What causes Hairline Recession?
The hairline defines the upper border of the face and an aesthetically positioned hairline gives the impression of youthfulness, symmetry, and proportionality to the face.
Hairline recession is most typically (>95% of the time) caused by male pattern hair loss and starts in both corners of the hairline. Some variants of male pattern hair loss feature hairline recession across the entire length of the hairline (hair transplant surgeons term this “anterior recession”). Both patterns of hairline recession can disrupt the ideal proportions of your face.
If the corners of the hairline recede far enough, it can lead to you having an M-shaped hairline. If the entire hairline recedes equally, it will make it seem that you have a disproportionately high forehead.
In a minority of cases, hairline recession can be caused by either traction alopecia – a condition where someone ties their hair too tightly or wears tight cornrows for a prolonged period, or frontal fibrosing alopecia (although, this is becoming increasingly common) – which is a type of autoimmune hair loss that involves the eyebrows and temples as well, and is frequently associated with inappropriate sunscreen usage.
What treatments are available for a receding hairline?
Medications are usually prescribed in cases where hairline recession is discovered early, or when this type of male pattern hair loss occurs at a very young age. The purpose of these medications is to reduce the rate of hairline recession, or if possible, stop it from receding further completely. These medications do not reverse hairline recession – medical treatment alone will not advance the position of the hairline.
In the context of male pattern hair loss (AKA androgenic alopecia or androgenetic alopecia) and traction alopecia, a hair transplant procedure can be performed to achieve the desired hairline position.
In the case of frontal fibrosing alopecia in males, the main aim will be to stop further hairline recession as hair transplant procedures for this condition usually results in poor outcomes.
How does a hair transplant for male hairline recession work?
Firstly, the hair transplant surgeon will determine if you are suitable for the procedure, considering factors such as age, family history, scalp condition and donor hair availability. Your donor hairs are situated in a horseshoe-shaped area at the back of your scalp and are typically resistant to the effects of male pattern hair loss. The hair follicles in Unger’s Safe Donor Area are known to have lower sensitivity to the hormone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which causes hair follicles to under-damage and shrink.
Hence, harvesting hair follicles from this area, and re-implanting them into the desired hairline design usually results in a permanent correction of the hairline.
What are some considerations before deciding to proceed with a male hairline transplant procedure?
- Is the hairline that was discussed during the consultation designed by a trained and certified hair transplant surgeon?
There are black market clinics worldwide where technicians or nurses “design” a hairline without a thorough understanding of the science and clinical reasoning behind hair transplantation.
- Is the hairline design what you wanted? It is, after all, a permanent procedure
Different shapes of hairlines suit different facial shapes, skull contours and ageing-related facial changes. Your hair transplant surgeon should have discussed this with you during the consultation.
- Are you comfortable with the hair transplant surgeon and his team?
A hair transplant procedure to correct male hairline recession is a team effort – usually, a team of technicians and nurses will also be involved in your procedure. Do feel free to ask if the team of technicians or nurses are trained or experienced.
- Who is performing the hair transplant procedure?
In Singapore, only a Singapore Medical Council (SMC) registered medical doctor with the appropriate training is allowed to perform hair transplant procedures. READ: Nurses, even SNB registered nurses, are not allowed to perform surgery on patients. Any incision of the skin must be done by an accredited doctor. Do feel free to ask if the clinic you visit follows this legal requirement.
- Are you willing to consider taking long-term medications, before or after the hair transplant procedure, to keep optimal results?
If it is appropriate to do so, the hair transplant surgeon will counsel you on the steps needed to maintain the native (non-transplanted parts) hairline, and these may involve taking long-term medications daily; either in an oral or topical formulation.
Bear this in mind: hair transplant procedures for male hairline recession DO NOT stop the further hairline recession, it corrects the position of the hairline permanently, but male pattern hair loss can continue to progress over time.
How do you locate a clinic that can perform a hair transplant to correct male hairline recession?
- Uses international resources first!
Search for physicians that are listed on theAmerican Board of Hair Restoration Society (ABHRS) (the only certifying body for hair restoration surgery) or the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) in your geographical area.
- Word of mouth
If you know someone that has gone through a hair transplant procedure with good results (though the same results can never be 100% guaranteed due to varying patient factors), ask them which clinic performed the procedure for them.
- Ask your doctor for a referral
Your GP or specialist may know someone who performs a lot of these procedures successfully and can provide a recommendation. At the very least, he/she will be able to gauge the clinics that you are considering and provide an objective assessment of experience and the certifications awarded to the hair transplant surgeon.