How Young Is Too Young For A Hair Transplant?

04/05/2017 12:30 BST | Updated 04/05/2017 12:30 BST

I'm often asked when the golden age is to have a hair transplant. And the truth is, there isn't one. 

But there are great risks associated with having a hair transplant too young. 

Unfortunately, patients in their early twenties are often desperately unhappy as a result of their hair loss and want a quick fix.

In many cases, they say they want to look good now, and don't care if this leaves them looking strange or scarred when they get older. 

But of course we all care about our hair and appearance far beyond our thirties and forties. It is not uncommon for me to perform hair transplant surgery for men in their sixties and seventies.

That's why it's important that as surgeons we are responsible and ethical, and are able to guide patients when their own anxieties leave them unable to make a safe decision for themselves. 

The problem with having surgery under the age of 25 is that hair loss is a progressive condition and the supply of donor hair we have to use in hair transplant surgery is of a very limited supply. 

This is especially concerning in patients who lose hair at a young age, because they are much more likely to go on to have extensive hair loss in the coming years. 

These young men are usually at a very vulnerable time in their lives when they are forming relationships, looking for jobs and generally finding their place in the world. 

Of course, having the added worry of hair loss at such a young age is incredibly distressing and it is no surprise that these patients look for any solution that is offered to them.

Generally, young patients who are very distressed by the hair loss at such a young age will be asking for a very low, strong, straight hairline - often ones they have seen on famous footballers or celebrities.

While these hairless may look good for a year or two, they will look unnatural and sometimes quite ridiculous if they continue to lose hair behind this hairline. 

I fear that the recent explosion in popularity of hair transplant surgery, and huge number of hair transplant clinics popping up all over the world, means that lots of patients are undergoing surgery when it really isn't in their best interests, getting poorly-designed hairlines with no consideration for a natural look. 

It will be a great shame to see these patients in the next five or 10 years when their transplanted hairlines persist but the rest of their hair falls out. 

As a doctor, I see that it is my role to protect them from making rash decisions that end up causing them far more distress in later life. 

And at The Maitland Clinic we work hard to bring a strong element of artistry to our work - making sure the hairline is tailored specifically for the patient. 

Most transplant doctors agree that the minimum age for a hair transplant is around about the age of 25. By the age of 25 we have some idea of where the hair loss is progressing to - and can help. 

There is lots that can be done for young hair loss sufferers which doesn't expose them to the risks of poorly planned or inappropriate surgery. 

With correct planning and counselling, young patients can certainly undergo surgery but they need really good education and their expectations need to be realistic.

Unfortunately young, anxious and desperate patients are very vulnerable and if someone is not thinking about their future, these patients will undergo very inappropriate surgery they are almost certainly going to live to regret.