Should I get a hair transplant?
April 20, 2006 9:44 PM   Subscribe

I'm 25 and going bald. Should I get a hair transplant?

I have been losing my hair ever since I was 17 years old. Now I'm in my mid-twenties and my hair is at what they call a NW5. Which means that I'm, well, bald.

I've been using a Rogaine/Propecia combination for the past two years which has worked wonders for stabilizing my hairline.

But still, I want more hair. Not for the usual reasons - I already have a healthy sex life and, physically, already look damn good otherwise.

I just want to feel what it's like to be in my twenties and have hair again.

Should I spring for it?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (59 answers total)
No. Go gracefully.
posted by aladfar at 9:50 PM on April 20, 2006

oh, fuck no
posted by pullayup at 9:59 PM on April 20, 2006

My brother in law got them at your age. They never looked right and seriously restrict the type of hairstyle he can wear. He looks much worse than the friends of ours who went bald gracefully.
posted by jrossi4r at 10:05 PM on April 20, 2006

Another vote no.
I would suggest shaving what you got.
It's really liberating in a lot of ways (Time saving, confidence building, empowering["Take that, treacherous hair!"], and some say it subconsciously reminds women of the male organ, and thus associate it with potency).
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:15 PM on April 20, 2006

painful, expensive, I've seen a lot of disasters. I wouldn't risk it.
posted by wilful at 10:18 PM on April 20, 2006

Shave your head. Keep your dignity and your honor.
posted by unixrat at 10:18 PM on April 20, 2006

You know, lots of people are going to say no, and hell, I probably wouldn't do it either, but see, most of us had hair in our 20s. Lots of us guys grow up knowing we'll lose it eventually, and seeing it go is a good reminder that, hey, nobody gets forever on this planet and you'd better make the most of the time you've got.

But you know what? If you think having hair is fun, and you're willing to give up all the other fun things you could spend the money on instead, and (this being the most important part) you know a pro who can really make you look good (instead of just making it obvious you're fighting the inevitable) -- go for it. Go gracefully later when most of us do, 30s or middle age.

Or, just accept the hair loss, make your new appearance part of your self-identity now, and put the money involved to other uses.

Just make sure you really, really do your homework on the "looks good" part. Meet some people who've had it done if you can, get some flattering and non-flattering pictures of clients from whoever you're checking out to do the job -- don't be at all shy about vetting them thoroughly. If you are going to do it, you have to make sure it gets done right. Because the only really negative outcome you could have from making either decision is if you decide to do it and it doesn't turn out well.

Either way, enjoy the hell out of your 20s.
posted by namespan at 10:26 PM on April 20, 2006

Alvy Ampersand and unixrat have the right of it. Shave your head or get a buzzcut, then take the money you'd have spent on the plugs and go on a nice vacation or something.
posted by MrBadExample at 10:35 PM on April 20, 2006

As a woman I say no. I prefer a shaved head on a man who is losing his hair, and quite frankly, think is it rather sexy if done confidently.
posted by oflinkey at 10:36 PM on April 20, 2006

Think about it. If you were a girl, which would you choose -- a guy that shaved his head like Sean Connery and Bruce Willis, or a guy that went and got a transplant?
posted by frogan at 10:41 PM on April 20, 2006

Get one of these:


posted by unixrat at 10:55 PM on April 20, 2006

Confidence in what you got is it. Learn to use what you got, since it really isn't a negative if your skull isn't so horribly misshapen as to scare people if you shave it. I really do think that if you're going to lose it, get it done quickly and learn to love it. I think that's preferable to constantly worrying about slow creeping hair loss for the next 20-40 years.

If your dome is a mess sans hair, there's always Bondo.

And no goatees. NEIN.
posted by kcm at 10:57 PM on April 20, 2006

Baldness is a sign of excessive testosterone. Use it.
posted by semmi at 11:27 PM on April 20, 2006

Shave or crop it. No transplant, ever. Please. Be confident in who you are. Bald men who have confidence are sexy.
posted by essexjan at 12:42 AM on April 21, 2006

Another vote for shaving. Female vote here, fwiw.

