Jack was 16 when he first noticed that his hairline was receding, as he checked photos his surfing friends had posted on Instagram.
“I’d look at pictures of me when I was 14 or 15, see the hairline and then look at pictures from a year later and say, ‘Oh, that’s changed’,” says Jack, a bashful but athletic high-school student.
Last week Jack, still just 17, underwent hair-transplant surgery to move 3,000 hair follicles from the back of his head to the front to re-create the hairline.
His parents, worried about the impact on his self-confidence, paid dollars 22,000 (pounds 14,000) for the surgery.
Jack is one of thousands of American teenagers turning to surgery for a follicular fix.
“We live in a world where you are judged by the pictures that you take – particularly by the opposite sex,” he said.
“In our age group, most of what you do is going towards appealing to the opposite sex. We’re just fixing something that, by genetics, we just didn’t luck out (on).”
Dr Keith Durante, who is treating Jack, claims that a growing proportion of the 200 hair-transplant procedures he performs in a year in West Islip, New York, are for men in their early twenties or late teens.
Thanks to the barrage of high-resolution pictures on social media, young men are spotting their retreating hairlines and thinning crowns at a much younger age.
Many of the patients Durante treats are diagnosed with clinical depression and are beginning to isolate themselves socially as a result of paranoia about their baldness, he claims.
“You will spend more money on psychiatry bills and medications than you would if you just gave these kids some hair and let them enjoy it for 5 to 10 years,” Durante said. “If they need (the treatment) done again, we can do it.”
Hair-transplant surgeons have been reluctant to treat men until their balding has plateaued, fearing treated hair could end up as an island of fluff if the balding continues. Durante says he can offset the hair-loss process with a mix of treatments.
Nonetheless, some rival surgeons believe it is irresponsible to begin treatment at a young age.
“You’re not creating new hair – you are just moving hair,” said Dr Spencer Kobren, a hair-loss expert.
“You have a finite amount of hair you can utilise. Most experts in the field would say that not only is that medically inappropriate, but it’s unethical.”