Should I Be Expecting Hair Loss at My Age?
Author: Movassaghi Plastic Surgery
We tend to associate losing our hair with getting older. And it is true, hair loss is much more common in individuals over 50. As much as 80% of men and 50% of women in this age group experience hair loss, according to the American Hair Loss Association. However, hair loss is not simply a matter of age, so if your hair is thinning and you’re wondering “should I be expecting hair loss at my age” despite your being “too young”– you are part of a bigger club than you realize.
Hereditary baldness can begin in your teens
The most common type of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, or hereditary male/female pattern baldness. This trait leaves hair follicles in certain areas of the head especially sensitive to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that causes follicles to shrink and eventually stop producing hair. DHT production is closely related to testosterone production, which is one reason why androgenetic alopecia is much more prevalent in men than in women.
About ⅔ of men with androgenetic alopecia start to notice their hair thinning by age 35, with the most dramatic hair loss occurring in those 50 and up. However, the onset of hereditary baldness can occur anytime after puberty. It is not uncommon for me to have men in their late teens and 20s concerned about a receding hairline come to see me at my Eugene plastic surgery practice about treatment options.
Females affected by pattern baldness typically start noticing hair loss between ages 40 and 60, or around the time of menopause, as estrogen production wanes and DHT has a greater impact. (Similar hormonal shifts can cause temporary hair loss after pregnancy; however, normal hair growth usually resumes as normal estrogen production resumes.)
Other causes for hair loss in younger patients
While the onset of hereditary hair loss is largely dictated by genetics, premature hair loss is sometimes caused by certain medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders or alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that can cause hair loss in children and teens.
Lifestyle factors such as diet, stress, drug and tobacco use, and grooming habits (i.e., pulling your hair into a tight bun day after day) can also result in excessive hair loss, so it is worth assessing your current habits and making improvements where needed.
Finding the right solution to treat hair loss
The first step is to talk to your primary care doctor to rule out any medical or nutritional causes for your hair loss. In these cases, a change in lifestyle or medical treatment can often reverse the condition.
If it’s determined that your hair loss is hereditary, then your hair will not grow back naturally. In this case, a hair transplant is one of the most effective, lasting solutions available to restore a fuller head of hair. During a transplant, healthy hair follicles are harvested from the back of your head, where follicles are not as susceptible to DHT, and relocated to thinning areas to restore healthy, natural-looking hair growth.
When is the right age to get a hair transplant?
Instead of asking “Should I be expecting hair loss at my age?” The better question to ask is “How should I be treating hair loss at my age?” The best candidates for hair transplants are men and women with moderate to advanced hair thinning or pattern baldness—the degree of hair loss is a more important factor than one’s chronological age.
Undergoing a hair transplant too early, while you still have a good deal of natural hair growth, can actually backfire, leading to a condition caused “shock loss” in which healthy hair in the areas surrounding the transplant falls out. While shock loss is usually temporary, it can be distressing for a patient to experience more hair loss as a result of a treatment intended to restore hair.
On the other hand, you only have so many hair follicles on the back of your head that can be used for a transplant and achieve an aesthetically pleasing outcome, so it’s best not to wait until hair loss has progressed too far before seeking treatment.
Maximize your chances for a successful hair restoration by working with a highly qualified, experienced hair loss doctor. The earlier you begin the process the better. Even if you are not yet ready to undergo a hair transplant, you may be a good candidate for topical or medical treatments to slow hair loss.
Disclaimer: The content within this site is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or specific medical advice. The products and claims made about specific products and treatments through this article have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration and are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. Please consult with a NeoGraft Certified Physician or other healthcare professionals regarding any medical or health-related diagnosis.
Dr. Kiya Movassaghi is a board-certified plastic surgeon who focuses on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery, medical grade skin care, and hair loss treatments for men and women. He is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and is past-president of the Northwest Society of Plastic Surgeons.
At Movassaghi Plastic Surgery & Ziba Medical Spa in Eugene, Oregon, Dr. Movassaghi and his team provide individualized, patient-centered treatment plans that incorporate the latest, proven aesthetic technologies and techniques. For more information, call 541-686-8700 or visit drmovassaghi.com.