Blog, Hair Transplant

Eyebrow and beard transplant—they last forever

You may have heard of hair transplant before—but facial hair transplant?

Yep, we’re talking about eyebrows and beards. In 2017, more and more men in Singapore were reportedly going for beard transplants to get help growing out their facial hair. [1] Why? For some men, having a ‘baby face’ (meaning, having young and childlike facial features) may not be what they want.

A beard transplant is also useful to enhance lower face features, extremely useful for men who have a weak jawline or chin. 

Godfrey Gao without and with facial hair (Source)

An eyebrow transplant is far more natural-looking and long-lasting than an eyebrow embroidery. 

Eyebrow and beard hair transplants are PERMANENT. You don’t need a fancy reason to want a beard or eyebrows, for that matter. Advancements in cosmetic care and technology have allowed transplants of both of these things today. If you are struggling to grow facial hair, you may want to consider a facial hair transplant, understand whether it actually works and if it is suited for you.

Yes, facial hair transplant works

A facial hair transplant is simply a type of hair transplant—done on the face.

The procedure involves removing hair follicles from the back of your scalp and transplanting them onto your face, where you want your beard or eyebrows to be. [2] Imagine plucking some hair from the back of your head (where hair is usually the fullest and thickest) and putting them where you may need them more. That’s the main idea.

To date, there are two techniques of hair transplant:

  • Follicular Unit Hair Transplant (FUT)
  • Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) 

FUT is a technique that takes out a strip of skin from the back of your scalp, then removes the hair follicles from the said strip, for transplantation to occur. This usually causes a linear scar at the donor area. [3]

In the newer method, FUE, individual hair follicles are harvested directly from the scalp, then transplanted to the new area. There is minimal scarring to expect with this technique. [4]

Hair follicles are chosen from the back of the head because these follicles are typically resistant to dihydrotestosterone, DHT, a hormone that tampers hair growth. 

With age, much of our hair follicles become more sensitive to DHT, which binds to and shrinks the follicles. However, the ones at the back (and sides) of the scalp are less affected by it.  These are the areas where hair growth tends to be strongest and most persistent, making for the ideal donor site. [5]

Once successfully transplanted, the newly-moved hair follicles will heal and grow hair as normal healthy follicles do! Studies on hair transplant surgery have cited graft survival rates of over 90%. [6]

Why anyone would need a facial hair transplant

There are a variety of reasons why people cannot grow facial hair. The biggest one is genetics. Some people just have more sparse hair follicles on their face, or they have follicles that grow hair really slowly. [7]

Another reason could be ethnicity. Research has found that Chinese men, on average, have less facial hair growth than Caucasian men. [8] The same study saw that Chinese men tend to grow hair more densely around the mouth, and less on the cheek, neck and chin, compared to their Caucasian counterparts.

Low levels of testosterone can also limit beard growth, but it is rarely the only or even a significant cause. Certain hair or skin issues like alopecia areata (an autoimmune disease characterised by hair loss) or severe acne scarring could also leave the hair follicles on your face traumatised and unable to grow hair healthily.

Overplucking of eyebrows can lead to the thinning or permanent loss of eyebrow hair. This is due to the destruction of hair follicles that occurs from overplucking, which results in the inability to grow hair. 

Unfortunately, most of these factors are out of our control. The good news, then, is that facial hair transplant procedures are alive and well-practised today. Your inability to grow facial hair need not mean it is impossible to have any facial hair in your life.

Can you transplant one person’s hair to another?

No, you cannot transplant someone else’s hair follicles to your face.

As mentioned, during a facial hair transplant, hair follicles are extracted from the back of your scalp then transplanted onto your face. The reason doctors have to take your own hair follicles is that your body will accept your own transplanted hair follicles, not someone else’s!

In the case that you receive transplantation of another person’s hair follicles that don’t match your DNA, your body will likely trigger an immune response, rejecting the transplants, and possibly leading to further complications. [9]

In short, you’ll have to be your own donor and recipient.

No pain no gain: Hair transplants may hurt

You must know that hair transplants are surgical procedures.

During the surgery, you will be under local anaesthesia, so you will not feel any pain during the procedure itself. However, post-surgery, swelling and soreness may occur at the treatment areas, and some pain and/or discomfort would not be abnormal, too.

