Hair Loss and the Appearance of Aging

Age-Appropriate Appearance

One of the most common reasons for men and women to consider hair transplantation is to overcome what they perceive to be an age-inappropriate appearance. They don't want to appear older than their calendar age or appear older than they wish to appear.

The reasons to avoid age-inappropriate appearance can be personal, work-related, or a combination of both. In both personal and work environments, age-inappropriate appearance can substantially influence one's self-regard, and one's interpersonal and work-related relationships. Age is objectively measured in years, but the appearance of age is assessed subjectively. It is often the subjective assessment by others that counts the most in one's personal and professional life.

Most people who are encountered in the workplace or in social environments probably do not know your calendar age unless you revealed it to them, but they quickly make judgments regarding your appearance of age. Along with their assessment of your apparent age as seen through their eyes, they may make some judgments regarding what may be called age-related values:

  • A person who appears to be uncaring in their presentation of self to the world is seen as lacking vigor and self-regard.
  • In contradistinction a person who presents an aura of "youthfulness" or "agelessness", even if obviously advanced in years, is likely to be viewed in positive terms.

While there is often negative criticism of apparently undue emphasis on youthfulness, the positive flip side of being "youth oriented" is a perception of commitment to health and psychological as well as physical well-being. Commitment to these positive values is seen as personal and individual, and judged as a "positive" in interpersonal relations.

Whether or not you subscribe to such values, you may be assessed in terms of those values in business and social interactions.

The Interpersonal Effects of Hair Loss

Hair loss can have a potent negative effect in overall assessment of age and age-related values. Hair loss in a younger person can contribute to an appearance of premature aging. Hair loss at any age can detract from overall appearance.

In some circumstances, hair loss may be the dominant factor in how a person is assessed. Overall appearance figures prominently in the way potential clients and customers, and employers, view persons to whom they must give their trust. An initial interview can be skewed if the attention of the client, customer or employer is focused on an apparent defect in the person's appearance. The perception of hair loss as a cosmetic "defect" influences the way in which both men and women may be assessed, but it is often a detriment to women more than to men. The bald man may benefit from the "Mr. Big" image of the powerful bald-headed man. There is no such image from which women may benefit; thinning hair is an age-related cosmetic detriment for women, no matter at what age it occurs. (See About Your Hair Loss and Female Hair Loss).

Overcoming the Hair Loss Detriment

Correcting hair loss may not be merely a matter of halting loss of hair or replacing lost hair. Correction of a cosmetic detriment such as hair loss may not be well managed as a "do-it-yourself" undertaking such as a too-obvious comb-over. Well-planned and long-term management of hair loss requires professional attention such as that offered by a physician hair restoration specialist, a person trained specifically in the diagnosis and management of hair loss by medical and/or surgical means (See Surgical Hair Restoration).

Hair restoration is not accomplished by a "one pattern fits all" approach. Every patient requires an individual approach to correction of hair loss. Factors requiring individual consideration include:

  • Patient's age-e.g., will a younger person's hair loss likely progress for decades, and thus require age-appropriate management at all stages?
  • Patient's gender-e.g., the approach to correction of hair loss is often quite different in men and women.
  • Cause of hair loss-e.g., while hereditary male-pattern of female-pattern hair loss is the most common cause of thinning hair, other causes must be considered and no correction undertaken until the cause is correctly diagnosed.
  • Pattern of hair loss-e.g., the emphasis on hair restoration should be on restoring the appearance of natural growth and an esthetic effect appropriate to the patient.
  • Degree of hair loss-e.g., planning of hair restoration must be based on the achievement of an outcome that is rational in terms of overall hair loss, and acceptable to the patient.
  • Cosmetic relationships of the patient's hairline to other cosmetic features including forehead, eyebrows, ears and nose-e.g., overall esthetic effect must be appropriate for the patient.

The physician hair restoration specialist also has the training and experience to assess other cosmetic aspects that may contribute to an appearance of aging-for example, deep brow "frown lines" and wrinkled facial skin-and to make recommendations for their correction if the patient wishes to explore such options.

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