Too far gone? When is it time to consider a hair transplant

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

One of the most common misunderstandings when it comes to hair loss is whether or not you’re losing your hair, or just aging gracefully. Men aged 18-29 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 just a natural part of getting older, and it does not mean you need to rush out and get an expensive hair transplant.

Bro, do you even hair transplant?

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

The first thing doctors do when identifying hair transplant candidates is examine the the cross sectional area 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 is in place to block the light, the less the appearance of baldness will be which can make the hair transplant procedure more difficult.

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 at all also include those who are suffering from diffuse unpatterned alopecia. As the name suggest this type of hair loss does not conform 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 would be a waste of both time and money.

Hair transplants take time to take root

Hair transplants are definitely appealing. It’s hard not to be seduced by the before and after pictures of men worn down by their withering masculinity, and then returned to their former hair whipping glory. The reality of going from the before pic to the aftermath is actually months of patience, pain, scarring, and hair care. It can take upwards of six months to a year for a hair transplant to begin to yield results resembling a youthful head of hair.

When most people think hair transplant they think instant results, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Infact for most of the time immediately following a hair transplant, many will look worse than they did with just their thinning hair. Undergoing a hair transplant is not a panacea for making your life better, nor will it automatically make you happy.

Can you afford it?

Hair transplants aren’t cheap. Starting prices for the procedure range from $4,000 to $6,000. However, you get what you pay for, an often times these hair transplants can lead to gross deformities. To get the job done properly usually requires a talented surgeon who will perform about 2,000 grafts at about $5 and $11 per graft. That equates to a hefty bill of about $20,000 which typically is not covered by insurance since the operation is purely cosmetic.

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 most cases it is easily reversible with oral or topical treatments especially if you catch it early.

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 a clinic. Wouldn’t it be better to take the thousands of dollars and do something more productive with it? Like pour it into any number of lucrative investments, your (future) children’s future, a sports car to mask your insecurity, or a life-changing vacation where you can sunburn your balding scalp? Nevermind that there are plenty of cost-effective alternatives that may take more time to reverse the hair loss, but are ultimately less invasive. 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.

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.