Patients are often concerned they are too young or more likely too old for a hair transplant. Others just want to know what is the best time for a hair transplant. This is a complicated question, but here are a few things to keep in mind.
Although older patients are more concerned about age being an issue, they are often the best candidates. This is because our hair loss patterns become more defined as with age allowing better decisions where the grafts are most needed and less worry about creating an unnatural look. Donor hair remains very viable even in our later years and well-placed grafts can give a rejuvenated appearance even in those with advanced hair loss.
Younger patients are more of a challenge. In these situations, we really must guess how future hair loss is going to occur. While age, rate of hair loss, family history as well as other factors can give us some guidance, it is important to be conservative to not create a look that will look unnatural in the future or to use grafts that may be needed elsewhere down the road. It is especially important to be cautious in treating the crown area in patients in their 20s and 30s. One, as the patient continues to lose hair, this can create an unnatural ring affect with circles of hair, no hair and hair again (think hare Krishna hair style). In addition, this takes grafts that may be sorely needed in the critical frontal hairline with continued hair loss in the future.
My guidelines for patients deciding when to do a hair transplant depends on several points. First off, the patient is ready and motivated to see a difference and are bothered by their hair loss. Despite claims by some hair consultants, there is no benefit to “prophylactically” treating an area. Second, I think that the patient can be treated effectively and safely without long term consequences. Lastly, there is not a medical condition or medication affecting their hair loss that needs to be treated first. If these criteria are met, then a hair transplant can be considered.
The first step to deciding if it is the right time for you to have a hair transplant is to meet with a board-certified physician who is board certified and focuses on hair restoration.