local celebrities and athletes, but he has yet to perform it on A-list celebrities. He is not nervous, however, about the prospect of taking responsbility for the hairs on the heads of Leonardo DiCaprio, Judi Dench, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.

"Everybody's hair is the same to me," he said.

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