Is your hairline 'maturing' or a 'balding'?
It’s a little known fact among many men that the frontal hairline actually changes shape between the ages of 17 and 27 – even if that man doesn’t proceed to develop genetic balding. We refer to this normal change as ‘maturation’ of the hairline and we say that the man noticing these changes has a ‘maturing’ hairline. Eventually the hairline stops ‘maturing’ and we say that the man has a ‘mature’ hairline. Not all men’s hairlines proceed through this normal process of ‘maturation’ but most do.
The concept of a maturing hairline is extremely important to know about so that medical treatment or surgical treatment is not recommended to patients who don’t require it. For example, a 23 year old man who notices his hairline thinning out slightly in the area just above his eyebrows may not have genetic hair loss - but rather a ‘maturing’ hairline. He doesn’t need to begin any sort of treatment whatsoever. Several studies have shown that men with maturing hairlines don’t necessarily go on to develop balding. These are two completely separate processes!
Hairline maturation diagram
The following diagram helps to explain the process by which the hairline matures and how it differs from genetic hair loss. The hairline of a boy or early adolescent is relatively flat and we refer to this as a ‘juvenile” hairline. Between age 17 and 27, many men (but not all) start to notice that the hairline directly above the middle section of the eyebrow starts to undergo thinning (maturing).
In fact, if you wrinkle your forehead, you’ll see a series of lines that run side to side. The highest forehead wrinkle often marks a spot where the ‘juvenile’ hairline was once located. A ‘mature’ hairline is usually about 1-1.5 cm above this. In true genetic balding (male pattern hair loss), the hairline may recede beyond this 1.5 cm point and undergo even more significant recession in temple area.
Why is this concept important?
Understanding the concept of hairline maturation is especially important when it comes to designing natural looking hairlines during a hair transplant. Attempting to lower a ‘maturing’ hairline is a young man is usually not a good idea. Many young men want a more ‘juvenile’ hairline when they first meet for a hair transplant consultation. However, by proceeding down that route, the young man runs the risk of having his new hairline take on an unnatural looking appearance when compared to other males as he approaches his 30s, 40s and 50s.
Other References of Interest
Rassman WR, Pak JP and Kim J. Phenotype of normal hairline maturation. Facial Plast Surg Clin North Am 2013; 21: 317-23
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Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Vancouver office at 604.283.9299