EARLY HAIR LOSS – THE YOUNG PATIENT
Authored by, Masahisa Nagai, MD, FISHRS
Physicians do not typically recommend performing hair transplant surgery on anyone younger than 20 years old. They may have patients who notice hair loss and an early age, and who are tempted to do something about it immediately. However, immediate surgery is not recommended for anyone under age 20. First, other options and contributing factors need to be considered.
The first step is to understand what is causing the hair loss. There are many factors that could be contributing to it, including health conditions, diet and genetics.
If the hair loss is determined to be caused by pattern baldness, it is extremely difficult to determine the pattern of hair loss at such a young age due to the progression of the condition.
First, before surgery, there are a few other options to consider trying.
Patients can try the oral drug Finasteride, which can slow hair loss, and combine it with the topical minoxidil, which is applied directly to the scalp to slow hair loss. This combination should be the first attempt at slowing the progression of hair loss.
After 12 months, physicians can then examine the scalp again, mainly in the back of the head to see if there has been any progression, or if the drugs have helped slow the hair loss. If the physician determines that surgery can be performed based upon the severity of hair loss, the surgeon can operate, but not in the vertex area (the top of head).
The risk of transplanting hair on a young patient is that future hair loss still is a factor. The process of hair re-growth can take longer and understanding a patient’s family history will be important.
The best option is to wait until the condition has progressed, at least enough for a physician to identify a surgical plan.
While it can be difficult for a young patient to wait, it is usually the best course of action for those under 20. While waiting for the right time for surgery, the patients can use medicine to slow the hair loss.