It has traditionally been the case that men wanting to surgically restore their hair loss
would have to wait until they were at least 30 years old, this being the recommended minimum age
for a hair transplant.
Now, however, according to a presentation given at London’s FACE conference on 16th
June 2018 by Dr. Mark Tam, “younger patients are also considering hair transplant as a treatment option to their early stages of hair loss, mainly receding hairline and temples in male pattern hair loss.”
Wayne Rooney after his first Follicular Unit Extraction hair transplant in 2011, which was followed up by additional work in 2013 (Image: Twitter/@waynerooney)
Dr. Tam queried whether the “traditional wisdoms of delaying treatment” were still appropriate. He advised that hair transplant surgery for a receding hairline
and temporal areas could be used in conjunction with non-surgical hair loss treatments
to potentially offer “substantial visual improvements” for men with early signs of Male Pattern Baldness
Wayne Rooney Effect
A potential reason for this uptick in younger men going straight for the surgical route is that many will have grown up with hair transplants being a fairly common procedure. This is known as the ‘Wayne Rooney Effect
’ due to the huge increase in visibility and interest for hair restoration surgery after the former England footballer openly shared his own journey via social media when he was 25 years old.
In the wake of reports concerning Wayne Rooney's hair transplant
, a huge surge of interest in the procedure was noted in a 2015 WhatClinic survey
, with a 165 per cent boost in the UK alone. In Scotland, a 400 per cent increase
in demand was noted and was also attributed to this phenomenon. Other celebrities, from James Nesbitt
to Will Ferrell
and numerous reality TV stars, have also been quick to share their own hairloss surgery stories, further encouraging an open diaglogue about how men deal with losing their hair - and keeping it.
As such, it has become increasingly commonplace for a once taboo subject to become not only de-stigmatised, but also something that men feel more comfortable discussing. Thanks to widespread international media coverage and a generation who grew up with the internet and social media, finding information about different options and hair loss solutions is easier than ever.
But, just as these technological tools provide great resources for finding out more about hair restoration, they also have a down-side. Various specialists have noted a rise in people’s insecurities as a result of ‘selfie-culture’
, with more men some as young as 16 - seeking hair transplant
Not a quick fix
One reason younger men may be tempted to go straight to for the surgical option is the assumption that it’s a ‘quick fix’ for dealing with hair loss. Various other presentations at the FACE conference backed the theory that men are attracted to quick and easy solutions when it comes to their appearance.
For instance, Dr Anastasia Saybel, during her talk concerning why botox facial injections are currently the most popular anti-ageing treatment for men, gave the following insight: "Treatment with botulinum toxin is the most popular procedure among male patients. Why? The answer is obvious: fast, virtually painless, has no recovery period and has a gradually developing, noticeable effect. Generally speaking, for men it is crucial to see a desired result. We, women, are ready to make tests and experiments, while men agree to suffer a little bit from pain/injections but the outcome must meet their expectations
It is commonly assumed that getting a hair transplant is a one-off way of restoring hair and preventing baldness
in future - so, perhaps worth going through a certain amount of discomfort and healing time for but this is not actually the case.
The reason Male Pattern Baldness occurs is due to an active hereditary sensitivity to the testosterone by-product, dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
. This is useful as bodies develop sexual characteristics during puberty, but after this time it is largely redundant. What it does then is bind to the susceptible hair follicles, located around the top of the scalp from hairline to crown, and gradually weaken them over time. The rate at which these follicles are diminished varies from person to person but ultimately results in thinning hair
, hair fall, and often eventual baldness in the affected areas.
During a hair transplant, follicles are harvested from areas of the scalp which are not vulnerable to the effects of DHT and replanted into the recipient site. What this means is that the transplanted hairs will be immune to DHT, however, the original surrounding hairs in the vulnerable areas will continue to suffer its effects. As such, it can be necessary to use clinically-proven treatments on an on-going basis in order to prevent hair loss around the grafts from this permanent genetic condition, and to preserve the overall look following surgery.
Anyone concerned about losing their hair who may be contemplating surgery is often advised to start this type of hair regimen at least six months prior to their op. The reasons for this are two-fold: firstly, to stabilise shedding and maximise hair growth which gives the surgeon more - and a cleaner area - to work with; and secondly, so a patient can ensure he is certain he wants to proceed with the transplant. Sometimes, after seeing their results from a pharmaceutical regime - often paired with key supporting hair growth products
- men may consider delaying or even ditching plans for surgery, especially in younger candidates.