You’re considering getting a hair transplant – but when’s the right time to do it? There are lots of factors which determine the best time to get a hair transplant, from the age of the patient to the extent of the hair loss.
Arranging your hair transplant at the most appropriate time will produce the best results, which is why it is important to act fast and consult a specialist as soon as you notice that you are suffering from hair loss. In this post, we discuss everything that there is to know about the timing of your hair transplant so that you can achieve the very best results possible from your treatment.
What is the best age to get a hair transplant treatment?
Generally speaking, the best time to get a hair transplant is any period between the ages of 25 and 40.
Of course, anyone over the age of 18 can get a hair transplant if they wish to. However, patients are advised to wait until they are at least 25 because a patient’s hair loss pattern is unlikely to have fully emerged prior to this, which means that it will be difficult to treat the balding. Moreover, patients in their twenties are likely to experience further balding as they age, which will spoil the results of the hair transplant and require a second treatment.
Consequently, patients who are younger than 30 and suffer from mild hair loss are advised to consult their doctor about hair loss medications, such as Finasteride or Minoxidil. These medicines will slow down the rate of hair loss, which – by preserving your hair – will also help to ensure that you are a suitable candidate for a hair transplant treatment later in life, should you choose to have one.
After the age of 40, hair loss tends to accelerate rapidly. It is important to act fast when it comes to treating balding: the more healthy hair that is available for transplantation, the better and more natural-looking the final result will be.
Consequently – although it’s perfectly possible to have a successful hair transplant after 40 (and many do) – it’s generally better to seek treatment prior to this, as the extent of the balding will be less extreme and therefore more treatable.
What is the best age to get an FUE hair transplant?
Follicular Unit Extraction (or FUE for short) is one of two primary techniques for harvesting and transplanting hair follicles. The procedure works by extracting the follicles one by one from the donor regions of the scalp, and then immediately re-inserting them into the treatment areas.
FUE is generally considered to be the most effective hair transplant technique because it produces minimal scarring and is less invasive than FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation). Nevertheless, the most appropriate hair transplant method depends on the needs and requirements of an individual patient (for example, FUT may be more suitable for patients who are experiencing severe hair loss, since this technique allows a surgeon to harvest a greater number of hair follicles from the scalp).
Severe balding typically begins around the age of 40 (though, of course, this can vary from patient to patient). For this reason, FUE hair transplants are generally more appropriate for patients in their 30s. After this time, the balding areas of the scalp are likely to be large, which will require more hair follicles to fill – and so your surgeon is more likely to recommend a FUT hair transplant instead.
How do FUE hair transplants work?
Unlike the more traditional FUT procedure, the FUE method involves harvesting individual hair follicles from the donor areas of the scalp, one at a time.
In most cases, the lower back and sides of the scalp serve as the donor areas, since the hair in these regions is usually thick and healthy. Indeed, these areas are not affected by male pattern baldness (which is why the condition creates a horseshoe-shaped of hair running along the lower half of the head), making the hair that grows here suitable for transplantation.
During the procedure, the donor areas are shaved. Then, your surgeon will use an instrument called a micro punch to extract hair follicles from this region. These are then directly re-implanted into the balding areas of the scalp.
Unlike FUT (which creates a single, linear scar in the donor site), FUE produces minimal scarring. The micro punch will create small, circular scars in the areas from which hair follicles are removed, which can be easily concealed using the surrounding hair.
Furthermore, as the procedure harvests hair follicles in a random fashion, thinning in the donor area will be less noticeable than it typically is after a FUT procedure.
What happens if you get an FUE hair transplant too early?
When a patient is very young, it is difficult to determine the shape that the hairline will eventually take, and predict the pattern of their hair loss – which can cause problems down the line.
Ultimately, a hair transplant works by removing thick, healthy hair from one region of the scalp, and transplanting it into the balding areas of the scalp. The transplanted hair will continue to grow healthily forever (since the transplanted hairs are harvested from areas that are not affected by male pattern baldness). However, though the transplanted hairs will remain in place, the patient’s natural hair will continue to thin and fall out. This may lead to a very unnatural look and will require a second treatment to fix.
