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Hair Loss Experts Warns Against Transplants for Men in their 20s

by Alex Kilpatrick

Hair loss expert Dr. Abraham Armani warns that men in their 20s will regret undergoing a hair transplant.

“About 20 to 30 percent of my hair transplant surgeries are on people for corrective purposes or people having secondary or tertiary procedures,” Dr. Abraham Armani, a hair transplant surgeon and founder of Dallas’ Armani Medical, told FoxNews.com. “They have had procedures by other doctors and they come to us to improve or completely correct it.”

Armani told FoxNews.com that problems can arise when a hair transplant is done before a man has fully lost his hair, making it a risky procedure for younger men who continue to lose hair for many years.

During a hair transplant, a surgeon usually removes a strip of hair from the back of a man’s head and relocates it to the front of the head where balding typically occurs.

“Those follicles in those areas [in the back of the head] are permanent, they’re never going to shed off permanently so we take advantage of that,” Armani told FoxNews.com. “We can remove them and transplant them anywhere else on the scalp or on the body and it will be permanent.”

If a man has not lost all of his hair by the time they receive the transplant, problems can arise.

“Let’s say a 19-year-old comes to see me and I do a hair transplantation and lower his hairline by one inch, that hair will always be there,” Armani told FoxNews.com. “Let’s say five years later, he has rapidly lost the rest of the hair in the front and now he has this strip of hair that I transplanted that’s forever going to be there and behind that – that is empty space. That’s not a natural look or a good look.”

Forty-year-old Dallas resident Jeff had two hair transplants while he was in his 20s and experienced the risks of undergoing the procedure at a young age.

“I started losing my hair, I noticed at 18 or 19 years old and it was really a self-esteem issue and a confidence issue on my part,” Jeff told FoxNews.com. Jeff chose to withhold his last name for privacy.

At age 20, Jeff began looking into hair transplant procedures and eventually contacted a doctor who promised he could restore his receding hairline. Jeff agreed to the procedure in spite of a lack of research, but after removing his bandages post-transplant, Jeff realized his mistake.

“The analogy that I’ll use is that I looked like, if you can imagine…the hairline that was on a doll, where it looks pluggy or like a cornfield—that was my experience 20 years ago,” Jeff told FoxNews.com. “I was devastated.”

Jeff decided to try a second hair transplant at age 24 in an attempt to regain a more natural looking hairline but again left with dissatisfying results. He finally visited Armani last year to try to correct the patchy hairline.

“By the time he came to see me last year, he looked really unnatural and was very self-conscious,” Armani told FoxNews.com. “The pluggy appearance…only gets worse as you are losing more in the surrounding area, so all you are left with [are] islands of hair surrounded by bald areas and that’s what we are trying to fix with Jeff.”

Armani told FoxNews.com that a lot has changed in the field of hair transplantation since Jeff’s first surgery 20 years ago. Medications like Propecia and Rogaine, which can slow or halt balding, have become increasingly popular.

“We need to stabilize [a patient’s] hair loss first using medication and once his hair loss is stable and we know the pattern of balding, what we are looking at in the future, then three or four years later he can look at hair transplantation,” Armani told FoxNews.com.

Armani prescribed Propecia to Jeff in an attempt to prevent further balding and thicken Jeff’s remaining hair. To correct the existing patchiness, Armani performed a hair transplant using follicular unit extraction (FUE).

Due to Jeff’s two previous transplants, the skin on his scalp was too tight for a traditional hair transplant. However, Armani was able to transplant individual hair follicles using FUE and selectively fill in the bald spots between Jeff’s previous transplant lines.

“We went in and all the areas where he had thinned out, with areas of bare skin surrounding eyelets of hair or patches of hair, we gave him a more natural look,” Armani told FoxNews.com. “Though I told Jeff there was only so much we could do in one procedure. So we did one last year and I think he’s happy, but the goal is to have one last procedure to make him look better.”

Although Jeff plans to undergo one more procedure, he says he’s happier with his improved look.

“From a year and a half ago to today, it looks thicker,” Jeff told FoxNews.com. “You can’t see that I had transplants; before you [could] see right through my hair because it was thinning.”

Jeff told FoxNews.com that he hopes his story will serve as a warning to other men considering hair transplants at an early age.

“If you’re thinking about doing this at an early age, take it from someone who did it at 20 for all the reasons that could be tucked under the umbrella of low self-esteem, confidence issues and vanity – it will decrease your confidence even further,” Jeff told FoxNews.com.

Armani recommended to FoxNews.com that men considering hair transplants meet with an experienced physician specializing in hair loss issues.

“Hair loss is not just male pattern baldness,” Armani told FoxNews.com. “There are medications that can cause hair loss, medical problems like hormones that cause hair loss – and a salesperson is not going to be able to diagnose these problems. First, patients have to search for someone who specializes in hair loss and transplantation, who sits down, analyzes scalp, takes a medical history and then they can have informed options of what they need to do – whether medicine or waiting or hair transplantation.”

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