Bad news for the follicularly challenged: A new survey confirms that balding men are seen by others as older and less good-looking.
'Before and after' pictures
But when the same men got a hair transplant, observers thought of them as younger and more attractive, the study found.
The transplant recipients were also rated as more "successful, and approachable than their pre-transplant counterparts by casual observers," said a team led by Dr Lisa Ishii. She works in the division of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
One expert in male age-related hair loss wasn't surprised by the findings.
Read: Hair transplant surgery for male pattern baldness
"This study further validates what we have known for some time; we know that most men feel more attractive when they have more hair, and it seems the observers in this study tended to agree," said Dr Katy Burris. She is a dermatologist at Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York.
The study involved 122 adults, aged 18 to 52, who were asked to look at side-by-side pictures of 13 men. Seven of the men pictured had been experiencing age-related hair loss but then underwent hair transplant procedures. "Before and after" pictures were presented to each viewer.
The other six men had not undergone hair transplant and were used for comparison purposes.
Viewers were asked to rate the men based on presumed age, attractiveness, level of success and approachability.
In every field, men who'd undergone hair restoration scored significantly higher compared to their pre-transplant selves, Ishii's team reported in the online edition of JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.
Read: Going bald? Follicular transfer may be your answer
Dr Jeffrey Epstein, a Miami specialist in hair restoration, wrote a journal commentary on the new study. He said that over his 23 years of performing hair transplants, he's seen how they "reverse baldness and improve the attractiveness of those with hair loss".
According to the study authors, more than 11,000 hair transplants were sought out by American men in 2014 alone, making it "among the most common cosmetic services" offered.
Transplants can go wrong
Dr David Cangello is a plastic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He believes that studies like these confirm social attitudes on hair loss, and "may very well lead to an increase in the numbers of this already popular procedure over time."
Read: Balding: True or false?
However, Epstein stressed that hair transplants can go wrong, as well.
"It is imperative that this work be done aesthetically, since there are few plastic surgery procedure results more obvious (and more ridiculed) than an unnatural-appearing hair transplant," he said.
Studies have shown that, often, hair loss can lower men's self-esteem and self-confidence. However, Epstein believes some men can overcome all that, and do just fine keeping their balding pate.
"As comedian Larry David . . . who happens to be bald, reflected: 'Anyone can be confident with a full head of hair. But a confident bald man – there's your diamond in the rough,'" Epstein concluded.
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