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Too Far Gone? When Is It Time to Consider a Hair Transplant

Katelyn Hagerty FNP

Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 10/04/2020

Considering a hair transplant? Considering cutting it all off? It’s probably best to just take a deep breath and ask yourself "is all the drama necessary?" 

While it may look like your hair is thinning and you’re experiencing the first stages of balding, it could be that you’re simply maturing. In extreme cases some diseases can leave your hair follicles, or scalp, so damaged that a hair transplant is not even possible.

The Difference Between a Receding Hairline and a Maturing Hairline

The Difference Between a Receding Hairline and a Maturing Hairline

One of the most common misunderstandings when it comes to hair loss is whether or not you’re losing your hair, or just aging. 

Men in their 20s and 30s assume that they’re experiencing a receding hairline, when in reality their hairline is just maturing. A mature hairline is nothing to worry about. it’s just a natural part of getting older, and it does not mean you need to rush out and get an expensive hair transplant.

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Is a Hair Transplant Really What You Want?

One of the first things to consider is if you can even undergo a hair transplant procedure.

The first thing healthcare professionals do when identifying hair transplant candidates is examine the cross sectional areas of the scalp hair, as well as the scalp’s ability to produce healthy hair in certain areas. 

The appearance of baldness, particularly where the hair is thinning, is due to light penetrating past sparse or absent hair, and then being reflected off the scalp. 

So, the thicker the hair that’s in place to block the light, the less the appearance of baldness will be noticeable.

Generally speaking, the more curl or wave your hair has, the better it will be at covering the scalp. 

An excellent example of this is Afro-Caribbean hair, which tends to be tightly wound and has wonderful coverage properties, as it stands thick and mat-like above the scalp, blocking the light. In these men, it may be too late to successfully carry out a hair transplant.

Men who shouldn’t consider hair transplants also include those who are suffering from diffuse unpatterned alopecia. 

As the name suggests, this type of hair loss does not conform to a specific pattern like traditional hair loss (male alopecia), and mainly leads to changes in hair density, as opposed to complete baldness. 

For men suffering from diffuse unpatterned alopecia, hair transplant surgery may be a waste of both time and money.

Hair Transplants Take Time

Hair transplants are definitely appealing. It’s hard not to be seduced by the before and after pictures of men worn down by age and genetics, and then returning to their former hair-whipping glory.

The reality of going from the before picture to the after picture takes actually months of patience, pain, scarring and aftercare. It can take months or even a year for a hair transplant to give you the results you're looking for.

When most people think hair transplant they think instant results, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Don't Forget About the Cost

Hair transplants aren’t cheap. Even starting prices for the procedure can run well into the thousands of dollars. 

However, you get what you pay for, and sometimes spending the extra money can mean the difference between a proper head of hair or well… A mess.

To get the job done properly usually requires a talented surgeon, and depending on the severity of the surgery, can cost anywhere from a few thousand to over ten-thousand. 

There is no doubt, balding sucks.

it can make you the punchline of many tasteless jokes, or worse, make you feel deeply insecure. But it isn’t the worst thing, and in many cases, it’s treatable without the cost or hassle of a hair transplant procedure.

A hair transplant should be the last method you resort to in managing hair loss, and you should ask yourself some serious questions before contacting your healthcare provider. 

It’s also worth noting that, as hair transplants are essentially a surgical procedure, a patient must be in good health before undergoing hair transplantation. 

A good immune system helps with reducing the risk of complications and will help you heal more quickly and improve recovery time. 

Some medications may have an impact on bleeding or your healing time. Make sure you talk to your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions and types of medications you take daily before scheduling the procedure.

At the end of the day, a hair transplant is for those who truly have the means, the hair and the commitment to go through with it. For everyone else there’s minoxidil and finasteride to attempt to keep what they have and potentially grow some back.

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

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