Your doctor will prescribe painkillers (along with other necessary post-care and therapies) to help you ease the pain during the recovery process. But it is still beneficial that you go in prepared, and know what to expect during and after the procedure.

Will your new hair really last forever?

Yes, if done correctly.

Hair transplants are designed as a permanent solution to hair loss. [10] The hair follicles taken are grafted into the recipient area securely and should function and grow like normal, healthy hair (because they are!) [11]

However, if a poor technique was used, such as the improper implantation of hair follicles, the survivability and longevity of your new brows or beard will be harmed. Hence, you should only engage a doctor that is experienced and skilled at doing hair transplant surgeries and has your trust.

Do beard or eyebrow transplants just keep growing?

Essentially, the newly transplanted facial hair operates the same way as the donor’s hair. That means you can expect your new beard or eyebrow to grow at the same rate as when it was at the back of your head.

We know what you’re thinking: do I want my eyebrows to grow like the hair on my head?

If you get an eyebrow transplant, be prepared to do a fair bit of maintenance work on your part to have them trimmed and styled regularly… unless you fancy ultra-long brows. The same can be said for your newly transplanted beard.

Do not worry, this is not a lifetime commitment! After a few years, the transplanted hair will take on the characteristics of the neighbouring hair such as their texture and growth rate. Less trimming will then be required. 

What are the side effects of facial hair transplants?

Generally, these are the common side effects patients experience after the surgery [12]:

  • Tenderness at treatment areas
  • Swelling
  • Redness

They can be managed with medication and ought to go away within a few weeks.

A bigger — and usually more alarming — side effect that patients also experience is more hair loss. Of course, it is not exactly what you’d want to see after a hair transplant procedure, and it is easy to worry that shedding your newly transplanted hair means your hair transplant has failed.

However, fret not that it is a normal and temporary part of the recovery process! Usually, this happens around 2 weeks after the surgery and it is just the transplanted hair follicles settling into the new area. 

Though the hairs are breaking off, the follicles are unharmed and healing. Your hair will grow back. As such, do not panic if you start seeing your new hair fall.

Aftercare matters. How to care for your new eyebrows or beard

Proper care for your transplanted beard or eyebrows can help prevent infection and promote good recovery and outcomes. Here are some tips to care for your new eyebrows or beard after the surgery! [13], [14]

  • Avoid excessive sun exposure for the following weeks.
  • Avoid touching or scratching the treatment areas — especially the scabs!
  • Avoid alcohol or smoking.
  • Avoid using potentially irritating products on the treatment areas for a while (e.g. brow gel, razors, etc.) and wait until your doctor says it is okay before you start shaving or styling your facial hair.
  • Always be gentle when washing or handling the treatment areas.
  • Take your medications (likely antibiotics, anti-inflammation medicines) as prescribed.

It is crucial that you communicate with your doctor about your recovery and let them know if anything in your healing process seems amiss. 

Our clinic also uses LLLT, BioHeal and other post-care treatments to aid smoother recovery. I didn’t even experience any hair loss after the procedure (extremely rare) and I credit the recovery process!

Will a facial hair transplant leave a scar?

As mentioned, the FUT technique leaves a linear scar on the back of your head, where the strip of skin and hair follicles were extracted from. However, it may be easily concealed because there is usually a lot of hair in that area, covering the spot nicely. [15]

You will have to take care of that area post-surgery, though, to make sure that the wound heals well. This is on top of caring for the recipient area.

in Singapore, you will more likely undergo an FUE hair transplant instead. This is the more popular method in Asia because of the lower risk of scarring.

But given the surgical nature of the process, having virtually zero scars is not quite possible. In the FUE technique, the individual harvesting of hair follicles will result in tiny puncture marks or pinpoint scars. But they tend to be small and unnoticeable! [16]

Trust the process: Timeline for eyebrow and beard transplant

By now, you can probably tell that getting a facial hair transplant is a process. For a beard transplant, it can take up to a whole year before you finally see the full result! This is important for you to take note of, not just so you can choose a suitable time for your procedure, but also go in knowing what to expect.

Beard Transplant [17]

Eyebrow Transplant [18]

Getting a new beard or eyebrows will not happen overnight, so be prepared for the wait and the downtime if you want to commit to the procedure.

