The right time for a hair transplant
October 19, 2018 | By Dr. Sangay Bhutia (Hair Transplant Specialist in Delhi)
Come to think of it, undergoing a hair transplant is a very crucial decision. It has a direct effect on how we look, how people perceive us, how we perceive ourselves, and evenhow we measure our self worth in terms of beauty and youth. Hair loss is known to have a negative impact on people’s mental health and can deeply affect them emotionally. Therefore, various decisions around a hair transplant can be hard to take. Which clinic should I choose, what doctor should I go to, should I take a vacation from work? These are all important questions.
The timing of the hair transplant is a crucial decision as well, and one of the top questions that patients have for surgeons. When it comes to hair transplant procedures timing is everything. The biggest decision for the patient in terms of timing is: what stage of hair loss should they be in when choosing to get a transplant.
Surgeons are often asked how young is too young, and how old is too old for a transplant. Technically, there is no real age factor, because hair fall can set in as early as the twenties and go on till a very advanced age. For younger patients, it is good to wait till they are at least about 25, so that the surgeon can determine the pattern of hair growth and design a hairline keeping in mind future hair growth. For patients younger than that it is difficult to determine the pattern of hair loss.
Although,patients have to be careful, in some young patients the receding airline is just a mature one. There is some amount of hair fall in men in their late-teens and twenties, which might not be severe enough to lead to baldness soon. In these cases let the surgeon decide whether the hair fall is actually caused by male pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia, which is a cause of permanent hair loss. For patients who are losing their hair because of other reasons, like nutritional deficiency or illness, a hair transplant might not be required.
Younger patients are also more likely to experience shock loss, or loss of healthy hair during the procedure due to the proximity to the transplant area.
The best way to determine the timing of a hair transplant depends is to study how a patient’s hair fall/thinning has progressed. In cases of rapid hair fall, sometimes the surgeon can ask the patient to wait till it slows down a bit to determine the pattern and then recommend a transplant.
Doctors also use the Hamilton-Norwood scale to determine the stage of hair loss. The Hamilton-Norwood scale is a visual representation of the stages of hair loss, and can help determine the progression in cases of patients who are suffering pattern baldness
The availability of grafts on the back and sides of the head is also important. It might be lesser in older patients or those whose hair loss has progressed too far. For patients with scanty donor grafts, either grafts can be harvested form their body, from areas like arms, legs, back etc and used as implants for the bald areas on the scalp.
Therefore, it is safe to say that if a patient is experiencing unusually hair fall and bald spots, and has a family history of baldness is a good candidate. They can be from anywhere between their twenties to their seventies. The important thing to consult a good surgeon and only then make a decision.
The other factor as far as timing is concerned is the time taken for recovery. The recovery from both the Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) procedures is quite fast. But these will vary depending on the patient’s age and other factors. Some people also have a natural ability to recover quicker than others. A good idea is to keep a few days aside to rest after the surgery.
Patients will have some swelling on the scalp and face, which subsides on its own in a few days. Secondly they might also feel some stretchiness in the donor and recipient areas of the scalp. So it is best to take some time off work to recover.
Modern hair transplants are meant to help people suffering hair loss and a loss of self-esteem and confidence, and to cure that, the timing is always right. The only thing to remember is to consult a good surgeon first.