It was a headline designed to shock: "Balding teens spending thousands on hair transplants." The story in the New York Post discussed a few teenage boys who coaxed their wealthy parents to cover the cost of a hair restoration surgery to help reverse early signs of hair loss. If you are a teenager and are dealing with early signs of male pattern baldness, you might wonder if a hair transplant is the best option for you at the moment. It’s not. Before you decide on surgery, there are a number of things you want to think about.
Why Hair Restoration May Not Be Right for a Teen
While there are some surgeons who will perform a hair transplant on the occasional patient in his early 20s, it’s almost alwaysy recommended that a person wait some time before deciding on surgery. There are several reasons why it’s usually recommended that a teenager postpone surgery until he is in his mid-20s or even older.
One of the major reasons for waiting is that it is difficult to discern what the pattern of hair loss will be when a person is very young. An 19-year-old can have a hair transplant, only to lose a considerable amount of additional hair over the next few years, meaning he will need to have another procedure to correct any additional baldness that has developed. Since the transplanted hair is permanent, if the person continues to lose hair it may look stranger than it would have looked had he waited to have the surgery.
Why is There More of a Demand for Surgery Among Teens?
Some people are destined to lose their hair at a young age, thanks to their genes. Since some teenagers have been dealing with hair loss for years, people might wonder why there seems to be in an increase in demand for hair restoration surgery among the younger set now. It might be that social media culture, in which people regularly take selfies or are featured in photos with groups of friends, both of which get shared online, is playing a part. It could also be that today’s teenagers are more knowledgeable of their options or that their parents are more willing to put down the money to pay for the procedure.
Whether surgery is appropriate for a teenager is really up to the surgeon a teen works with. When the surgeon advises waiting to have a hair transplant, a person has more options than simply wearing a hat or wig and hoping for the best. For sure, there are effective treatments, in particular Propecia (finasteride), a pill that is taken once a day, or laser light therapy which is now an at-home treatment that can be extremely effective. In the crown in particular, Rogaine (minoxidil) can be effective, but needs to be applied twice a day, every day, and its results will wear off if a teenager stops using it.
Confirming that the cause of the hair loss is actually male pattern baldness can help you and your surgeon determine the most appropriate treatment option. For example, if you are losing your hair because of a nutritional issue, it usually more appropriate to adjust your diet than it is to use minoxidil or finasteride. If your hair loss was sudden, it could be due to telogen effluvium, a temporary shedding of hair that occurs when the body has a shock or a lot of stress. Usually, hair lost due to telogen effluvium grows back on its own after a few months.
Cases When a Teen Can Benefit
While a surgeon may almost always recommend that the teenage patient wait several years before having a hair transplant, there are some occasional cases when the procedure is appropriate for younger people. Hair loss that occurs because of a severe burn or a scar on the scalp can be treated with a hair transplant, no matter how old or young a person is. That’s because the hair loss is limited to a specific area and isn’t expected to continue to spread across the scalp as a person ages. If you are a teenager who has areas of baldness because of a burn or scar, it can be worth your time to explore how hair restoration can help you.
Dr. Jeffrey Epstein has been performing hair transplants for more than 20 years. He can evaluate the state of your hair loss and help you decide if the surgery is right for you at the moment. He practices in both NYC and Miami. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Epstein in NYC, call (212) 759-3484. For a consultation in Miami, call (305) 666-1774.