There is a great deal of debate amongst hair loss professionals and communities concerning the appropriate age for receiving a hair transplant. Many people under the age of 25 are advised against hair transplant surgery. In this article, we’ll talk about the ethics involved, as well as the pros and cons of hair transplants before 25.
What makes a Good Candidate?
Previously, I have posted articles with information on calculating the percentage of hair loss and the amount of donor hair available. It is all based on sound math and science principles.
When determining whether you may be a good candidate for a successful hair transplant, there are five factors to consider.
- Current hair loss pattern, as well as the future hair loss pattern
- Extraction method and required number of grafts
- Expectations of the patient
- The clinic performing the hair transplant
To explore all these factors, I am going to talk about an actual patient we evaluated a few weeks ago. We’ll call him Jim.
Jim came to us devastated over his hair loss. At the age of only 22, his hair loss was having a significant negative impact on his self-esteem and ability to fully enjoy his life. His hair loss was at a NW3 with clear signs of progression to NW6.
When meeting him, my initial gut reaction was that he was far too young to undergo a hair transplant. His age, combined with the pattern of his current and future hair loss didn’t really make him an ideal candidate.
But, during the consultation my opinion changed. Discussing the procedure and helping Jim to manage his expectations allowed us to arrive at a compromise. In the end, the decision usually hinges on the client’s expectations and what the clinic is willing to do.
Jim’s young age and hair loss pattern meant that he would need more than one hair transplant during his lifetime to achieve a natural look. It also meant that his supply of donor hairs was going to be very limited. We needed to come up with a plan to get him closer to his ideal look.
Initially Jim, like so many others, had unrealistic expectations. Of course, he wanted a full head of hair with the low front hairline he had when he was 18, but his individual conditions made this unrealistic. Once he got the knowledge science provides, he was able to adjust his expectations to his reality.
The compromise we reached would give him a younger look and take him through his later years with a natural look. It would also preserve as much donor hair as possible for future use.
- Graft Count. We designed a low density graft of 1500 to create a higher hairline with receding in the temple area. By doing this, we created a frame to his face. We also left plenty of hair in the donor site for future use.
- FUE Technique. Considering Jim’s age and balding patterns, FUE was chosen as the harvesting technique. The small appearance of dot-like scarring left would allow for shaving the head or keeping it a very short level.
- Higher Hairline. Once I explained to Jim the benefits of a higher hairline and the natural look it would provide as he aged, he adjusted his expectations to a more realistic level. The higher hairline allowed us to harvest fewer grafts, give Jim a more youthful appearance and leave a denser donor area.
By taking an honest and straightforward approach with this patient, we were able to move Jim closer to his ideal look. Helping him manage his expectations and taking the time to explain the pros and cons left him satisfied with his decision.
The decision to perform hair transplant surgery is not just about age and patterns of hair loss. It is also about planning for the future with realistic expectations.