Beard Hair Transplants
Although one may think that hair transplantation only implies the scalp, there are other types of hair transplantations. Beard transplants is a well-known facial hair procedure with high success rate.
The beard hair transplant is a procedure that entails the transfer of hair follicles from one part of the body to the facial hair area – the beard. This can be a solution for those who cannot grow their beards naturally or have patchy beards.
The hair can usually be transplanted from the back of the scalp or under the chin. However, because the beard hair is different in structure, it can be harder to match the hair from elsewhere.
What is Beard Transplants?
A beard hair transplantation is simply what its name implies – a transplantation of hair follicles to the beard area of a person.
Beard transplantation developed as a result of the scalp hair transplantation development in the early 1950s. It is a surgical procedure that has been progressively performed in the last decade. This procedure evolved with the significant technical advancement of hair restoration. The beard transplantation represents an excellent option for naturally beardless patients, patients with patchy beards, and those who want to hide the facial scars in the beard area.
The beard is one of the dominant esthetic characteristics of male identity. It has a long history and culture which dates back to ancient civilizations. Its value remained unchanged in modern men. However, the opinions on its appearance vary, depending on the culture, beliefs, habits, and individual personality development.
Some cultures and civilizations in history considered the beard a sign of wisdom, social status, and sexual power in men. Nowadays, men also want to have a beard, or they try to fix their patchy beards. The “unshaven look” is a worldwide phenomenon. The modern standards of male beauty imply the beard after 4 to 5 days without shaving. Therefore, it is understandable why contemporary men decide to undergo transplantation procedures to accomplish this look. Although a large number of men who get beard implants do so to hide scars, there is an increasing number of patients who do it mainly to improve their looks.
In this procedure, the hair grafts are being extracted from one part of the body and transferred to your face – either the jawline or wherever you want your beard to grow. The donor hair for this procedure is usually found on the back of the scalp or under the chin. Although this sounds like a simple procedure, it is actually more complex. Therefore, it takes a skillful and experienced plastic surgeon to perform such a procedure.
Characteristics of the beard hair loss
The beard hair loss, also known as alopecia barbae, the form of alopecia areata, refers to hair loss occurring in patches on the beard areas of the facial hair in men. It may occur anywhere in the cheek, chin, mouth, and neck area.
The empty patches appear round and smooth. Furthermore, these patches are accompanied by a tingling or burning sensation. The alopecia barbae is the most common type of alopecia areata, affecting around 2% of men between the ages of 30-40.
The beard hair loss or alopecia barbae can be caused by multiple reasons. Certain diseases, such as alopecia areata, dermatophytosis, seborrheic dermatitis, folliculitis, and emotional stress, may lead to beard hair loss and require clinical treatment. These diseases may progress with diffuse or circumscribed hair loss, causing a patchy beard. Furthermore, hormonal dysfunctions, certain dietary deficiencies, poor diets, and the use of anabolic and other similar drugs may also cause beard loss, causing patchy or thin beards.
It is, therefore, necessary to evaluate the etiology and to make a differential diagnosis. This is essential in setting the surgical indication for loss of beard due to genetic reasons or scars in the beard area, mustache area, and goatee area.
Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that it is completely normal to shed some beard hair as a part of a natural hair growth cycle. The thick full beard holds approximately 30 000 hairs. As part of the shedding, one can see 50-150 beard hairs falling off each day. However, this is not a sign of actual beard hair loss.
Because the beard represents a male esthetic attribute, one may think that beard hair loss occurs as a part of male pattern hair loss. However, the male pattern baldness does not affect beards at all. Actually, the hormone which causes male pattern hair loss, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), stimulates beard hair growth.
The procedure and treatment options for beard hair loss depend on the cause. Anyhow, if your beard hairs start falling out, you will require medical or cosmetic attention. Treatment options vary from surgical to non-surgical.
Non-surgical treatment options include hormone replacement therapies, diet and lifestyle changes, corticosteroid injections, or creams. Furthermore, Minoxidil can be used, depending on the condition, in 2% or 5% concentrations. Another non-surgical option is ultraviolet (UV) light ray therapy, being a valuable and effective method in ceasing hair loss. UV-B light phototherapy may help in reducing beard hair loss. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is also a non-surgical, safe, and effective option for beard hair restoration. This method includes patients’ blood extraction and putting it through a centrifuge to activate platelets. This is then injected back in areas of scanty beard hair growth. The growth factors from the plasma stimulate hair growth in the bald regions through the natural regenerative process and lead to new hair growth.
Surgical options are hair transplantation procedures. Beard transplantation is the process of removing hair follicles from other parts of the body (usually from the back of the scalp or under the chin) and implanting these follicles into the beard area. Approximately 4 000 to 7 000 hairs can be transplanted during this procedure. The beard transplantation is usually done as follicular unit extraction (FUE) or follicular unit transplantation (FUT).
