A hair transplant is the most permanent solution for hair loss on the market, boosting confidence in clients and creating a younger-looking appearance.
However, not everyone is a suitable candidate for the procedure, and there are a lot of factors your surgeon will need to consider before recommending a hair transplant.
Hair restoration surgery is a big decision that requires a lot of thought; however, people often wait too long to go ahead with the transplantation. You may have been experiencing hair loss for years and are worried you’ve left it too late or have recently noticed hair falling out in the shower and want to know how soon you can undergo transplantation.
We’ll walk you through the best time to get a hair transplant and signs you may be too late, as well as some tips on preventing hair loss in the early stages.
What is the best age to get a hair transplant?
On average, the best age to get a hair transplant is between 25 and 40. However, this is a rough guide as hair loss can start as early as teenage years — the condition of your hair will be more of a deciding factor.
Although you can go ahead with the surgery at 18, the pattern of hair loss usually won’t have fully developed before age 25. Therefore, doing this too early could result in an uneven finish, requiring another hair transplant in the future to combat further baldness.
A transplant after 40 is also achievable, however, hair loss often increases with age. Therefore, undergoing the surgery as soon as possible will provide the most natural-looking results, as there will be more hair to work with.
You should never feel pressured into a hair transplant that will lead to poor results, which is why it’s so important to time it right. Speaking to a reputable clinic — like FUE Clinics — will ensure that you’re provided with the facts of your specific situation and will be presented with options that are best for you.
Who is the ideal hair transplant candidate?
Expert clinics will consider the following factors when deciding if you are a good fit for a hair transplant. Although age plays a part, the quality of your hair will better determine this.
Hair density is the number of follicles you have on your scalp and how close together they are. The more strands, the higher the density.
When considering if you’re a good fit for the procedure, a surgeon will look at the hair density in the donor area (where the grafts will be taken from). A high density of follicles will usually provide the most natural results, as the surgeon will have enough hair to work with.
A transplant may still be possible with a lower density if your hair loss is minimal.
Hair thickness is the width of each strand of hair. People with thicker hair will require fewer grafts to achieve their desired aesthetic results than those with thin hair.
A transplant with thicker hair will also provide a better overall appearance — thin hair allows room for light to reflect off the scalp, worsening the appearance of balding.
Similar to clients with thick strands, people with curly hair usually require fewer grafts to achieve great results with a hair transplant. Afro-Carribean hair is a good example of this — dense curls can help the scalp appear more covered than it is.
The cause of hair loss
A transplant may not be worthwhile if the cause of the balding is not permanent. For example, stress or cancer-related hair loss is often temporary and will grow back once the condition has subsided.
The extent of hair loss
Donor hair is finite, so the larger the balding areas, the harder it is to cover with a transplant and achieve a full head of hair. Therefore, the extent of your hair loss will need to be considered.
Signs you may be too late for a hair transplant
You have low hair density and thickness
Your surgeon is unlikely to — and shouldn’t — recommend you for a transplant if the hair follicles in your donor area are too few, as the results you desire probably won’t be achievable.
Therefore, as hair density and thickness usually reduce with age, undergoing the procedure as soon as possible will give you the best chance of success with a transplant.
Hair loss is severe
Balding usually advances as you get older, so if left for too long, there may not be enough hair grafts to cover the affected area on the scalp successfully. In this case, a hair transplant won’t be possible, but people with less severe hair loss may be able to have multiple surgeries to get the desired results.
Some clinics may use the Norwood Scale to determine the severity of hair loss when making a decision. Balding is often considered treatable before stage 7 (when there is only a band of hair remaining around the sides of the head). If you have reached this stage, you're unlikely to be a good candidate for a transplant.
At what stage of hair loss should you get a transplant?
The ideal time to get a hair transplant is when you’ve been losing your hair to male or female pattern baldness for at least five years (past stage 3 of the Norwood Scale). Balding usually stabilises at this point, so your surgeon will be able to see the pattern of your hair loss. This will minimise the risk of needing another transplant in the future.
Can you have a hair transplant when you’re bald?
The simple answer is no — a hair transplant is not possible when you’re completely bald. The procedure works by taking healthy hair follicles from the donor area and planting them in the part of the scalp that is experiencing hair loss. Therefore, this cannot be achievable if there's no hair left.
How can I prevent hair loss?
If you’re too young to get a transplant, you’ll probably want to know what you can do now. Besides — a hair transplant should be the last resort after trying preventative treatments.
The following tips will help with hair growth and prevent balding.
Eat a healthy diet
A poor diet can increase the effects of hair loss, as you may not be getting all the nutrients you need to stimulate hair growth.
A lack of antioxidants (compounds found in the body and food) in your diet can cause oxidative stress — an imbalance that can contribute to hair loss. Eating fruit and vegetables rich in antioxidants like spinach, kale, beans, and strawberries can help combat this.
Limiting food and drink that can add to oxidative stress — like processed foods, sugar, and alcohol — can also reduce the extent of hair loss.
An excess of stress hormones in the body for a long time can cause or worsen the symptoms of hair loss.
According to the NHS, regular exercise can reduce stress. Therefore, taking part in activities such as yoga and walking may be able to lessen the effects of hair loss.
Hair loss medication
Too much dihydrotestosterone (DHT) naturally present in the body can shrink hair follicles, contributing to balding. This is a condition typically associated with male pattern baldness.
Propecia — a hair loss treatment including the active ingredient finasteride — can be used to prevent the deterioration of hair loss.
Minoxidil is also a proven treatment for hair loss. This is a topical solution added to shampoo or lotion and applied to the scalp.
Before beginning any treatments, you should consult your GP for advice.
Should I get an FUE or FUT transplant for severe hair loss?
While FUE involves removing hair follicles individually with a micro punch, FUT is the process of removing a thin strip of skin from the back of the head and removing follicular units directly from the strip. Both procedures then require placing the follicles into small incisions made on the area of the scalp that is expereiencing hair loss.
Every client will be different, so speaking to an expert surgeon about these methods will ensure that your results are achievable.
To learn more about these methods and what to expect from your hair transplant, read our guide.
FUE Clinics are here to help
If you’re interested in a hair transplant and want to know if you’re eligible, contact FUE Clinics for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced surgeons are here to help you understand the process and your realistic expectations.