Written by Dr. Griffin
In most cultures, facial hair is associated with masculinity. A lack of facial hair or the inability to grow a thick, manly beard can be embarrassing for some men. Coupled with the recent trend in sporting a full beard, mustache, or goatee, it’s easy to see why beard and facial hair transplants have increased in popularity over the past several years.
A beard transplant is a type of hair transplant that is performed to increase facial hair in the beard area. A similar procedure can be performed to increase sideburn and cheek hair if desired. In some cases, beard transplants are used to conceal scars caused by acne, injury, burn, or surgery.
Facial hair growth in men
Most men begin to develop facial hair during late adolescence, around 16 – 20 years of age. By their early to mid-20s, their full, adult beard has grown in. During these years of growth, it is normal for the beard to appear patchy and sparse as it grows in. By the mid-20s, men will have a pretty good idea of what their beard looks like – for better or for worse.
Real Patient Before & After Photos
Genetics are primarily responsible for dictating facial hair growth. Some men are blessed with thick, full facial hair, while other men seem to grow very little at all or experience pronounced patchiness in their beard growth patterns. In some cases, men experience facial hair loss, which can be caused by genetics, surgery, injury or by intentional removal of the hair (for example, laser hair removal or electrolysis).
A beard transplant can be performed to improve or enhance facial hair growth. The objectives of the surgery will vary based upon the individual, but will typically involve thickening the beard area or filling in bald areas. The goal of the hair transplant is to provide a permanent and natural result that matches the pattern and texture of hair in the surrounding areas.
How beard transplants are performed
As with other hair transplant procedures, a beard transplant is performed in two parts, all on the same day. The first phase involves harvesting the hair follicles from the back or side of the head. During the second phase, the harvested hair grafts are transplanted in the beard area.
Real Patient Before & After Photos
The surgeon will examine the hair on the back and sides of the scalp to determine which site offers hair that will be the closest match to the patient’s facial hair. Once the donor site is identified, the surgeon will use one of two methods to harvest the hair follicles:
- Strip harvesting: This method involves the removal of a horizontal strip of skin and hair from the back of the patient’s head. The incision site is then carefully sutured to reduce scarring. Longer hair typically conceals the incision site well, but a small scar is unavoidable. Once the strip has been removed, the surgeon carefully dissects the individual hair follicles and prepares them for transplantation.
- Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE): During FUE, the surgeon makes tiny, circular incisions on the back of the head to remove individual hair follicles. These are then prepared for transplantation. This method typically results in a much lower incidence of scarring, making it the preferred method for many surgeons.
Once the grafts are ready, the surgeon will carefully implant them in the designated area(s) on the face. To achieve an aesthetically pleasing result, the surgeon must meticulously place each individual hair graft so that the angle and pattern of the hairs appear natural for that individual.
After the surgery, the patient is able to return home. Dr. Griffin recommends that his patients rest for about 24 hours after their surgery, but they can resume normal activities after that period. Small scabs will form around each of the transplanted hairs and will be present for about the first week following the surgery. As such, some men choose to take a few days off work to avoid appearing in public. While the scabs are present, it’s important to follow post-operative instructions to promote proper healing.
More strenuous activities and exercise should be avoided for the next 7 days. Once the donor and recipient areas have completely healed, it is important to protect the areas from sun exposure to avoid discoloration.
The results of a facial hair transplant are not seen immediately. Two or three weeks after the surgery, the transplanted hair shafts will follow out, while the transplanted hair follicles continue to heal. They’ll regrow within three months and continue to get thicker and longer over the next 12 to 18 months. Once all of the follicles have begun growing, they will continue to grow for a lifetime.
The hair can be shaved and groomed exactly like any other facial hair.
Beard transplant cost
The cost of a beard transplant depends upon the number of grafts required for the procedure. Patients wanting a dramatically thick beard will need more grafts than a patient who only wishes to fill in a bald or patchy area. You will be given a cost for your beard transplant during your initial consultation. It is possible that more than one session may be required, usually separated by at least 6 months.