Hair transplants gone wrong

Okay, so you might have made the mistake of looking at photos of hair transplants gone awfully wrong, and now you’re slightly on the edge if you really want to take the risk. Especially since your face is at stake here — and that’s a big deal to a lot of us.

Overharvesting, excessive trauma and improper placement of the hair follicles can cause serious infections and scarring. The best that could happen with a poorly done hair transplant is unnatural-looking new hair. The worse? A severely hurt scalp or face.

Still, you’d want to have a doctor who has credentials, and whom you trust. Below, we tell you how you can go about searching for a suitable doctor to perform your hair transplant in Singapore!

How to find a doctor for my facial hair transplant

Generally, you want a doctor that is experienced in doing not only hair transplants but facial hair transplants as well. Not only is it important to have someone technically skilled to carry out the extraction, inspection and implantation processes seamlessly, it is also vital that they can help you reconstruct your facial hair in a way that suits your face shape, features, and ideal look.

When looking for doctors, you can search up reviews, and enquire about their past facial hair transplantation experiences during your consultation. Before and after photos will help too!

Here is my personal experience with FUE hair transplant to achieve a beard.

How much do facial hair transplants cost?

The price of the hair transplant will largely depend on the number of grafts (small units of tissue) needed. Here, we look at estimates of the number of grafts you may need for your beard or eyebrow transplant, and the price you can expect to pay for them in Singapore.

TransplantNo. of graftsCost
Beard400 – 500 for a moustache;around 1,000 for both a moustache and a goatee$3,000 onwards
Eyebrows350 – 700 $2,500 onwards

Eyebrow transplant vs microblading

For many people that aren’t too fond of their natural brows, microblading, or eyebrow tattooing, is one of their first options. Microblading works by inking fine lines into the brows that replicate hair strands to give the illusion of thicker eyebrows. [19]

Microblading offers a semi-permanent alternative for those not keen to go under the knife. They are usually done in eyebrow salons, and results tend to last 12 – 18 months before touch-up sessions are required. [20]

The biggest difference between an eyebrow transplant and a microblading procedure would be how natural you want your new brows to be. Microblading, if done well, can create a realistic image of real brows. However, it cannot top an eyebrow transplant that will actually give you real brows.

Below, I explain a few more differences between these two options, to help choose the one more suited to your needs:

MicrobladingEyebrow Transplant
ProcedureNon-surgical, can be done at salonsSurgical, only performed by doctors
Cost$600 – $2,000, usually sold in a package with touch-up sessions [21]$2,500
Recovery & DowntimeAround 1 – 2 weeks for the eyebrows to heal (they tend to appear very dark during this period) and slight scabbing may occur [22]Around 1 month for the bruising, scabbing and hair shedding to pass its course
Results1 month before the final colour and results showFades with time6 months to fully grow
Longevity12 – 18 monthsPermanent


References:

  1. Tan, S. (2017). More men going for facial hair transplants. [online] The New Paper. Available at: https://www.tnp.sg/lifestyle/health/more-men-going-facial-hair-transplants [Accessed 31 Mar. 2021].
  2. The Sun. (2017). The number of blokes getting beard transplants has trebled in TWO YEARS, but what does the procedure involve? [online] Available at: https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/3280223/beard-transplant-cost-celebrities-procedure/ [Accessed 31 Mar. 2021].
  3. Dua, A. and Dua, K. (2010). Follicular unit extraction hair transplant. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, [online] 3(2), pp.76–81. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2956961/ [Accessed 1 Nov. 2019].
  4. Harley Street Hair Clinic. (n.d.). FUE Hair Transplant, FUE Transplant London, UK, Book A Consultation. [online] Available at: https://www.hshairclinic.co.uk/hair-loss-treatment/fue-hair-transplant [Accessed 31 Mar. 2021].
  5. Cox, D. (2019). The new growth in hair loss research. The Observer. [online] 7 Sep. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/sep/07/new-hair-loss-research-balding-medical-treatments.
  6. Parsley, W.M. and Perez-Meza, D. (2010). Review of factors affecting the growth and survival of follicular grafts. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, [online] 3(2), pp.69–75. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2956960/ [Accessed 2 Nov. 2019].
  7. Haltiwanger, J. (n.d.). Here’s Why Some People Just Can’t Grow A Beard. [online] Elite Daily. Available at: https://www.elitedaily.com/p/reasons-why-some-people-cant-grow-beards-even-if-their-lives-depended-on-it-1926193 [Accessed 31 Mar. 2021].
  8. Maurer, M., Rietzler, M., Burghardt, R. and Siebenhaar, F. (2016). The male beard hair and facial skin – challenges for shaving. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 38, pp.3–9.
  9. Institute, M.H. (2017). Is it possible to get a hair transplant with someone else’s hair as the donor area? [online] Modena Hair Institute. Available at: https://modenahair.com/blog/possible-get-hair-transplant-someone-elses-hair-donor-area/ [Accessed 31 Mar. 2021].
  10. www.aad.org. (n.d.). A hair transplant can give you permanent, natural-looking results. [online] Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/treatment/transplant [Accessed 31 Mar. 2021].
  11. Jezic, Goran (hairphysician.com). (n.d.). Are Hair Transplants Permanent? | Hair Transplant Center – Houston Hair Transplant | Dr. Jezic. [online] Available at: https://www.hairphysician.com/are-hair-transplants-permanent/ [Accessed 31 Mar. 2021].
  12. Parekh, M. (n.d.). Beard transplant side-effects. [online] Available at: https://wimpoleclinic.com/blog/beard-transplant-side-effects/ [Accessed 31 Mar. 2021].
  13. Marc Dauer, MD Hair Transplant Doctor Los Angeles. (n.d.). Post-Operative Instructions For Eyebrow Transplant | Eyebrow Transplant Los Angeles. [online] Available at: https://mdnewhair.com/post-operative-instructions-for-eyebrow-transplant/ [Accessed 31 Mar. 2021].
  14. www.hairlossdoctors.com. (n.d.). Beard Transplant Recovery – New York, NY Facial Hair Surgery Healing. [online] Available at: https://www.hairlossdoctors.com/blog/2017/10/30/beard-transplant-recovery-what-patients-187123 [Accessed 31 Mar. 2021].
  15. www.iahrs.org. (n.d.). Success Rate of Facial Hair Restoration – Is There Visible Scarring With FUE? | IAHRS. [online] Available at: https://www.iahrs.org/q-a/success-rate-facial-hair-transplant [Accessed 31 Mar. 2021].
  16. Longevita Hair Transplant. (n.d.). Hair Transplant Scarring: What You Need To Know. [online] Available at: https://www.longevitahairtransplant.com/en/guides/post-operative/transplant-scarring-need-to-know/ [Accessed 31 Mar. 2021].
  17. Northwest Hair Restoration. (2019). Six Things to Know If You’re Considering a Beard Transplant. [online] Available at: https://www.hairreplacementsurgeon.com/2019/01/11/six-things-to-know-if-youre-considering-a-beard-transplant/ [Accessed 31 Mar. 2021].
  18. Eyebrow Transplantation | Miami, FL & New York, NY. (n.d.). Eyebrow transplants | Miami, FL | New York, NY. [online] Available at: https://www.eyebrowtransplantation.com/procedures/eyebrow-transplants [Accessed 31 Mar. 2021].
  19. Face, V. and Center, S. (2019). The Difference Between Microblading and Eyebrow Transplant. [online] Vargas Face and Skin Center. Available at: https://www.vargasfaceandskin.com/the-difference-between-microblading-and-eyebrow-transplant/ [Accessed 31 Mar. 2021].
  20. Driver, G. (2017). Microblading – Everything You Need To Know About The Semi-Permanent Eyebrow Treatment. [online] ELLE. Available at: https://www.elle.com/uk/beauty/a31566/microblading-eyebrows/.
  21. MoneySmart.Sg – Tips, tricks and uncommon wisdom to help you get more out of your money. (2019). Eyebrow Embroidery Singapore Price Guide – Browhaus, Erabelle & More. [online] Available at: https://blog.moneysmart.sg/fitness-beauty/eyebrow-embroidery-singapore/ [Accessed 31 Mar. 2021].
  22. BrowStyling. (n.d.). Microblading FAQ. [online] Available at: https://www.browstyling.com/faq.