The FUE procedure is performed by harvesting follicular units from the donor area one by one. The FUE is a more common procedure, probably as it is less painful. On the other hand, a surgeon takes a small strip of hair from the donor area in the FUT procedure and implants the tissue to the beard area. Furthermore, it is now possible to transplant hair to any part of the body and the face using direct hair implantation (DHI).
However, whatever surgical approach is used, this is a very challenging procedure because the surgeon has to make sure that each hair points in the right direction.
In case that the patient is not eligible for beard transplantation, beard micropigmentation is preferred. It is a good option if the patients want to have a very short beard.
It is also important to note that beard transplantation is not available on the NHS as it is cosmetic surgery.
The donor area is where the hair grafts are harvested for implantation into the recipient, bald spots.
As for the beard transplantation procedure, the donor areas are usually at the back of the head, where the hair is very thick, and under the chin, if this area is populated enough.
The most common donor site for the beard transplant procedure is the back of the scalp, which represents the safe area. However, the area under the chin is the most suitable one because of the same hair quality and characteristics – again, if this area is populated enough. Furthermore, body-to-hair (body-to-face) transplantation can also be performed, given that there is enough donor hair in the chosen area.
Cost and graft size
The beard hair transplantation usually takes between 2 000 and 7 000 hair grafts, depending on the size of the recipient areas.
The cost of the beard transplant procedure also varies, depending on the number of hair grafts and recipient area, but also the clinic, its location, surgeon, and the chosen technique. In any way, these procedures are not cheap.
The beard transplant can cost up to £11 000 in the UK. A partial transplantation for the facial areas currently not growing hair can cost between £2 000 and £7 000 in the United Kingdom.
In Turkey, beard transplantation costs usually range between £1 800 and £2 900.
Surgery in the UK vs. Turkey
When considering beard hair transplantation, you can decide to do the procedure in your country or abroad.
The primary consideration should be finding an experienced and skilled surgeon, while the price should be the least important factor in making the decision.
There are many hair transplantation clinics in the UK and abroad. Turkey, for example, has lots of clinics performing this type of procedure. The surgery itself is practically the same anywhere, being performed as a one-day surgery and under local anesthesia. However, while the technique might also be the same, the skills of the surgeon performing it are certainly not. The price also differs in the UK and Turkey. Beard hair transplantation is definitely cheaper in Turkey, for example. Moreover, NHS does not cover costs for this procedure. But, you have to take into consideration all the additional costs, including the plane ticket costs, accommodation costs, insurance, sick leave and so on. Furthermore, you should think about the follow-ups and any possible postoperative complications requiring additional visits to your surgeon. You might want to have your surgeon closer.
Risks and considerations
Beard transplantation is a surgical procedure and therefore carries certain risks, including postoperative complications, which, although rare, are possible.
These include a visible scar, postoperative infection, poor wound healing, damage to the hair follicles, pain, bleeding, swelling, numbness, itching, and allergic reaction to local anesthetic.
There is a hair falling of beard as a temporary side effect approximately 3 weeks following the surgery. Also, because you have to sacrifice hair from the other areas of the body in which the hair might become thinner after the procedure. Furthermore, beard transplantation is costly, and you should have that in mind as well. However, despite the cost, always choose a reliable clinic and experienced surgeon. Cheaper options may be available. However, you do not want the incompetent surgeon to work with your face.
In any case, you will consult your surgeon before the surgery and discuss all the potential risks. The doctor should also take a careful and thorough medical history in order to avoid these complications and give you detailed explanations. You will also have to avoid aspirin, anti-inflammatory medications and alcohol for at least 10 days before the surgery.
Beard hair transplant timeline
The beard hair transplantation process can last for months. The approximate timeline is presented below:
- Week 1 – 2 before the procedure: You will choose the clinic, meet your surgeon for consultation and make a detailed plan. You will discuss the procedure and determine the number of grafts needed. If you are satisfied after this meeting, you will arrange the surgery date.
- The procedure itself – 4-8 hours.
- Day 1-5 following the surgery: You will need to take special care of this area, to keep it dry. You may feel discomfort during the first couple of days.
- Day 2: You can return to your everyday, non-strenuous activities.
- Week 2-3: The transplanted hairs will start to fall out after about 2-3 weeks.
- Month 3: Hair will start to re-grow and continue to grow for a lifetime.
- Months 12: The final results are visible.
Results and aftercare
The process of beard hair transplantation can be pretty long. It is highly important to follow the postoperative instructions and do the proper aftercare in order to accomplish optimal results.
- During the first week, you will need to avoid sun exposure and touching your face in the beard area. In that way, you will prevent any infections and the spread of microbes to the beard area.
- When you shower, try to be gentle, do not apply any pressure to the face, and use only lukewarm water.
- Prepare to shed your beard hair after 2-3 weeks following the surgery, as this allows the new and stronger beard hair to come through.
- In the first 3 months, you will need to use only scissors to style the beard because razors can damage the hair grafts and also adversely affect the results.
- Although the hair growth should be noticeable few months following the surgery, full results will be visible within a year.