What is the youngest acceptable age for hair transplant surgery?
I think each hair restoration physician has an unofficial “cut-off” age that he or she is comfortable with. For me it is 23. However, if the front-central framing of the face is disappearing in a 21 or 22 y/o fellow, I will consider placing some follicular unit grafts in the front half of a forelock-type pattern so that his face is somewhat framed. In doing so, I am not cutting across the temples trying to connect to anything on either side.
If there are danger signals that a young man could go on to VII on the Norwood Scale (fringes down the sides of the head), then I will only do an oval or “shield” shaped forelock pattern, which mimics a normal stage of hair loss that a lot of men naturally pass through. Those signals could include male relatives with Class VII baldness, “whisker hair” above the ears (curly hairs), or indistinct fringe with miniaturization in the upper fringe.
I stay out of the crown/vertex and the side temples area (just above the sideburns) in men under 35, because filling in these areas in a young man could backfire with a very freakish look later in life that the patient would regret.
I certainly agree with the strategy of getting the very young men on the medical hair loss treatments Rogaine (minoxidil) and Propecia (finasteride) and have had a lot of very nice results with this regimen. However, if a 23 or 24 year old young man is clearly starting to bald and wants help, I think that, as long as his expectations and general psychological state are reasonable and normal, we should try and help them. But the plan has to be conservative and take into consideration the “worst-case-scenario” for that young man.
Mike Beehner, M.D.
Editorial Assistant and Forum Co-Moderator for the Hair Transplant Network, the Coalition Hair Loss Learning Center, and the Hair Loss Q & A Blog.
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