At the very least you should just try that before you make any decision. Shave it all off, give yourself a couple of months, and see how it goes. It will feel weird at first but you'll get used to it. And think about the freedom of not having to worry about hair anymore. And the money you'd save for a transplant, spend it on new nice clothes and a holiday or any kind of treat to make you feel good about your new cool shaved head.

You can always change your mind later and start thinking about a transplant again, but I'm betting you won't.

Here, have a look: photo tribute to bald men.
posted by funambulist at 1:01 AM on April 21, 2006

I had the same problem and for far too long I tried to make do with what I had. Then last year I just decided to shave it.

Best decision I ever made. My confidence and self-esteem soared immediately and I've never looked back. My girlfriend loves it, I feel happier and I wouldn't want hair now.

Another interesting thing happened - the bald jokes just stopped so if you shave your head now then they'll never start!

It also saves time and money because I never have to worry about haircuts or shampoo..
posted by Nugget at 1:48 AM on April 21, 2006

look, transplants never look good (ie they never look natural). never. even the most horribly expensive ones that look good on TV, they end up looking fake in real life
posted by matteo at 2:57 AM on April 21, 2006

Another vote for shaving it off/trimming it right down. If, as you say, you look physically damn good this'll just add to the sex appeal. I know several women who go completely wobbly at the knees for shaved heads...
posted by slimepuppy at 2:58 AM on April 21, 2006

If the choice were between a full, healthy head of hair and baldness, you'd choose the hair. Obviously. In spite of all the women who think bald guys are hot. But that's not a choice you get to to make, unfortunately. I don't think there's a woman on this planet who thinks hair transplants are hot. I vote (we do get to vote, right?) NO on a hair transplant.
posted by zanni at 3:09 AM on April 21, 2006

I've seen hair plugs. They don't fool anyone. Maybe they're only the bad ones, but how can you be sure yours won't turn out to suck?

This has become a bit of an echo chamber, but I think you're better off just going with it. Whether that means razing it or just cropping it back I don't know. You should just do whatever you're comfortable with.

I started really balding at the beginning of my twenties. As my uncles had always taken the graceful route, it was entirely natural for me to do the same. I started with clippers, and later progressed to a blade. It's fine, feels clean and tidy, easy to maintain. But don't do it if it's not what you're comfortable with.
posted by The Monkey at 4:15 AM on April 21, 2006

I do know what it's like to be bald in your twenties. Don't do it. It never looks right and there's something pathetic about pretending you're not bald. Just hold your bald head high, man.
posted by willpie at 4:17 AM on April 21, 2006

I think people going bald usually look much more staid and respectable. Which is a good thing.
posted by bloo at 4:21 AM on April 21, 2006

Baldness is not a sign of excessive testosterone. It is a sign of excessive dihydrotestosterone.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:06 AM on April 21, 2006

Go Bald. And if the hair is going in patches or very thin, shave it. I was in the same spot in my early 20's and now in my mid 40's friends tell me, "wow, you haven't aged a bit!"
posted by cptnrandy at 5:26 AM on April 21, 2006

Rock it. Confidence in your looks is way sexier than hair transplants (as others have said, even the best looks kinda funny). Also, I don't know if this would apply to you, but I can't stand it when younger men who are going bald hide under baseball hats all the time. It makes them look like overgrown frat boys afraid of growing into men :) If you live in a cold climate, there are some very stylish wintertime hats however.
posted by saffron at 5:52 AM on April 21, 2006

One more vote for "just shave it, man". I'm in the exact same place as you, 28 now, but shaved my head at about 23 or 24 when I reached the "looking way too much like a combover" stage. Every single woman I've ever asked, says they love a balding guy who has the sense to shave it. Girls love to rub that fuzzy noggin. :)
posted by antifuse at 6:06 AM on April 21, 2006

good god no. get a short haircut.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:06 AM on April 21, 2006

Plugs never ever ever look good (I am a tall woman, I look down/straight into a lot of hairlines) and give you a greasy, lounge-lizardy patina. Rock the shave - I like the two-day-stubble look myself, but some folks prefer the shiny head.

