Psychology of Hair Restoration Patients
M. Bernstein, MD & William
Men under the age of 25 with hair
loss are having hair restoration procedures more frequently
today. These young men are confronted by both their
entry into manhood and the perception that their balding
is aging them at an accelerated rate. These patients
often feel deprived of an essential element of their
youth. This feeling is created and affirmed, seemingly
by everything our western culture promotes.
Hair is indicative of a healthy, youthful appearance.
Images on television and in the movies reinforce the
association between a youthful appearance and a full
head of hair. It is difficult for a young man who is
balding to sort out his identity when surrounded by
a world of hairy, virile, healthy, "normal"
appearing young men. For these young hair transplant
candidates, objectivity does not always prevail. Panic
sometimes generates the decision to get their hair back.
The premature loss of hair becomes equated, in their
minds, with the premature loss of their youth; therefore,
medical education, ethics, and honest rules of engagement
(informed consent) must be high on the physician's priorities
when discussing the hair restoration procedure with
this youthful subset of the balding population.
Men in their 30's and early 40's are more deliberate
about the decision to undergo hair transplant surgery.
Many have considered the procedure for some time, but
faced with the difficulty of getting accurate information
and finding a doctor they trust, they may wisely delay
the decision. Some outside factor may finally push them
to become serious in pursuing hair restoration surgery.
This factor may be a business decision, (a younger looking
person may have more earning potential), a divorce,
or the availability of financial resources. Alternatively,
it may reflect the self-indulgence of a confident, successful
person doing something for himself.
Having hair restoration surgery is moderately expensive.
The cost depends upon several factors: the amount of
work that must be done based upon the level of hair
loss, the expectations of the patient, the proposed
method, and who will perform the work. It may cost more
than a mid-size car, a cruise, or a safari, so it deserves
serious consideration. A vacation or a safari lasts
but a few weeks; a mid-sized car will last a few years;
but a hair restoration will last a lot longer. The cost
of the restoration is a factor, but should not be the
Going to an expensive surgeon does not guarantee good
results. If the cost of the work exceeds the patient's
ability to pay for what he actually needs, the patient
may not be able to finish the work he started. A poorly
planned procedure, or failure to complete what was started,
can produce a medical oddity. A properly staged procedure
over long periods is as good a choice as a Fast Track¨
approach. The key to a successful hair restoration is
the creation of a customized plan that reflects the
goals of each patient. An attempt to cut costs can lead
to a lifetime of regret every time you look in the mirror.
One should ask: "How much hair will I actually
get for the dollars I am planning to spend?" As
men grow older, they become more discriminating. They
have life experience, and know what they want because
they have the maturity to make balanced, non-emotional
judgments. They are thoughtful about the decision process
and they usually take the time to research their choices
reasonably well. For those who can afford it, there
is no substitute for the best money can buy. Men under
30 may be more motivated by the emotional aspect of
looking older too soon. They are vulnerable to high-pressure
sales tactics by unscrupulous salesmen. Men over 30
often feel they have worked hard, achieved a great deal
and therefore decide to reward themselves. More often,
they may want to look as young as they feel, and having
hair is important to their sense of well being.