Inside Elon Musk’s Hair Transformation: How He Did It

  • Medically reviewed by: Debra Rose Wilson, PhD MSN RN IBCLC AHN-BC CHT
  • Written by: William Slator
  • Last updated: 09/01/2024

Elon Musk is a man of extraordinary accomplishments. He has been in the limelight for over two decades. During this time, he has undergone a normal physical transformation just like any other man.

From his latest photos, you might not know that Elon Must once sported a balding scalp.

This article will speculate on the potential treatments Elon used to change his hair.

Comparing the Past to the Present

A good way to capture Elon Musk’s remarkable transformation is to take you back to the mid-90s. That is when he first became famous for his business successes.

At the time, it was clear to anyone that he was fast losing hair at the front part of his head.

Perhaps the first picture, taken some time around the unveiling of PayPal, best illustrates the state of his hair back then. You can see his bare front scalp in the picture. At the time, he was in his late 20s.

Elon Musk and Peter Thiel launching PayPal. Musk has noticeable thinning and receding throughout the top of his head.

You will notice that his hairline had receded dramatically. Additionally, the remaining hair on the top had thinned considerably.

The nature of his hair loss confirmed that he was in advanced stages of male pattern baldness. He was around a Norwood 4. He was losing hair so fast, that without some sort of intervention, his baldness would have almost certainly deteriorated. By today, had he let his baldness run its normal course, we should expect him to be almost completely bald (Norwood 6).

You can see the progression of male pattern baldness in this image.

The natural progression of male pattern baldness.

Enter 2012 with Elon talking about having fun with his new car:

This video shows him with a partially restored hairline. The entire top of his head is also much fuller. We could class him as a Norwood 2 to 3 here.

Male pattern baldness does not do this spontaneously. It is a naturally progressive condition, which typically only gets worse with time. On its own, it never improves. Without intervention, the best-case scenario is that it stays the same.

What Kind of Hair Restoration Did Elon Musk Use?

That Elon Musk did something to his hair is not in doubt. The question is, what exactly did he do to bring about thick, healthy-looking hair after just a few years?

Like many business magnates in Silicon Valley, he must have had several options. After all, he is a man with deep pockets and international connections. It is important to note that the man himself has never publicly revealed the details of the hair restoration technique he used.

This brings us to the analysis of two of the most plausible techniques that he might have turned to.

Hair Loss Medication

Finasteride and minoxidil are two of the most recommended hair loss medications on the market.

Theoretically, Elon Musk may owe his remarkable hair restoration to such drugs. Yet this is highly unlikely. The reason is that these drugs primarily stop further hair loss. They don’t generally restore hair thickness to the degree of Musk. They also cannot dramatically restore the hairline we see with Musk.

In addition, Elon Musk would have to take the meds for an extended period.

Hair Transplant

This is by far the most plausible technique the tech guru must have used. Modern hair transplants are incredibly advanced and for the most part, look much better than old-fashioned hair plugs.

Real hair follicles (donor’s hair) are transferred from one section of the scalp to another with the help of very fine instruments. The transfer is from areas in the back and side of the head – which never go bald – to the front and top of the head. These non-balding areas are called donor areas.

An example of FUT hair transplant

You can get an idea of the typical hair transplant timeline in this article.

Was Elon Musk A Good Candidate for A Hair Transplant?

A good candidate for a hair transplant is someone with a sufficient supply of donor hair. It must be enough to cover the balding areas as well as any other areas that might lose hair in the future.

Individuals past the age of thirty-five are generally good candidates for hair transplants. By this age, their hair loss patterns are well-established compared to younger patients.

Due to his age, Elon Musk was not perhaps the ideal candidate. He was losing hair very fast and at a relatively young age. His hair loss had not yet stabilized.

So, It’s a Hair Transplant! FUT or FUE? Evidence of a Strip?

Elon Musk may be quiet about his hair, but all indications point towards a hair transplant. Qualified surgeons like Dr. Yates, based in Chicago, contend that Elon Musk most likely went under the scalpel.

Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) are the two methods used during hair transplants. They both work with the same principle: the surgeon removes healthy follicles from the donor areas and transplants them onto the balding parts.

One major difference is that FUT typically leaves a noticeable scar in the back of the head. In FUT, the surgeons remove a strip of hair from the back of the head. He then dissects it and implants it into the balding area. The strip is in the form of a relatively straight, horizontal line. For this reason, another name of FUT is “strip excision”.

A linear scar as a result of FUT

In FUE there is no strip removal. The surgeons harvest individual hair follicles, which he then transplants directly into the top of the head. This process does not leave any noticeable scars.

Showing how FUE works
FUE scars are too small to leave scars.

In the video below it does appear like there is a strip at the back of Musk’s head. This strongly suggests a transplant. Watch the video below to see the strip:

Because it leaves no scars,  FUE is generally considered the superior method. But at the time Musk presumably had his transplant, FUE was not yet widely available. In those early days, the only option was FUT. Even for the very rich and famous.

Did He Need the Hair Transplant?

“Need” might be too strong a word in the context of Elon Musk’s hairline restoration.

Musk is a businessman, not a celebrity like an actor or singer. In this sense, he did not strictly “need” to have a transplant.

Yet human hair has incredible aesthetic power. Like any other man, Mr Musk would have not been happy about going bald at such a young age.

So we can understand his decision in the context of a celebrated personality determined to put forward his best image.

How Much Did Elon Musk Pay for His Hair Transplant?

As a billionaire, Elon Musk had enough resources to pay for the best.

Hair restoration is a diverse market. There are hundreds of clinics and surgeons offering hair restoration services. This means it’s difficult to quote the exact amount of money Mr. Musk dished out. However, the average cost of hair transplant surgeries is around $10,000. That figure may be lower or higher depending on the number of grafts an individual needs.

Will His Hair Loss Return?

A hair transplant is not a ticket to perpetually thick, voluminous hair. The procedure helps to restore parts of the head that have gone bald or thinned. It cannot stop the underlying progression of male pattern baldness.

It is for this reason that men often need a second or third transplant. As their hair continues to fall out, they need to keep transplanting hairs from the donor areas, until these are eventually depleted.

In the case of Musk, we see that he still has thick-looking hair on the top of his head. This is not compatible with only one transplant surgery two decades ago. More likely, the entrepreneur either had additional transplants or is taking medication like finasteride to stop his baldness from deteriorating.


Elon Musk’s decision to go for a hair transplant may be debatable. But one thing stands out: He is proof that balding men can have the hair of their youthful days restored.

His incredible transformation confirms that it is possible to restore a youthful appearance thanks to advances in medical expertise and technology.

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