There are a few key questions I ask myself when determining who is a good candidate for hair transplant surgery.
Stable vs Unstable Hair
Determining whether or not your hair is ‘stable’ or ‘unstable’ hair is one of the most important questions I ask myself.
Hair restoration is really moving hair from the back of the head (your donor) to the area of hair loss (recipient), but there is a limited supply. Many younger patients visit the clinic complaining of significant hair loss in a short period of time.
If you are still losing hair it is often a better idea to first stabilise your hair loss with medications such as Finasteride or Minoxidil before proceeding with surgery. On the other hand if you have lost a significant amount of hair at an early age and your hair is now relatively static you might be a candidate for hair transplant surgery.
Donor vs Recipient
At your new patient consultation I need to decide whether or not your donor will provide enough grafts to cover the recipient area and whether or not that is a good idea.
The number of grafts we can move in your lifetime is finite and will depend on your donor, specifically the size and density. It will also be determined by the surgical technique utilised, Follicular Unit Excision (FUE) or Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT).
For younger patients this is especially important because it is very difficult to predict accurately your pattern of hair loss over the next 10-20 years and whether or not you will have enough grafts to achieve a natural result.
Setting realistic expectations
Your pattern of hair loss along with your goals and expectations will not be the same as other peoples.
An experienced surgeon will be transparent about what you are likely to achieve with hair transplant surgery and will suggest the best course of action to treat your hair loss. If they are unable to meet your goals or believe you have unrealistic expectations this should be spoken about openly even if that means disappointing you.
This can be especially important when consulting younger patients as hair loss can be a source of great stress and anxiety. I am often asked to design hairlines which are too low and straight or told that medication is not an option and a quick fix is desired.
Whilst this notion might be appealing in the short-term the long-term result will be unnatural looking hair and is often the reason why I refuse to operate.
Am I too young for a hair transplant?
Not necessarily. We regularly operate on younger men and women and have had excellent results. Long-term planning is the most crucial consideration and that can be particularly challenging when consulting younger patients, for example those under 25 years of age. There is however no ‘cut-off’ age and there are multiple factors taken into account when determining if you would be a good candidate for hair transplantation surgery.
Younger patients are generally more suited to Follicular Unit Excision (FUE) rather than Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) in order to allow them to wear their hair shorter in the future. However each case is evaluated on an individual basis.
I hope this article has been helpful in determining whether or not you may be a candidate for hair transplant surgery. A face to face consultation at the clinic is always the best starting point, and even if you think you are not a candidate for surgery at the moment it is worth coming in to go through all the treatment options and get some professional advice from the beginning.