In other words, a hair transplant cannot protect you from further hair loss; it can only treat the balding that has already occurred. If you are experiencing hair loss in your twenties, it is – unfortunately – very likely that you will continue to experience further balding as you age. In order to spare yourself the hassle of arranging additional, top-up hair transplants in your thirties, therefore, it is best to wait until your hair loss has progressed and defined itself a little more.
How can I protect my hair and prevent balding while I’m young?
If you are too young to get a hair transplant, you may be asking yourself, ‘what can I do now to protect my hair?’
Unfortunately, male pattern baldness is a hereditary condition, and – if you have a genetic disposition for it – there is nothing that you can do to prevent baldness completely. Nevertheless, there are some lifestyle habits that young people can adopt to slow down the rate of hair loss, such as:
1. Quitting Smoking or Vaping
Smoking reduces blood flow to the scalp, which prevents your hair follicles from receiving the plentiful supply of oxygen and nutrients that they need to produce thick, healthy hair. Quitting smoking whilst you are still young will ensure that you maintain your hair for longer by slowing down the rate of hair thinning and loss.
2. Eating a Balanced, Healthy Diet
The food that you eat has a direct impact on the health of your hair. In fact, hair follicles are mostly made up of protein, so incorporating fish, eggs, nuts, beans, and other healthy protein-rich foods into your meals will help to increase the strength and length of your hair.
Foods that contain zinc, such as oysters, avocados, and poultry, will boost your body’s ability to repair broken hair, whilst foods that contain Vitamin E (such as red bell peppers, peanuts, and pumpkin) will help to keep your scalp in good health.
3. Stimulate your Scalp
Blood flows through the scalp to feed your hair follicles with the nutrients that they need to grow strong, healthy hair. When the scalp becomes irritated, infected or inflamed, the hair follicles can become damaged, leading to thinning and hair loss.
Developing a hair care routine whilst you are young – which involves gently washing and taking care of your scalp – will help you to maintain your hair for longer as you age. Moreover, massaging the scalp on a regular basis can increase blood flow to the hair follicles, which will boost growth.
At what stage of hair loss should you get a hair transplant treatment?
There are seven stages of balding. These are displayed on the Norwood scale, which is a popular classification system for hair loss in men.
The best time to get a hair transplant is when you are at stages 3 or 4 of the Norwood scale. These stages are characterised by the emergence of a U-shaped hairline, and some thinning or balding at the crown. The degree of hair loss at this time is significant enough to be treated via surgery – but, crucially, there will also still be enough healthy hair remaining in the donor areas for transplantation, which is why this is the perfect time to achieve excellent and natural-looking results.
By contrast, patients who are at stages 1 to 2 of the Norwood scale are not appropriate candidates for a hair transplant, because the extent of the hair loss at this time is not yet extreme enough to warrant a surgical solution. Instead, patients at stage 1 of the Norwood scale should simply adopt healthy lifestyle habits that will boost the rate at which their hair grows (such as eating a nutritious, balanced diet and reducing stress).
Similarly, patients at stage 2 of the Norwood scale should seek a non-surgical solution for their hair loss. For example, hair-boosting medicines such as Minoxidil or Finasteride can be taken at this time (though you must consult a healthcare professional before taking them) or PRP therapy.
Patients at stages 5 to 7 of the Norwood scale can still arrange a hair transplant. However, as more hair is lost, treatment options become increasingly limited. Hair transplants work by transferring healthy hair from the donor regions to the balding areas of the scalp, and – once hair begins to thin or shed in the donor regions – it is no longer possible to transplant them.
In some cases, patients who are at stages 5 or 6 of the Norwood scale may be given a prescription for Minoxidil or Finasteride by their surgeon. These medications must be taken in the weeks preceding the transplant, in order to boost hair growth in the donor regions.
