Why No 18-Year-Old Should Ever Get a Hair Transplant
How young is too young for a hair transplant? It might come as a surprise to some people, but there is a minimum recommended age – and when I say that, I mean recommended by medical professionals.
Of course, dodgy practitioners abound in all areas of medicine and whilst performing a hair transplant on a too-young patient is not without risks, it’s unlikely to cause a fatality.
Hence, they see nothing wrong in caressing the egos of hapless (very) young men who think their lives are over because their hairline is receding … and charging handsomely for it.
In this age of instant gratification, it can be difficult to persuade young people – that’s you, late Gen-Y-ers/millennials – to wait for what they want. They’ve been raised on a steady diet of fast food and can have what they want delivered to the door at the mere click of an app.
Wayne Rooney is thought to have had his first hair transplant at the age of 25 /Credit: Twitter
Enter the professionals who will happily shut up and take your money if you spin the right sob story. Case in point, the clinic who recently played along for the nice rich father who bought his son a hair transplant for his 18th birthday.
He’s a good-looking kid, but he had noticed his hair thinning and Dad, who had been through the same thing himself, didn’t want his chip off the old block to be upset. So he forked out for a £3,000 hair transplant, then promptly booked himself in too so they could have matching daddy/son plugs. In my opinion, it shouldn't have happened.
So what is the minimum age?
As a general rule, according to leading IAHRS surgeon Dr. Scott Alexander of Biltmore Hair Restoration in Phoenix, 26 should be the minimum cut-off age for genetic hair loss. He also says that men who start losing their hair in their late teens and early twenties are at higher risk of going quite bald later in life.
One of the reasons for age limit, he says, is that the donor area in such a young male may not be entirely stable. It can be difficult to determine whether they have a ‘permanent’ zone. That means that the donor hair may not stay put when it’s transplanted and that the donor area will continue to thin. If that happens, the scars from the transplant will become visible, only compounding the problem. All this adds up to a short-term solution for an exacerbated long-term problem.
Low age, high expectations
Dr. Blake Bloxham, from Feller & Bloxham Medical in New York, says that in his experience, very young patients have very high expectations. They’re not usually satisfied with ‘filling in’ where the hair has thinned. Typically, they expect the same density and coverage as they had before losing their hair, which simply isn't going to happen.
Dr. Bloxham fully empathises with patients in their early twenties that are “desperately unhappy as a result of their hair loss and want a quick fix” and has found that they just want to look good today and don’t care if they look peculiar or scarred in the future.
Dr. Alexander says patients will commonly want a low, strong, straight hairline akin to what they’ve seen their favourite footballer or actor wearing. Sadly, lads, hair transplant surgery is not as simple – and certainly not nearly as enjoyable – as a Saturday morning appointment at your high street hair salon where your stylist’s name is Tiffany or Rafael and they’ll exchange gossip with you at the basin.
Both doctors agree that medical therapy should be the first port of call and will discuss the range of options with young guys who come in asking about a transplant.
The thing is, as desperately as a young man may want to sport a thick crop of hair at this prime time of his life, it really is a case of play now, pay later. The consequences in a few years time will cause far greater distress and will be much harder to remedy. Until the ripe old age of twenty-five, a more conservative approach is far wiser.
This article first appeared in Telegraph UK.