Beard Transplants: the Process, the Benefits and the Risks
Are you concerned about your beard being uneven, or that it doesn't look like you envisaged before you grew it? Luckily there are options and procedures that can fix this for you, but one surprising procedure that is gaining more and more popularity among men is the Beard Transplant. Here we guide you through the key points of beard hair transplants to give you the heads up about something you might consider...
Who Can Have A Beard Hair Transplant?
A beard transplant could be the solution for men with an absence of hair, whether they are unable to grow a goatee, a mustache, sideburns or any other part of a beard. This lack of growing power can be caused by a number of factors, from genetics and hereditary, surgical scars, burns or other circumstances. For a transplant to take place, you don't have to have a complete absence of hair; it can also be the solution for men with patchy beards and would like to see it thicker and more 'filled up'.
What Is A Beard Transplant?
This type of hair restoration is gaining more and more popularity and is a cosmetic procedure that is not invasive, does not take much time to be executed, and the recovery period is also quite straight forward.
Quite simply, it's an implantation of hair follicles into any bald patches on the face. The hair follicles are removed individually from the back of the scalp as this is the area where the hair is the thickest, then the surgeon places each follicle in the indicated facial area that requires a thicker hair density. This gives instant fullness to the mustache or beard as required. If you are familiar with ordinary hair transplants, then the beard transplant applies the same technique.
Once the process of implantation of the follicles is completed, the beard should start growing immediately, giving fast and satisfactory results. Usually men who have undergone this procedure are able to shave after just fourteen days, and the new hair can be styled similarly to the already existing hair. However, it's not unusual to find that the new hairs actually fall out after two to three weeks, and although it seems as though the transplant may have been unsuccessful, it's actually a normal process and indication of a positive response to transplantation! Once it has fallen out, the hair will start growing back permanently, although it might take three to four months while the papillae need some time to adjust and grow 'roots' after the shock of implantation. Full growth can be expected in about six to eight months. However, the success rate on these procedures is very high and the new hair is a permanent addition; it will have the same texture and characteristics as normal hair and can be styled just like natural hair once settled.
How Is It Done, And How Long Does it Take To Heal?
There are several techniques that can be applied for the procedure of beard transplantation. The difference lies in the method to be used for the extraction of the follicles and their implantation to the new growth site. The most common are the FUE and the FUT methods.
FUE: Follicular Unit Extraction
This is the most commonly applied procedure for beards. The surgeon will remove individual hair follicles from a donor region (usually the scalp) and implant them where you need your beard to be filled in. He will then make some very small incisions in the correct facial area. This is a very skilled and delicate process as it determines the direction, density and angulation of each new hair, and is entirely dependent on the expertise and experience of your chosen doctor. Later, his competence and dexterity will be apparent in how natural your new beard appears, blending in to look not like a transplant at all but a perfectly genuine and organic symbol of normal facial hair. Of course, top quality also determines top price: quite simply, you get what you pay for!
Usually, it is estimated that between 4,000 and 7,000 hairs are needed for beard restoration, depending on how large or patchy the recipient area is, and this surgical technique lasts from two to five hours under local anesthetic. Tiny scars will occur where the hair follicles were removed, but these are not noticeable as the normal hair will cover them adequately. Some surgeons perform this procedure manually; others may use mechanical aids.
Follicular Unit Extraction offers a faster recovery time than other techniques, and in most cases, there is little or no discomfort. Also, this method gives very satisfying and fast results for both beards and mustaches. Research shows that since 2017, FUE has become the most common procedure, taking over from the once acclaimed FUT method.
FUT: Follicular Unit Transplantation
Otherwise, known as the strip procedure, the surgeon performing the FUT method removes a strip of healthy hair-bearing skin from the donor area (again, most typically the scalp), and implants it into the facial areas needing to be treated. The donor area will be small and stitched and is soon covered by the surrounding hair making it unnoticeable.
As with FUE, tiny incisions are made in the beard and the collected hair is applied. The hairs are not collected individually but rather in groups of one to four 4 hairs, called follicular units. This is one of the reasons why the beard looks fuller using this method as generally there are more hairs transplanted close together. This surgical process might last between four and twelve hours, depending on the area to be covered and the number of units to be relocated; and again the procedure is normally carried under local anesthetic.
The recovery time is longer than with FUE, and for the first five days the donor area where the stitches are in situ on the scalp should not be touched. There may also be some swelling on the relocation area but there are products available to alleviate the healing process.
As with the FUE method, FUT delivers a new beard that should look like natural hair and will be undetectable as a transplant.
The Pro's and Cons
Beard Transplant Benefits
- Permanent results
- Safe surgical procedure
- Requires only local anesthetic
- Painless: perceived only as small 'pinches'
- Transplanted hairs function as normal hair
- The new beard can be trimmed and shaved as usual
- Covers burns or scars permanently, if required
- Allows for various (and changeable) styles of beard. See our proposed Beard Styles
- By creating the beard of your dreams, you can even sport that super stylish Handlebar Mustache!
Beard Transplant Disadvantages And Risks
- Removal of hair from donor area
- Implanted hair will initially fall away
- The 'revival' period may take several months for new hair to grow
- Possible mild discomfort (bruising, swelling, increased sensitivity, redness, crusts and ingrown hair)
- Possible requirement of antibiotics or ointments to prevent infections
- Expensive outlay (depending on method applied / quality to be achieved; see below)
- No 100% guaranteed success. Sources show a 60-80% success rate and a second transplant might be required for full effect.
- Patience will be needed!
How Much Does It Cost?
Beard transplants are not cheap! Prices can vary from $5,000 to $15,000, depending on how many hair follicles need to be relocated, the quality of the procedure, the reputation of the clinic and location. It is essential that when researching the cost, you are informed on how you will be charged: per session, per follicle, per graft, (a graft contains 2-4 hairs) etc. Such a formula (total cost = number of grafts x price per graft) can help you make a preliminary estimation of your financial outlay.
Price per graft varies greatly. The average indicator for different styles or facial areas is:
- 500 - 800 grafts per mustache
- 600 - 1200 grafts per full goatee
- 200 - 350 grafts per each sideburn
- 1000- 2000 grafts per cheek beard
Where To Go?
The most popular destinations for a beard transplant are India, Turkey, US and Canada. Reviews indicate the highest quality of surgical procedure is to be found in US and Canada but of course here you can expect to find the highest prices! With good research, quality procedures can also be found in India and Turkey. However, it is fundamental that you find the best clinics, or ask for a friend’s recommendation.
Celebrities With Hair Transplants: The Truth and The Rumors!
UK TV star Kyle Christie is among the first celebrities to admit to undergoing a beard transplant and his experience is well documented. Using a Liverpool, UK, clinic in 2017, it took 12 hours for the procedure and 9000 GBP, and the results seem good. Booby Norris and Mario Falcone, both UK Reality TV star, followed in Kyle's footsteps more recently. There's plenty online for you to judge the results for yourselves!
Not many celebrities have publicly admitted to having a beard transplant, although rumors abound about the rapper Eminem and soccer player David Beckham. Normal hair transplants of the scalp (head hair) have become common practice and lots have chosen to speak up about their experiences, including musician Chris Martin, actors Matthew McConaughey, Mel Gibson and John Krasinski, and American TV host Jimmy Kimmel.
Whatever makes you decide to opt for a beard transplant, it is all about feeling better about yourself. If it seems to be the best solution for you, go for it! No one is judging, and the number of men choosing such a procedure has trebled in the last two years according to latest research.
If you identify with this choice, let us know! We are happy to learn more about your story of building the great beard you have always dreamt of!