By stage 7, a FUT hair transplant may become preferable to FUE. This is because more hair follicles can be harvested using the FUT technique, which will allow the surgeon to fill in a larger balding area. However, FUT is a more invasive form of surgery and creates a larger scar, which is why patients are advised to seek a hair transplant earlier than this stage.
Moreover, hair transplants that are performed when a patient is at stages 5 to 7 of the Norwood scale tend to produce a slightly less desirable result, because there is not enough hair in the donor site to achieve full coverage. Consequently, though it is possible to perform a hair transplant in the later stages of the Norwood scale, the best time to arrange the surgery is when you are at stages 3 or 4.
Is a hair transplant worth it?
If hair loss is causing distress or affecting your self-esteem, then a hair transplant is certainly worth considering. By replenishing lost hair, the surgery can make a huge impact on a patient’s life by boosting their self-confidence
Hair transplants produce stylish and natural-looking results, because (unlike wigs, toupees or other solutions for balding) the treatment uses a patient’s real hair to fill in bald spots and thicken thinning areas.
The final result is also permanent, so your new hair will last for a lifetime. This makes hair transplants preferable to hair loss medicines, which – though cheaper – must be invested in continually in order to maintain the look.
What is the best age to get a beard transplant?
As with hair transplants, the best age to get a beard transplant will vary from patient to patient. As a rule of thumb, however, patients are advised to wait until they are at least 30 years old before arranging a beard transplant.
Before 25, the beard is still developing. This means that, if your beard is not as thick as you would like it to be in your late teens and early twenties, there is still time for it to grow naturally. It is generally best to wait for this natural growth, rather than arrange a beard transplant treatment prematurely.
By 25, the beard will have matured as much as it is going to, and the shape of the facial hair will have fully defined itself. As a result, patients who are 25 or above are generally suitable candidates for a beard transplant.
What happens if you get a beard transplant too early?
Some men begin to lose facial hair – or experience thinning in the beard area – as early as their late teens and early twenties. In these cases, it can be tempting to arrange a beard transplant to treat hair loss and restore the beard.
However, like hair transplants, beard transplants cannot prevent future hair loss. Instead, a beard transplant treatment can only restore the hair that has already disappeared. If you are very young, it is likely that you will continue to experience further facial hair loss as you age.
This means that – if you are a patient in your late teens or early twenties – a beard transplant will fill in the bald patches of your beard and thicken the thinning areas. However, as you grow older, other areas of your beard are likely to begin to shed hair. This can lead to the emergence of new bald patches and will create an unflattering, unnatural look. As a result, a second beard transplant will be required to fix the new hair loss.
Nevertheless, there is no minimum age requirement for a beard transplant. If you are in your late teens or early twenties and would like this treatment, you can arrange a consultation with one of our friendly specialists, who will determine whether the procedure is suitable for you.
How can Aventus Clinic help you?
If you would like to have a beard or hair transplant, but are unsure whether you are the correct age for the treatment, you can arrange a preliminary consultation at Aventus Clinic via email or over the phone.
During your consultation, one of our specialists will examine your hair growth and review your family history of hair loss. They will ask questions about your lifestyle and medical history, such as whether you have had hair transplant surgery in the past. Finally, you will discuss your goals and expectations for the surgery, to ensure that you achieve the final result that you desire.
Upon reviewing this information, we will be able to determine whether a beard or hair transplant is suitable for you. The consultation will also ensure that the procedure is personalised to meet your individual wishes and requirements.
- Bernstein, Robert, ‘Avoiding Pitfalls in Planning a Hair Transplant’, Expert Review of Dermatology, 3 (2008), 501-508.
- Roland, James, ‘How to Grow a Beard and How Long to Wait’, Healthline (2020).
- Dua, Aman, and Kapil Dua, ‘Follicular Unit Extraction Hair Transplant’, Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, 3 (2010), 76-81.
- Jewell, Tim, ‘Everything to Know About a FUE Hair Transplant’, Healthline (2020).