Facial hair consists of many elements including beards, eyelashes, eyebrows and sideburns. There are many reasons why people can lose any part of their facial hair. It could be caused by stress or trauma, scarring, radiation, trichotillomania (where the patient has a compulsion to pull our their hair) or simply just because of old age.
For men it can be extremely embarrassing to lose their sideburns or beard. In some cultures a beard is a sign of masculinity and it can therefore be devastating for a person to lose the hair on their face. Whilst a lot of men are bald on their heads, they still retain the ability to grow a beard, so it is particularly noticeable when the hair loss is facial.
For women it is embarrassing not to have any eyelashes or eyebrows. Some women lose their eyebrows due to years of plucking which can actually damage the hair follicle over time. These women often have to draw on their eyebrows and this can be quite noticeable. Men can also lose their eyebrows or have bald patches within them. Often the reasons include genetics, alopecia areata, thyroid disorders or even severe chemical treatments such as chemotherapy.
However, the good news is that thanks to modern technology, one can now have a facial hair transplant. It is very similar to the procedure done on the head and can be life changing for those living with the condition.
A beard hair transplant works similarly to one on the scalp. In fact, the hairs are taken from the scalp because they are similar to the hairs on the face. They are extracted either through FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) or by FUT (Follicular Unit Transportation or Strip Harvesting) methods and are then transplanted as one or two hair grafts so that it grows in the natural way that hair would grow on the face.
If you look closely at a beard, you will notice that some hairs grow in pairs, so the results of the transplant will need to match that behaviour. The angle is very important when placing these grafts so that when the hair starts to grow, it grows in the right direction. After the transplant some scabs will form and the hairs will usually fall out, leaving the healthy follicles in place. Within three months, the beard will have grown and will need to be shaved as one would a natural beard.
FUE is the most common form of facial hair transplant. During FUE, the surgeon uses a small punch like device to extract the hairs, rather than a whole strip used in FUT. FUE gives the surgeon more control of where to place the new hairs and to ensure that the angle is correct. There is also less scarring.
The operation takes 2-3 hours and is done under local anaesthetic.
Eyebrow transplants work in exactly the same way as beard transplants. The important part of eye brow surgery is making the brows look even and suit the shape of your eyes and face. Again, the angle in which the new hair is placed is vital. The eyebrows will need to be trimmed just like the beard as the hairs will grow longer than they normally would.
Eyelash transplants also use hair from the scalp. Around 25 hairs are placed into the upper eyelid. They will grow longer than normal eyelashes and will need to be trimmed at regular intervals.
Not all clinics in the UK that provide hair transplants will also offer facial hair transplants. However, clinics such as Ziering and The Wimpole Clinic specialise in it. It is also important to book more than one consultation so that you can compare surgeons, advice and costs. Make sure that your surgeon is recognised in their field and is qualified to undertake the operation. Check websites and forums for advice and watch surgery videos to get a clear understanding of the process. Ask to speak to former patients if possible.
Facial hair transplant surgery can cost anywhere between £1,000 and £10,000 depending on the part of the face (or area) that is being covered and the length of time the operation will take.
Hair transplants have started to gain a lot of publicity since celebrities such as Elton John and Wayne Rooney have opted to have the procedure. No celebrity has yet admitted to having a facial hair transplant - but it is probably just a matter of time.
The options available for people to be able to grow hair in places where hair has not grown for some time - or ever - are now quite remarkable. However, if you are thinking about heading down this route, it is important to do some thorough research in order to make a fully informed decision.