Spend a little money on a ridiculous wig and be a headbanger/hippe for a weekend, if you can pull it off, for the hair experience if you want, but do not scar up your head with butthair divots.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:07 AM on April 21, 2006

i'm bald. starting balding mad young. now i'm 30 and basically completely bald. I was balding in college. I use clippers and get it short I don't completely shave it as I'm not sure I can do that.
So i can relate. I generally agree with the sentiment here--you're losing the war anyway, best to go gracefully. On the other hand, why not not talk to a "doctor" that does this thing and some of her patients, just to see what they say and how they look.
posted by alkupe at 6:16 AM on April 21, 2006

Shave it, or at least cut it short. I bought a set of clippers and go after my husband's head every couple of weeks with the 1/2 inch blade and it looks really nice. If you get adjustable clippers, you can go kind of gradually. (My husband's 26.)
posted by sugarfish at 6:43 AM on April 21, 2006


But you might consider a wig. /half kidding
posted by Dick Paris at 6:49 AM on April 21, 2006

And that you posted this as "anonymous" speaks volumes.
posted by Dick Paris at 6:50 AM on April 21, 2006

To add to the torrent of "cut 'er down": I started balding in my late teens as well, and by the age of 25 I was trimming my hair closely. I started with the 1/2" attachment and cutting my hair every few weeks; over the 10 years that I've been doing it I've switched to no guide on the trimmer and a weekly buzz. I've avoided blade-shaving (aside from a couple of experiments) just because of the extra work.

My father had a combover for my entire life. It wasn't until I started clipping my hair that he saw the sense in it, and he's been extremely happy with the results.
posted by flipper at 6:53 AM on April 21, 2006

I worked with an engineer who had hair transplants done (what he referred to as "Barbie Hair"). He described the process in excruciating detail, which included removing a strip of skin in the balding area and stitching the sides together, which was repeated a few times. This stretched the remaining hair out across a larger area. He described the aftermath as pretty awful. When he smiled, it stretched the wound, which made him cry out, which stretch the wound, which made him cry out... Yeah, you got it. Then he had the transplants done. The whole process was very methodical and approached the problem on 3 vectors (iirc).

I saw a picture of him when he was in his early 20's and he looked like he was 50. You could tell that he had transplants, but he leans towards a hairstyle that doesn't call attention to it. He's been happy with them and that's what's important.

I agree with the "try out the shaved look". That's a small investment.
posted by plinth at 6:59 AM on April 21, 2006

If you're not sure, try the shaving first. If you find out that you hate it and wish you had gotten a transplant, you still can. On the other hand, if you get a transplant, and later decide the transplant was a bad idea and want to shave your head, you'll have a very obvious transplant scar across the back where they removed the donor hair.
posted by the jam at 7:03 AM on April 21, 2006

I have some friends (three brothers) who are balding at a young age, and I think they are beautiful men. I don't get to see them often, and have never been comfortable enough when I do see them to tell them how great they are. And really, I'm not sure it's something they want to hear. I say, leave the hair alone, or shave it. no combover and no plugs.
posted by bilabial at 7:03 AM on April 21, 2006

I'm only in my mid-20's, and I am starting to lose my hair now. At first, I was freaked out by it, and considered the drugs and what-not. Then, I started looking at other guys' hair on the train ride to work. Frankly, the guys who crop/shave it just look better than the guys who are hanging on to it (plugs/rugs/combovers). And everybody can tell.

Now, I have embraced the idea of eventual baldness. Skip the plugs, save the money, put some into buying a few nice looking hats and caps for the winter, and the rest into a warm vacation (with one of those chicks that loves bald guys).
posted by MrZero at 7:04 AM on April 21, 2006

I know a guy who was convinced he wasn't getting any good acting gigs because of his hair loss. He got the plugs, but we've never actually seen how it turned out because now he's never without a hat. (And there are probably fewer roles for "always wearing a hat guy.")

Look at it this way--guys with toupees, comb-overs and hair plugs are often the butt of jokes, but you don't see the same thing happening to the guys who shave it all off.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:04 AM on April 21, 2006

I just want to feel what it's like to be in my twenties and have hair again.

Reality check: you're actually going to end up feeling what it's like to be in your twenties and have hair plugs.

If you want to play with having a hairstyle again, you might as well go for a high-end tupee. It's less obvious/creepy, no pain involved.
posted by availablelight at 7:05 AM on April 21, 2006

Hydrophonic makes a great point.

