Every man experiencing hair loss wants to restore his hairline to its youthful fullness. However, turning back the clock through hair transplant surgery involves much more than replacing what’s been receding. Designing a hairline with the look of natural growth isn’t as easy as you may think. It requires a hair restoration surgeon with the experience, technical skill, artistry – and the ability to visualize how your hair loss will progress over time – to achieve a hairline that appears as natural 20 years from now as it does today.
Dr. Marco Barusco – Founder and Chief Medical Officer at Tempus Hair Restoration – is dedicated to educating all who are considering hair transplant surgery about the fundamentals of the process – including how he approaches hairline design. This blog post is based on his video – “Principles of Male Hairline Design” – which is on his YouTube channel, Hair Loss Medical Advice.
Why is the Male Hairline So Important?
“Hairlines are extremely important,” says Dr. Barusco. “When you see yourself in the mirror and your hairline is receding, you look a little older, and it’s bothering you. But imagine if you go in for a transplant and the hairline isn’t done correctly. It’s very hard to conceal. If you have liposuction and it doesn’t turn out great, you can at least hide it under clothes. You don’t have that option with a bad hairline.”
For this reason, understanding the aesthetics of a natural male hairline is essential in understanding why a good hair restoration surgeon will plan your hairline in a certain way. The male hairline is characterized by a lower overall position on the forehead, an “M” shape, and a forward flow pattern of the frontal hairs. This differs from the female hairline, which sits higher on the forehead, has an inverted “U” shape, and frontal hairs in a backward-facing whorl flow pattern.
In the case of teenagers and young men, the hairline is in a more forward position and has slightly rounded edges. This “juvenile” hairline gradually becomes a mature hairline – which many men initially mistake for hair loss. This is a natural process – mainly among Caucasian males – and does not necessarily indicate the beginning of androgenic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness.
However, men who are experiencing genetic hair loss may want to recreate their youthful hairline through a hair transplant procedure. Dr. Barusco educates his potential patients who express this goal as to why this will not create a good result over the long term.
“If you’re in your 30s or 40s right now, the hairline that appeals to you may be a little too aggressive. It may look good for maybe the next 10 years or so, but when you’re getting into your 50s and beyond, that hairline may look pretty weird. Because when we age, our hair ages, and if the hairline is too aggressive, it will not age with you – meaning it won’t change. Our hairline aging process normally involves a little bit of recession, a little bit of moving back on the forehead. Once you do a transplant, that will no longer happen – so you have to make sure that what you do today is going to look natural when you’re older. Otherwise, who wants that?”
The Art of Designing the Ideal Male Hairline
In your mind’s eye, you may have an idea of where your restored hairline should be. But a hair transplant surgeon’s technical skill should be informed by a strong aesthetic sensibility. Dr. Barusco follows the classic “rule of thirds” as put forth by Leonardo da Vinci in determining each patient’s ideal hairline position.
“When I look at a hairline, the first thing I look for is where I should put it in relation to the eyebrows, and how high or how low on the forehead. That’s what we call height – the main parameters as far as the position of the hairline that should be considered. When you look at Leonardo da Vinci’s works, you will see that he divided the face of the subject he was trying to sculpt or draw into thirds, so that the distance between the chin and the tip of the nose, the tip of the nose to the eyebrows and the eyebrows to the hairline were all in proportion. The tip of your nose should be about the same distance as your eyebrows to your hairline. If you do it on yourself, you’ll see that it’s pretty close. Some people have naturally low hairlines, and they are the exceptions. But most of us follow that proportion.”
According to the International Society of Hair Restoration (ISHRS), a good hair restoration surgeon will make recommendations based upon your individual situation.
“The surgical placement of a hairline by transplantation or other technique is an esthetic decision that you must make in consultation with your physician hair restoration specialist. The physician can be of great assistance in this decision because the physician’s perspective is professional and three-dimensional. The physician sees you, and assesses your hair restoration need, in global perspective. Your view is primarily what you see in the mirror. While you may wish to recreate the hairline you are accustomed to seeing in the mirror, the physician may have other recommendations based upon such considerations as the likelihood of need for future procedures as your hair loss continues. It may be necessary to consider the need for future revisions in the hairline to accommodate progressive hair loss.”
Dr. Barusco is a Fellow of the ISHRS. This is a distinction that is only given to those who achieve certain landmarks on teaching and leadership. Currently, fewer than 10% of the ISHRS members are Fellows.
In addition to properly positioning the hairline restoration to your facial features, implanting each follicular unit to create the look of natural growth is essential to preventing the result from looking like a hairpiece. Our blog post – “An Up-close Look at Hair Grafts” – describes hair grafts (also known as follicular units) in detail.
“There are no straight lines on the human body. You don’t want to put anything in a straight line because it doesn’t look natural. It will catch peoples’ eyes for the wrong reason. You want to create variability.”
Throughout the process, Dr. Barusco implants hair grafts to build macro and micro irregularities into the hairline. Each follicular unit graft can contain one to three (or even four) hair follicles, which Dr. Barusco varies to further create a natural appearance.
Dr. Barusco also takes great care in creating a frontal temporal transition to achieve this visual variability. “If I just design a hairline and go straight into the hair without creating that soft transition to the temples, it’s going to look artificial. The effect will be so obvious that people will either know you’ve had a transplant, or think you’re wearing a hairpiece. Neither is a desirable outcome.”
The Importance of Having Realistic Expectations for Your New Hairline – and What You Should Look Out For
Dr. Barusco reports patients of other hair transplant surgeons coming to him seeking help for a botched hairline. Such results as a blunt hairline angle, a perfectly straight hairline and a heart-shaped hairline are among the examples of poor hairline design that he has remedied through corrective surgery. Photographs of each patient (with their identity concealed) can be seen on Dr. Barusco’s video referenced earlier in this blog post.
As we always emphasize, knowledge is power. Knowing the principles of good male hairline design will help you have an informed consultation with a hair restoration surgeon – as well as recognize red flags that may be raised. For example, be wary of a surgeon who recommends an aggressively low hairline, as it will not age well over the years. Also, as Dr. Barusco observes, the customer – or the patient – isn’t always right. If such a hairline is your idea, setting realistic expectations instead will make you happier in the long run than if the surgeon you choose agrees to do what you want rather than make their case as to why it’s ultimately not in your best interest.
“Some people may want some modification here and there when we discuss their hairline. As long as I think it’s safe and it’s going to look great, I may agree. But I will give you my advice if I don’t think you should have that done. I have had many patients walk out on me and say that if you can’t do that, I’ll find someone who will. I may not be able to change their mind, but I tell them to be careful, because it isn’t a matter of if it can be done, but if it should be done. My goal is for you to have a natural result so you don’t have to fix it later.”
As we also always emphasize, be sure to choose your surgeon wisely – based on experience, results and integrity. Dr. Barusco’s long list of accomplishments, his notable artistic ability and his successful surgical team make Tempus Hair Restoration a renowned practice. Contact us to schedule your free virtual consultation. Dr. Barusco conducts every consultation himself, giving you the opportunity to learn your options in the comfort of your home – or any location, on any internet-enabled device.
Dr. Barusco conducts consultations in English, Spanish and Portuguese. For your greater convenience, Tempus Hair Restoration offers a two-night complimentary hotel stay to out-of-town clients who travel 100 miles or more to our Port Orange, Florida, surgical center. No matter how far the distance, we welcome the opportunity to help you on your hair restoration journey!