Over the years I have encountered some or all of the following circumstances and reactions in men who began losing hair at a young age, some were only 23 and balding.
Your hair loss began with receding temples, and you first noticed it at 18. It seemed to happen so suddenly. One day you looked in the mirror and realized you were 23 and balding.
You feel like you are being robbed of your youth. What should be the best-looking years of your physical prime seem to have vanished almost overnight. The carefree days of your youth seem to slip away with every departing follicle. You begin to feel like someone just gave your life an expiration date.
Denial helps you cope. You still have enough hair so that if you comb it just so the temples are covered. You find yourself avoiding windy places so the hair stays in place. Bright lights become an enemy. You avoid pools and the ocean like the plague.
You never bring up the subject with friends or family, even though you’ve surfed enough websites to know that your cousin is at least a NW2 and both your uncles are NW5 in their mid forties.
Comb-overs are replaced by baseball caps as the receding hairline progresses. Your hat collection increases in direct proportion to your decreasing hair. The wispy baby hairs in temples only seem to make matters worse. Should you treasure them or shave them? Mirrors deliver a sinking feeling.
Your self-confidence takes a huge hit. Balding affect your looks, and not for the better, and you are living proof. Jason Statham notwithstanding, all the money, strength and fame in the world cannot alter this undeniable fact. Your hair loss starts to impact your success with women (or men). You walk into a party and the girl of your dreams shoots a glance then looks the other way…is she not digging you because you are balding, or because now you’ve lost your self-confidence? You try to console yourself that she’s not your future wife anyway if she is that shallow. But somehow you are not consoled.
By your mid 20s the crown has appeared. Now it’s undeniable: you’ll be “that bald guy” in short order. You decide to shave your head, but do it as part of a 5k run to benefit a worthy cause, so if your buddies make fun of you the alibi is in place.
Being 23 and balding can have profound psychological impacts. You may feel like you are living a lie because you feel so compelled to hide your balding. Envy is your daily companion as you jealously note men with a full head of hair. You dread running into classmates from high school because they seem shocked at how you’ve aged. You use a Facebook photo from 4 years ago and feel like a fraud for doing so. You are obsessed with people’s hairlines, furtively gathering data from scores of heads a day. You still harbor a smoldering rage at that guy in the locker room who ridiculed your bald spot. You lurk for untold hours on hair restoration websites. You feel like your baldness is your new identity, your most defining feature, and it’s flat-out depressing.
You are not alone. There are legions of men in the early 20s who share your silent struggle. I won’t offer platitudes but I will offer this: you can get out the clippers, buzz off what’s left, and never look back. Or you can try to save the hair you have and consider a hair transplant down the road. Millions of men are choosing these options. Download the ARTAS app and send me your pictures. I will provide a consultation and provide a viable roadmap for the future.
Dr. James A. Harris is an internationally renowned hair transplant surgeon, inventor of patented follicular unit excision technology, published author in the field of hair restoration and an advocate for patient care. Learn more about Dr. Harris or read rave reviews from his patients.