Anyhow, I'm there myself and a shaver. I guess I miss the option of having hairstyles, but I don't miss haircuts and I like waking up ready to roll.
posted by codswallop at 7:23 AM on April 21, 2006

And, if you're going to do it despite what everyone says, you MUST do some serious research into reputable doctors for this work. Many of us have seen folks walking around with heads that are seriously fucked up from bad transplants.

I used to listen to this radio show late at night called the Bald Truth...This was a topic discussed frequently and I believe their website has both recommended doctors and the ones who have ruined people's lives. They also discuss things like new drugs. It was really a very good show.

Finally, I am 33 and started balding around 27. I was upset about it at first (even though I had always known I wound bald though the magic of genetics).

I don't shave it, but I buzz it, and to be honest it didn't really appeal to me as a solution, until I met a guy who rocked it quite inspriationally. Like someone said above, it's a confidence thing. When I saw how this other guy was rocking his bald buzzed head like he owned the world, I suddenly got over it and said, hey I can do the same thing. And now I am.
posted by poppo at 7:46 AM on April 21, 2006

Every time this comes up, there's the previously mentioned chorus of "shave it off". But what about those of us who wouldn't look good with a shaved head? Lose-lose situation, there. Look silly with a combover or look silly shaved.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 7:51 AM on April 21, 2006

Buzz it.
posted by vanoakenfold at 8:01 AM on April 21, 2006

There's a recent great LA Times article....

(registration required)

They mention a number of things that are relevant. The biggest is that we're probably close to having economic and effective treatments other than surgery and Rogaine. Be patient, and if something is available in the next 10 years, you can regain your youthful looks and will appreciate it more then!

In the meantime, hair isn't the only indicator that you are aging. Better get used to the fact that you are changing, and the only thing you have actual control over is your character. Make it beautiful. Looks are vastly over-rated when it comes to happiness.

(I have your hair loss pattern, too, but I love me just fine, thanks! It's actually one of my standard schtiks... the balding engineer. It CAN be made an asset!)
posted by FauxScot at 8:06 AM on April 21, 2006

For some reason, my link did not appear in the prior post:,1,1639656.story?coll=la-headlines-health
posted by FauxScot at 8:07 AM on April 21, 2006

Haven't you ever heard of graft versus host? Good lord man, no!

Anyway, when I go bald (I can hear my hair counting down right now), I'm gonna go with a turban/beard/glasses combination. Try that.
posted by jon_kill at 8:13 AM on April 21, 2006

23 y.o. female here. I'm with those who say going gracefully and shaving it with clippers is the best & most attractive option.

A shaved head is sexy), and I want to touch it (a lot, if there's a bit of stubble there). I've met guys my age that are going bald, and if they keep it short, or shaved that's cool and I don't really notice. But if I can tell you have hair plugs? Ick. The impression it leaves with me is that you're a lot older than me and trying to pass and that feels kind of creepy. Maybe that's unfair, but it's the immediate reaction I have. It may be possible that I've met guys who had hair transplants and I didn't notice, but I'd be very surprised.

I think the idea to try shaving first and then re-evaluate is a good one. If you still want a transplant, do the research. Look for examples of what didn't turn out as well, too so you know what the 'worst case' scenario is. Take a close friend or family memeber with you to consultations. A friend that can be (burtally) honest with you. Have them look at the before and after pics and tell you - really - if they look better.

I know it's difficult to have your body change in ways that you don't like. I hope that you can find a solution that makes you look and feel great. Confidence makes a huge huge difference to attractiveness. So if you can't find a way to be comfortable with the hair you've got, go ahead and invest in surgical help from a good doctor. The spring it puts in your step might be worth it. Good luck.
posted by raedyn at 8:21 AM on April 21, 2006

You seem kind of young, check the family history to see if it runs in the family. If it doesn't then you may want to get a check up to see if there is something wrong. I started to get a receding hairline after around 35. The hairstyle that I used to have didn't look cool with the receding so now I just keep it clipped short. Shaving it completely seems like too much work. You may want to look into wigs. At least you can change the style, color, length at will depending on the situation.
posted by JJ86 at 8:23 AM on April 21, 2006

Yet another female vote for cropping it. I knew guys in college and grad school who were losing their hair, and to a man the ones who worked with it rather than against it were the ones who looked the best. The fact is, you're in your 20s no matter what the state of your hair is. It's not dependent on your hair (or lack thereof) whether or not you enjoy your 20s; it's dependent on whether you choose to enjoy this time or not.

