When is a hair transplant the right option?

Written by: Dr Greg Williams
Edited by: Lisa Heffernan

Receding temples? Male pattern hair loss under 30? Hair transplant surgery is becoming more and more popular. If we look at social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, we can see millennials posting photos of their post-operative hair transplant results. This is likely to be one of the reasons behind the growing popularity.

Young men look at photographs of celebrities who are advocating hair transplant procedures and see this as the best option to treat their receding hairlines and deepening temporal recession. Modern society’s growing obsession with looking good is also likely to be another factor. Dr Greg Williams talks about hair transplants and how to treat a receding hairline in men under the age of 30.

How can we recognise a receding hairline?

In adolescence, the typical juvenile male hairline is round. During puberty, the hairline starts to adopt that of an adult male, with temporo-parietal recessions resulting in the typical ‘M’ shape. The hair may stop receding or it may continue as the beginning of progressive male pattern hair loss (MPHL).

When is a hair transplant the right option?

Before undergoing hair transplant surgery as a young man under 30, the surgeon must try to predict whether progressive hair loss is likely, or whether the hair will stop receding on its own. Factors taken into consideration include:

  • Age of onset
  • Rate of progression
  • Family history of hair loss
  • Visible hair thinning in the middle of the scalp and crown

If progressive hair loss is likely then counselling and treatment with topical or oral medication and other non-pharmacological options to stabilise hair loss should be tried for a period of at least 12 months, before considering a transplant. Men under 30 who have no family history of hair loss, and whose hairline has remained stable with or without medical treatment will be most suited to the surgery. Young men should be cautious when choosing a specialist to carry out the surgery.

Some practitioners, like those that offer cheap deals overseas, perform hair transplant surgeries with only short-term rather than long-term objectives in mind. It is important to choose a highly qualified, ethical and experienced surgeon who has your best interests in mind.

The different types of hair transplant

If the patient and surgeon agree that a hair transplant is the best option, then the patient can decide between two types of donor hair harvesting.

1. Strip Follicular Unit Transplantation (Strip FUT)
2. Follicular Unit Excision (FUE).

Many young men choose the FUE option because it allows them to maintain a short haircut, as the small round post-operative scars are less visible with this method than the linear scar that results from a Strip FUT procedure.

What you should know about hair transplants

Hair transplants can take up to 18 months for full results. One major issue is that by the time the transplanted hairs are fully grown, the hairline may have receded behind them, leaving further balding and additional hair transplant surgery procedures may need to be carried out. For this reason, it might be better to delay a transplant whilst the hairline is rapidly receding.

Are there complications after a hair transplant?

Complications are unusual and 90% of transplanted hairs are expected to grow. Rare complications include infections such as folliculitis or cellulitis. If the transplant isn’t performed well then there can be limited hair growth or an unnatural aesthetic appearance.

Are there other methods to treat hair loss?

Before having a transplant, medications can be used to see if they reduce or stop the loss of hair or even improve the quality of the existing hair. These can include over the counter topical treatments such as minoxidil or prescription tablets such as finasteride. Non-pharmacological therapies include:

  • Microneedling
  • Mesotherapy
  • Platelet rich plasma
  • Low Level Light therapy
  • Stem cell therapy

If you are considering a hair transplant, book a consultation with a specialist and take a look at the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery for further advice.

By Dr Greg Williams
Aesthetic medicine

Dr Greg Williams is a leading hair restoration surgeon based at the renowned Farjo Hair Institute in London and Manchester. Dr Williams is a fully qualified plastic surgeon and previously lead the burns service at London's Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation. Currently, Dr Williams is the only member of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) who performs hair transplant surgery on a full-time basis.

Hence, Dr Williams is hugely committed to giving patients the highest level of care on their hair restoration journey. He uses the latest techniques and technologies available in the field of hair restoration and is an expert in hair loss treatments, FUE hair transplants and follicular unit hair transplant surgery. In addition, Dr Williams is a frequent lecturer, both in an academic setting at University College London, as well as at international conferences. He has also had numerous radio and television appearances.

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