Are hair transplants an option under 25?
Hair transplantation is rarely a good option in men under 25 and it's generally never an option for men in the early 20s (i.e. before age 23). I completely understand that hair transplants are performed around the world in young men age 18-22. However, I don't think it's a good idea.
Why hair transplants in young men is not advisable
In an effort to look better and do something positive, many men rush into hair transplants. Not a day goes by that I don't see it or hear it. There are a number of things that all young men should keep in mind.
1. Hair loss does not stop - it continues forever
Too many young men forget that hair loss will continue forever. If a patient is developing genetic hair loss at a young age, one thing is for sure: they will continue to slowly bald unless medication treatment is considered. Having a hair transplant does not stop the balding process - it only delays the appearance.
2. Males who start balding in the early 20s are likely to develop advanced balding patterns in their 30s and 40s.
It is critically important to understand that once genetic hair loss starts, it will continue forever. If balding starts at a young age, there is a very high chance that male will develop more significant hair loss in the 30s, 40s or 50s.
3. Males who have hair transplants in the early 20s must be prepared for more surgeries throughout their lifetime
If a hair transplant is performed in the frontal hairline at too young of an age, the hairs that are moved into the frontal hairline may last a long time. However, the hairs 'behind' this frontal area could potentially disappear as normal balding continues along its course. At hair transplant performed at too young of an age often leads to placement of place hairs in an area which could look unnatural in the future. A good example would be the placement of too low of a hairline or a hairline with not enough curve to it. In order for the patient to continue to look good and not have a 'gap' develop between the transplanted hairs and the continually receding hairline, the patient must return to the surgery centre from time to time for more transplants. In other words, if needs to be prepared for a lifetime of hair transplants. Therefore, a hair transplant is not a one time thing.
4. It's nearly impossible to predict prior to the mid 20s how many donor hairs a patient actually has.
If humans had an infinite number of hairs in the “donor” area to move through hair transplants, I would be more likely to advise that more young men move forward and have hair transplants. However, hair in the donor area at the back of the scalp is present in limited supply. A young male with balding may have anywhere from 0 hairs to move (if they have diffuse unpatterned alopecia or DUPA) to up to 8000 folllicular units to move in his lifetime. It may not be clear until the mid to late 20s whether the number is closer to zero or closer to 8000.
Before the mid 20s, one needs to keep in mind that it is just a 'guess' as to how best to use hair transplant grafts from the back of the scalp. As one ages, it becomes much clearer as to where it is best to place these grafts.
It's rarely a good idea for a young man to have a hair transplant before the mid 20s. There are exceptions whereby a hair transplant in a 23 or 24 year old can be life altering - but these are rare exceptions. In most cases, I recommend these young patients strongly consider non surgical treatments to try to stop their hair loss before considering hair transplantation.
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887