I wish to touch on this topic as it seems to be coming up a lot in articles and the like and I often get told by people (without them putting in some thought) that age should be considered when considering getting a hair transplant.
In my opinion your age is irrelevant when considering hair transplantation. At the end of the day it comes down to your hair loss to date. If all men lost hair at the same rate, then I would say yes wait until you get to a certain age to consider hair transplantation, but obviously that is not the case.
We all have a different genetic predisposition for hair loss. Due to genetics I lost a great deal of hair at a very early age, and by the age of 23 I was a IV on the Norwood Scale. This means I didn’t have much more hair to lose, so why would I wait until I am 30 or 35 and lose all those years being unhappy and down on myself? I have work colleagues who are in their 50’s and have a fuller head of hair then I did at 23.
If you are a Norwood III and above, then you have noticed considerable hair loss, and “going bald” is what you think when you look in the mirror. So if you decide after careful research that you wish to undertake a hair transplant then speak to your potential surgeon and come up with an effective and sustainable solution to transplant the hairs you need now in order to satisfy your current aesthetic needs and obtain decent coverage. That way if you continue to lose more hair (remember at a Norwood IV, you really don’t have much more hair to lose, you have already gone past half-way) you still have enough donor hair for a future transplant if required.
Remember guys that there is an emotional driver behind the decision to consider a hair transplant. We don’t need hair on our head for any reason, it is purely an emotional decision (we look in the mirror and get pissed off looking at our shiny heads!). So if you want hair on your head, your younger age should not be a deciding factor at all.
So to answer your questions, especially those mothers worrying about their young sons spiraling into low self-esteem due to hair loss, the more appropriate question should be “At what level of hair loss should we consider hair transplantation surgery” not “What age should we be before considering hair transplantation surgery.”
Another very important aspect of hair transplantation which should be taken into account is generally younger men in their 20’s will obtain better results than a man in his 40’s or 50’s getting a HT at the same level of hair loss. So a 23 year old male is a Norwood IV and another male is 43 also a Norwood IV, more often than not the 23 year old will obtain a better result from the same HT. This comes down to healthier donor hair, which a 23 year old would be expected to have and obviously better blood flow/circulation to the scalp, and protein/nutrient synthesis is more efficient in a younger male. These variables are vital to obtaining a good result from your HT.
Now the above is my opinion and I would appreciate an effective discussion into this topic as I imagine it is a big question on many young guy’s minds on this forum.
It’s interesting that you bring this up as recently published this topic to our Hair Transplant Network Blog. Perhaps you saw it since this is exactly the situation I wrote about.
I never discourage anyone from consulting with ethical hair transplant surgeons. Ultimately, that’s where they’re going to get the best advice.
I agree that age is not a “one size fits all” descriptor for determining candidacy for surgical hair restoration. Age is just one of the factors that must be considered and, in general, surgery is not an appropriate choice for a lot of very young guys. While, in the case of a young man who’s lost about all the hair he can lose, planning for future balding is not a concern, what may be a concern is the young man’s expectations. Also, I’ve personally heard many young guys state that they just want to look good now. They won’t care how they look at 30, 40, 50 and beyond. As someone well past the age of 40, I can tell you this is not the case but I would have thought the same thing in my youth.
Speaking from my own experience, I started receding at around the age of 20. For me it was devastating because I had very long hair in those days. However, the long hair was hiding a hairline that I was ashamed of. Around this time I had consulted with Dr. Shelly Friedman in AZ, Bosley in CA and a third, grimy and shady clinic also in AZ, about restoring my hairline. Dr. Friedman and Bosley advised me that I was not yet a candidate for surgery and suggested I come back in about a decade. The shady clinic was ready to operate on me if my wallet was fat enough.
The point is that I had unrealistic expectations: more so considering the state of surgical hair restoration in those days. But, I would have eagerly said yes to anyone promising to restore my juvenile hairline at that time. Fortunately for me I was broke and they wouldn’t finance me or my hair restoration story would be a different one today.
A 30, 40 or 50 year old Norwood V or VI is likely going to be happier with his potential results than a younger man with the same degree of hair loss; while a young guy in the situation I was in would wish to restore a juvenile hairline and potentially end up looking odd later when he loses too much hair to maintain a natural appearance.
We all know that hair restoration physicians are well paid. There is no money in turning patients away. Ethical physicians will advise what they feel is in the best interest of the patient, long-term.
I recommend that young balding guys consult with a skilled and experienced hair restoration physician like those recommended by the Hair Transplant Network. Also, consider Propecia (finasteride) and Rogaine (minoxidil) and do your due diligence when researching hair loss, hair transplants, medical hair loss treatments, etc. No one will watch your back as carefully as you will.
To share ideas with other hair loss sufferers visit the hair loss forum and social community.