There’s no denying it, bushy is in. Whether in the form of a beard, brows or sideburns, people are growing out—or trying to. But some guys have lackluster whiskers, and some ladies have plucked their brows into oblivion. (Remember this look?) Now, rather than reaching for Rogaine, people are opting for beard and eyebrow transplants to achieve the bushy-is-better look. Yep, a hair transplant. For your beard. Sound crazy? Wait ’til you hear how it’s done.
To get to the root (ha, get it?) of this growing (again!) trend, I spoke with Rumer Cosmetics‘s Dr. Kathy Rumer, an Ardmore plastic and reconstructive surgeon who performs the procedures. She admits the heavy eyebrow trend isn’t necessarily new (read: Brooke Shields circa Blue Lagoon). In fact, the ebb and flow of eyebrow trends is one of the reasons she’s racked up a clientele: Some have over-plucked to the point where fullness can’t be restored naturally. (So, put down the tweezers!) Others see a brow decline due to genetics or other natural factors.
Unlike the unruly brows of yesteryear, the current trend is a more refined look. “The most requested look I get is Cara Delevingne, the British model,” she says. “The bolder, flat, strong eyebrow. The guys are looking for a fuller, thicker eyebrow also.” Of course model-look aspirations aren’t surprising, but the quest for thick brows runs deeper: Lush brows are indicative of youth. Does this mean eyebrow transplants are replacing Botox as the faux fountain of youth?
As for the guys, most don’t come with an image in mind (well, sometimes ZZ Top). Most are simply looking to fill in patches or create a thicker look. And it’s not just the hipster set, Rumer says. “We’re seeing people in their mid-twenties and up coming for the beards. There isn’t an age cap for beards. Eyebrows, probably 35 years old and all the way up to fifties and sixties.”
Here’s how it works: Using a Neograft machine (Rumer has the only one in the Philadelphia market), hairs are gently extracted from the back of the scalp—the best donor spot, but hairs can also be taken from the arm or chest—and then kept in a moist environment until implanted in the new recipient site. The hairs will eventually develop, take root and grow to accommodate fuller eyebrows or beard.
In the past, hair grafting necessitated taking strips from your scalp that would leave scars. With the Neograft, Rumer says the treatment is virtually pain-free. Plus, there’s no scalpel incision, no sutures, little to no risk of complications, and a super-quick recovery time. What all this means: You can have the procedure done on a Friday and see results on Monday. Yeah, it’s that quick.
Here’s the downside: Beard and eyebrow transplants both start at $3,000. I asked Rumer to explain the inequity of the two services; after all, a beard clearly uses quite more hair that a brow. “You’re paying a premium for the skill,” she says. “Eyebrow hair doesn’t grow straight out. So if you’re having it done, the shape and angle is extremely important. For example, the preference for eyebrow shape changes over time; the arch is a little more to the outside than it used to be, which is something that needs to be kept in mind by the surgeon.”
Once a patient is healed (about two weeks), the hair can be shaved and groomed to the patient’s liking. About 90 to 95 percent of the hairs from the transplant are maintained (verse 60 to 75 percent of older grafting techniques). What you see post-surgery is what you get. Oh, and don’t worry, the hair adapts to its new site. As in, you won’t be sporting a ponytail above your eyes anytime soon.
So, what do you think? I mean, you have to admit, the results are pretty impressive.