Q & A: Hair Transplants for Younger Patients

Q:

Hey Doc.

Can I get your official thoughts on younger guys (Ages 19-26, but particularly guys in the 20s age range) getting hair transplants? That’s a question that comes up quite a bit and the general consensus seems to be to not get a hair transplant that young—that they should wait until they are at least in their late 20s or early 30s and their hairline has matured and the hair loss has stabilized. They also seem to recommend starting finasteride at that age to hopefully help halt the hair loss. Is this something you agree with? What is your stance on a 20-year-old getting a hair transplant? Or does it really depend on many other variables?

 

A:

It was the standard of care among hair transplant surgeons to wait until age 24 for a hair transplant. Before that, doctors could not be sure where their patients’ final stages of hair loss would end up. Today, we don’t follow such a restrictive guideline for a couple reasons:

1. We have better diagnostic tools today. We do microscopic evaluation (miniaturization study) that can tell us where people will be heading in the future and what their final stage of hair loss will be. As a result, we don’t have to wait until they look completely bald in order to know what their final hair loss stage will be.

2. We have better hair loss medications (like finasteride) that can slow a patient’s receding hairline, even at an advanced age. The age limitation for hair restoration that we had 20 years ago no longer applies today.

We have performed studies on the psychology of hair loss and hair transplant, and, as a result, we know the worst age for being hit by the negative psychosocial effects of hair loss is in the early 20s. It doesn’t make much sense to wait until the person become obviously bald to treat his or her condition.

It is important for the surgeon to consider different aspects before committing to giving a hair transplant to a young patient. It is also crucial that, if there is any doubt about the future class of hair loss, the doctor should  assume that the patient is going toward class VII and plan accordingly. This will prevent giving a very low hairline to someone who will be a class VII at some point during his life.