Hair loss is common in men and women. It is an ordinary condition estimated to affect 50% of women and 60% of men of all age groups. However, it is more common in men, especially as they grow older.
Most men will experience hair loss before the age of 35. By age 50, an estimated 85% will experience hair thinning on the scalp. Unfortunately, some men even start to experience hair loss in their 20s due to genetics and other factors.
Luckily, there is a solution to this, and it is hair transplants. There are two main procedures used to correct thinning and hair loss. These are Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Transplantation FUT.
Hair Transplants and Age
One of the biggest questions about hair transplants lies with age. It is normal to wonder if these procedures are suitable for anyone with hair loss regardless of age. The quickest answer is no; there are some limitations on age. Keep reading to get some insight on what age is best to get a hair transplant and why younger patients may have to wait.
Which Is The Best Age For Hair Transplants?
Any hair transplant expert will tell you that older patients from the age of 30 and onwards are the best candidates for hair transplants. This is because people who explore surgery as an option need to have a stabilized hair loss pattern.
People who have been balding for 7 to 10 years or more have a stable hair loss pattern. As you reach the age of 30, hair loss is slower and more predictable. You know exactly which spots are going bald and which ones are thinning.
The transplant procedures involve the extraction of hair follicles for areas with no thinning. The surgeon then implants the follicles into the problem areas. With a stable hair loss pattern, the surgeon will quickly determine the harvesting and transplant sites. This will give you better quality results.
Why Aren’t Younger Patients Ideal Candidates?
Younger people in their 20s are not ideal candidates. This is because, first, the cause of hair loss may still be unknown. For example, you could go in for a hair transplant only to later discover that a medical condition caused the hair loss or a reaction to some mediation.
Secondly, younger people do not have a determined balding pattern yet. So if you go in for a hair transplant without a determined balding pattern, you could be back for more processes in no time.
The surgeon could extract the follicles from an area that will experience thinning or hair loss. Unfortunately, this means you will not get the desired results. Additionally, you could start balding in other places after a few years, meaning you would have to go back for more procedures.
As much as it may be hurting your self-image, it is always advisable to wait till you are past the age of 25 or so before you get a hair transplant. Give your hair loss a few years so the surgeon can easily track the pattern and find an ideal harvesting site.
What Can Younger Patients Use In The Mean Time?
If you are not willing to wait, there are other alternatives to hair loss treatment, ideal for younger people. These include:
- Minoxidil / Rogaine. This is a liquid or gel product that you apply to the scalp directly. Experts recommend this treatment to help stop male and female pattern hair loss. Initially, it started as a hypertension treatment drug, but trials showed improved hair growth. Now it is widely used to improve hair growth. The treatment expands the blood vessels, which promotes healthy blood flow to the hair follicles. You can expect to see excellent results at six months and onwards.
- Finasteride / Propecia. This is an oral treatment, exclusive to patients with male pattern baldness. This is because the drug is an anti-androgen. Anti-androgens are compounds that affect the function of androgens (hormones responsible for male characteristics), such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). An enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase converts testosterone into DHT, which promotes body hair growth in men. However, it hinders hair growth on the scalp. This pill blocks the enzyme, thus reducing the amount of DHT and skyrocketing testosterone levels. This increases scalp hair significantly.
Early Warning Signs of Hair Loss
Nothing beats preparation. The earlier you know, the better you can plan your treatments. Additionally, you will be better prepared mentally for hair loss. Some of the most common early signs of hair loss include:
- Changes in your hairline. You are not seeing things; your hairline is changing! The most common warning sign of hair loss is changes in your hairline. For some people, this goes unnoticed, and suddenly, your locks start falling out. Most people will notice thinning and receding at the temples and crowns. Compare pictures from two years ago to confirm your suspicions.
- Excessive hair loss after brushing/washing. It is normal to notice some hair loss after brushing or washing your hair. However, there is a fine strand between normal and excessive. Pay attention to how much hair falls off. Excessive hair for a day or two is no cause for alarm. However, every day is enough reason to go to an expert for diagnosis.
- Noticeable thinning. Thin-looking hair after showering, washing, or swimming is not a sign of balding. Instead, your hair needs to be dry and under the correct light. Again, you can use old photos to compare the thickness and volume of your hair. Thinning could mean balding, but not always.
Under the wrong light, such as fluorescent lighting, your hair could look thin even when it is perfectly normal. Therefore, always consider this when examining your hair. Additionally, having a bald relative does not mean that you, too, will go bald. Genes are unpredictable, so you cannot count this as a warning sign.
And finally, an itchy scalp is not an indicator of long-term hair loss. It has more than one cause, and the most common is dandruff. When in doubt, go to an expert for a reliable diagnosis.