As for transplants, not only do they look artificial (and thus unattractive) to me, they always come off to me as kind of sad -- like a walking advertisement of insecurity. You don't need to be that guy.
posted by scody at 8:45 AM on April 21, 2006

Another vote for shaving it if your head is well-shaped. I was going bald from about age 16, and the day before my 23rd birthday, I decided to shave it. I would highly recommend cutting it short with clippers first and looking at the shape of your scalp. If it's fine (most are; mine was), shave it, and you'll never look back.

Women generally love it, and it's pretty easy. I usually keep mine fuzzy (clippers with no comb), and it looks better than it ever did before. Hairplugs reek of desperation, while rocking the bald head indicates you're comfortable with who you are. Most people will think it looks better.
posted by JMOZ at 8:50 AM on April 21, 2006

Another no vote here.

I suggest that you buzz or shave it for a month before making any decisions (I use an electric razor). Oh, and after each buzz or shave get down on your knees and give thanks that this is the only problem you have with your body/health.
posted by larry_darrell at 8:50 AM on April 21, 2006

Hi. Just to reinforce the don't get plugs narrative, I'd like to relate to you a story I remeber hearing from some random stand-up comedian in the early '90s. After having opted for plugs, his hair line continued to recede to the back of his head, leaving the line of plugs along the front, like a picket fence.
posted by Sara Anne at 8:53 AM on April 21, 2006

The 2006-01-09 issue of The New Yorker has a great article about hair transplant, "The Power of Hair" by Burkhard Bilger. Too bad it's not on their web site, but I'm sure you can find a copy at your local library.
posted by of strange foe at 8:57 AM on April 21, 2006

Yet another vote for a shave or buzz. I've had friends and dates who were going bald early and took that route. Looked great. You're an attractive guy? You'll look hot. Really.
posted by moira at 9:08 AM on April 21, 2006

A bald friend of mine observes "Now and again, God makes a few perfect heads. On the rest, he puts hair."
posted by paulsc at 9:10 AM on April 21, 2006

Clearly I'm preaching to the choir here, but buzz it or shave it. I started going bald in high school (heredity), accelerated by chicken pox at 18. I was graced with the good sense to avoid the combover madness, but did not -- to my eternal shame -- avoid the ponytail. Hey, (a) the ex-wife thought it was hot, and (b) it was the 90s.

About four years ago I shaved my head, and have shaved it every day since. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. And hell, if you don't like it, you still have other options.
posted by mkhall at 12:53 PM on April 21, 2006

I first noticed that I was balding at 19. It took a few years for it to really go, but I cut it short immediately. After a couple of years, I began shaving with a razor instead of clipping. Now I just shave my head every time I shave my face, and it's not a big deal.

At first, I was really bummed about losing my hair. In fact, I even had dreams occasionally about having long hair, and having to flip my bangs out of my face, with wistful feelings upon waking up.

But being bald is a style that's prett easy to rock. Just don't try to hide it, because it's obvious to everybody, and it says (in my opinion) unflattering things to people about your character.
posted by dammitjim at 1:06 PM on April 21, 2006

if you do shave it off, remember to take care of your scalp - sunscreen in summer, moisturize the rest of the time, etc. A friend of mine shaved his head for a cancer fundraiser and then got sunburned shortly thereafter.
posted by heeeraldo at 5:57 PM on April 21, 2006

I've been thinking about this a little more. One more reason not to do this is that while it may impress people you haven't met yet (ie the ladies), as evidenced by the near unanimous response here (and, as previously noted, the fact you posted anonymously), everyone you already know will disapprove of this and possibly even think less of you. People just don't approve of this kind of cosmetic surgery, especially young people. Since, for me, the people I already know are more important than most of the people I will meet, this was never an option for me. It just seems like such a lame thing to do.
If I could have done and magically made it as though "i had never gone bald". ie change the past, who knows.
posted by alkupe at 6:59 AM on April 23, 2006

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