Joel McHale Hair Transplant Journey

Known for his biting sarcastic humour (with impeccable timing), Joel McHale’s someone you have to know about if you’re even slightly into comedy. 

Sure, there are many who still think of no one but Jeff when they look at him, but there are others who remember him as the crooked manager who tried to steal a gold coin from none other than Doc Ock! 

But we digress because what we want to talk about is how much Joel’s hairline has changed over the years. For instance, just between the time when Spiderman 2 came out – which was in 2004 – and his hit comedy show Community, his hairline really went through something. 

And it was obviously speculated that Joel McHale hair transplant had happened sometime around. Only, we don’t think anyone suspected that it was not one but three hair transplants. But why did he need that many? Let’s find out. 

Who Is Joel McHale?

Joel McHale
Joel McHale, 2012

Born in 1971 (we’ll save you the time, he’s 51 at the time of writing, which is 2023) in Rome, Joel Edward McHale is of Norwegian, Finnish, and English ancestry. But while he was born in Italy, he actually grew up in Seattle, Washington. 

After finishing high school in 1991, he went on to get his bachelor’s in history from the University of Washington in 1995. 

During this time, he also did a short stint in the university’s football team (and rowing as well!). He didn’t play any games, and it all came to an end anyways after being in a fight. 

But a year after he graduated, McHale made his small screen debut with Almost Alive. Just two years later, he even starred in one episode of Bill Nye The Science Guy. 

And while he also made small appearances in different films, it was his time as a host on E!’s The Soup that really changed things for him. And thanks to a parody of Matthew McCoughnay, the comedian even landed an Emmy nomination for the show. 

But that wasn’t the only thing that shot Joel to fame during that time. His role as Jeff Winger is rather unforgettable. While it’s been 8 years since the show ended, The Soup and Community are, at least so far, considered McHale’s magnum opuses (although, well, White House Correspondents’ dinner is also pretty high up on the list). 

Since then, however, the actor’s hosted many shows, including The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale, Crime Scene Kitchen, Card Shark, and Celebrity Beef. He’s also awaiting the release of a few films he’s starred in. 

Did Joel McHale Get A Hair Transplant?

Joel McHale hair 2
Joel McHale, 2018

In a podcast with Justin Long, Joel McHale admitted to getting not one but three hair transplants. “Yeah! I’d be totally bald. We’re not all born with gorgeous thick hair like you …,” said the comedian while pointing towards Justin’s, indeed, very beautiful hair. 

Looking at his photos, it’s likely that he had his first transplant sometime between 2006 and 2007 because before that, his temples had receded quite significantly. 

But then, in the early days of Community in 2009, his forehead started to look quite big again. And that happens when the hairline is receding. That look didn’t last long though, because in 2011, his hairline again looked like it had moved to the front.

And by 2014, McHale’s hairline had only gotten straighter, so it’s possible that he had his hair transplant before that. 

Since then, however, things have seemed pretty consistent. Now while he hasn’t revealed the exact dates of when he had his surgeries, we can only guess by looking at the changes in his hairline. 

What Type Of Hair Transplant Did Joel McHale Get? 

Joel McHale hair transplant
Joel McHale, 2015

In the podcast with Justin Long, Mchale said, “The technology is bananas now. They pluck your hair and stick it there.” 

By that, we can think he probably means FUE hair transplant (or even its variants Sapphire or DHI hair transplant), in which individual hair follicles are harvested from the back of the scalp using a punch tool. And then, those grafts are inserted into the bald spots through small incisions. 

But the way he talks about the technology advancing, it’s possible that he has some experience with one of the old techniques called the FUT hair transplant. In this, a strip of skin is excised from the scalp, and the individual grafts are cut out from that. 

His first surgery may have been done using the FUT technique because it was more popular around the early 2000s. 

According to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS), FUE started to dominate the hair transplant industry after 2010. 

Where Did Joel McHale Get A Hair Transplant? 

Joel hasn’t revealed where he had the surgeries, but one thing he did say was, “The guy who did mine (hair transplant), he’s like, ‘Oh, I spend a lot of time fixing crappy surgeries where they go to different countries and it’s a third of the cost.’’ 

Now, for one, that’s a rather unfair remark. Turkey’s one of the most popular tourist destinations for hair transplants, where this surgery is, in fact, done for a third of the cost. But hair transplant in Turkey is cheap because of the lower cost of living and exchange rates, not because your surgery’s going to be botched. 

Maybe McHeal also chose medical tourism for his first hair transplant (not necessarily Turkey!) but didn’t do proper research (or follow the aftercare closely enough), which led him to get another hair transplant. But then he had another one as well (we’ll shortly get into why he might’ve done that). 

Why Was Joel McHale Losing His Hair?

Joel McHale 3
Joel McHale, 2010

It looks like Joel McHale was losing his hair due to male pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia. It’s a type of hair loss that affects millions around the globe and mainly has to do with the genetics of the person. 

In pattern baldness, the hair follicles start to miniaturise permanently (the shaft keeps getting thinner), and males usually lose their hair in a distinct “M-shaped” pattern. A Norwood-Hamilton scale was developed for it to identify its severity. 

Looking at McHale’s early years photos, it looked like he was on Norwood stage 3 before he decided to get a hair transplant. 

How Many Grafts Did Joel McHale Need?

It’s possible that for all the surgeries that he’d had over the years, Joel McHeal only needed about 2,500 grafts. And the main reason behind it is that it’s just his hairline and temples that have changed most significantly. 

And since the size of those balding areas is not too large, there’s no need to extract too many grafts to achieve good coverage and density. You can also estimate the number of grafts you need by using a graft calculator

The Transformation of Joel McHale’s Hair

To just get an idea of how much Joel’s hair has changed over the years, here’s a before and after of it: 

Why Did Joel McHale Need Three Hair Transplants? 

Before anything, you must understand that hair transplants work on a principle of “donor dominance.” 

You see how bald people lose hair on the top and front of their scalps but not the back and sides? That’s essentially what it is, and that’s why hair transplants are able to give permanent results. 

So, when your hair is transplanted from the back to the front, it shouldn’t fall off, and your hairline shouldn’t recede. But that’s when hair has been extracted from what’s known as the “safe donor area.” 

It’s where the hair is less likely to be affected by the hormone (DHT) that causes pattern hair loss. Now, it’s possible that his hair grafts weren’t extracted from the “safe” area. 

However, it’s also possible that there were problems during the actor’s recovery from the surgery. This may have led him to have another surgery. And then another one to change the shape of his hairline to make it straighter. 

The Impact of Hair Transplant on Joel McHale’s Career

It’s hard to say exactly how a hair transplant impacted Joel’s career. But in an industry that puts a premium on good looks, we can say it must’ve mattered quite a bit. 

And realising this very thing Joel might’ve thought that a hair transplant was a good enough long-term investment. 

It’s also that hair loss or being bald can make you look older than you really are. Not to discount the comedian’s talent, but it’s possible his hair might’ve helped him secure some major gigs. 

If you’re also considering transplantation surgery but aren’t sure about the results, you should check out our hair transplant Turkey before and after gallery. It might help you decide on a hair loss treatment for your bald areas.


Joel McHale’s hair transplant certainly doesn’t come as a surprise. There are many celebrities in the entertainment industry who get this surgery, either secretly or quite openly. 

While there’s still some stigma around men getting cosmetic procedures, you must keep in mind that it can affect their confidence and self-esteem just like any other person’s. 

And an even more important thing to remember is that, it’s Joel’s head, he can do whatever he wants to do with it. 

And if you also want to do something about your bald spots, just make sure to do your research and find a qualified and experienced medical doctor. 

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