Q: I am 24 years old and just starting to thin. I was told by another doctor that it was too early to have a hair transplant, but the hair on the back and sides of my scalp seems really thick. Shouldn’t I have a hair transplant now, just in case I am not a candidate in the future? — A.S., Cherry Hill, NJ
A: The most important criteria in determining who will be a candidate for a hair transplant is the presence of sufficient permanent donor hair. When hair loss is early, it is often hard for the doctor to determine this, since early on the donor area can appear very stable. It is not until the front and/or top of the scalp has significant thinning that the donor area may also show thinning. Therefore, it is only at this time that the stability of the donor area can adequately be assessed.
It has been argued, that one should have a hair transplant early, before the donor area can thin. This is not a reasonable argument, since doing a hair transplant early, does not make the donor hair more permanent. If the donor area is not stable, the transplanted hair will continue to thin after it has been moved to the new location. This will cause the hair transplant to gradually disappear and also risk the donor scar from becoming visible as the hair covering it continues to thin. This problem can affect patients undergoing both FUT and FUE procedures.
Age itself is another factor to consider. The donor area in young people almost always appears adequate. However, the older a person is, the more likely he/she will show donor changes. Therefore, the older a person is, the more confident we are of donor area measurements being accurate. In very general terms, it is very difficult to assess the permanency of one’s donor area in patients under 25 year of age.
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