Since Wayne Rooney had his first hair transplant in 2011, young men all over England have been flocking to clinics, confident that there is no longer any need to be embarrassed about undergoing such a procedure.
But is there any benefit to having a hair transplant in your twenties, as opposed to your forties? Quite the opposite, says one leading hair transplant surgeon.
Wait and watch
Dr Bessam Farjo told the BBC’s Newsbeat that it is important to assess how quickly and in what pattern men are losing their hair, before resorting to surgery.
He said, “If you have the surgery too early and you go bald, you don’t have enough hair to keep chasing the hair loss.
“You can end up with isolated patches of hair. You could end up with hairy temples and a bald forehead which isn’t pretty but is also hard to fix.”
Dr Farjo says he offers patients medication to see what effect it has on their hair loss, and then monitors them over a period of time before offering hair transplant surgery.
Why wait for a hair transplant?
Although a hair transplant is a permanent procedure, it will not prevent further hair loss from occurring in other areas, as explained by Dr Farjo above. Hair loss is thought to occur when a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) shrinks hair follicles, preventing new hairs from growing.
DHT is least prevalent in the hair follicles around the sides and back of the scalp, which is why these are the most common donor sites for a hair transplant. The hormone is more likely to affect follicles at the front and top of the head, which are the most common thinning areas.
A hair transplant, whilst very effective in replacing hair that has already been lost, does not affect the production of DHT, so a man who has had a hair transplant to his hairline in his twenties may well find that by his thirties he has bald patches behind the transplant area.
What are the alternatives to hair transplant surgery?
Scalp micropigmentation (SMP) can be a great alternative to a hair transplant for men in their twenties and thirties. The procedure uses pigment to create the illusion of tiny hairs, and can be used either to mask bald patches or areas of thinning hair, or on the whole scalp, to give the appearance of a full head of hair that has been shaved close to the scalp.