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When Should I Get A Hair Transplant?

For many men, hair loss is unavoidable.  In fact, if we live long enough, almost all men will lose hair.  To what extent and how fast is dependent on our genes.  If you are concerned because you’re noticing hair loss, you might ask when is the best time to get a hair transplant.  The answer really depends on your specific situation.

Hair Transplant Procedure Details

First, you have to know that hair transplant is not a surgery that grows hair where you are bald.  Instead, the procedure takes  hair in the back of your head and sides of your head and then implanting them into bald areas.  This is based on the theory of “donor dominance.”  What this means is hair which is programmed to grow throughout your life (which is the back and sides of your head) can be taken and placed in a bald area and continue to grow as if it were still in the back of your head.  But we all begin thinning at different ages and at different rates.  In addition, we need to determine what is our family history of balding.  This information helps give some prediction of how bald you will get and approximately when and how fast you’ll experience balding.  Finally, your particular social situation is also important.

One very general rule of thumb—and this is just a guidance—is we tend to be very hesitant to perform hair transplant in the young adult.  The reason is even after hair transplant, you are still going to lose hair.  Unfortunately, men who start to lose hair young also tend to have the most advanced forms of hair loss.  So if you get transplants at a young age, the transplanted hair will continue to grow for decades, but you will continue to lose existing (non transplanted) hair.  A young man needs to understand this and be prepared for the future pattern of hair he will have.   But this doesn’t mean we never transplant the young patient.  The young patient who is losing hair is also at a very important time in his life.  Self confidence is vulnerable during this time.  Also, you may be single and looking for a girlfriend and hair is a very important factor in the dating process.  Or you may be competing for jobs.  Despite our desire for competition based on resume alone, it’s just reality that people subconsciously still judge based on appearance.  And a full set of hair imparts sense of confidence, attractiveness, and health.  So sometimes it is reasonable to perform hair transplant on the young patient.

Usually, the best age is in the 40’s to 60’s where hair loss is progressing at slow rate.  You still have good donor hair, but your vertex (top) and front are very thin (or thinning).  Remember, hair transplantation is a procedure dictated by supply and demand.  You only have so much hair to supply from your donor area, and the demand (how much you’ll need to cover baldness) is variable from patient to patient.  The goal of a good hair transplant is therefore to take enough hair and implant just enough to frame your face.  This means transplanting hair to strengthen your frontal hair line, and focus on the frontal and mid scalp areas.  The very vertex or top of your head is the last place to transplant. 

Another factor to consider is how fast you are expected to lose your hair.  This is where getting a good history of your family history of balding can help.  If all the men in your family lose hair starting at older age, then you can get surgery once you are demonstrating progressive hair loss.  If your family loses hair slowly, you can benefit from maximizing your coverage.  On the other hand, if your family experiences rapid balding, then any surgery must take into consideration future hair loss and plan the best hair line that will still keep you satisfied in the next decade. 

In summary, there is no standard answer of when is best age.  The answer really depends on your unique situation.  Most important is how bothered are you by your hair loss.  Once you’ve decided you want transplant, then the next step is to see a board certified surgeon with experience in hair transplantation for in office exam and consultation to discuss all the factors we mentioned above. 

Contact a San Antonio Hair Transplant Surgeon

Dr. Kenneth Yu Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is a qualified team of experts serving the San Antonio, Texas area. To schedule a consultation, please contact our Concierge Patient Coordinator at (210) 876-6868.