Beard Transplants

Growing a stylish and full beard can be a struggle for some men, due to infrequent facial hair growth and patchiness. Beard transplants, also known as facial hair transplants, are a very similar procedure to hair transplants. Hair can be transplanted into the scalp; the same way hair can be transplanted into the facial hair follicles.

In beard transplant procedures, hair is taken from one part of the body (the donor site) and transplanted to the facial area (the recipient area) where the individual wants to have a shaped beard. There are two main techniques to get beard transplants done, similarly to hair transplants; Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE).

A Beard transplant cosmetic procedure is the most effective way to create a nicely shaped beard and enhance facial hair growth, for those men who struggle to naturally grow a beard. The most common reason why men cannot grow a full beard is due to genetic factors related to the sensitivity of the hair follicles and even the diet and lifestyle. However, some men might want to have beard transplants to cover some hairless areas due to injuries or scars.

Who is suitable for Beard Transplants?

A beard transplant is a solution for men who want to achieve permanent facial hair growth and have a full beard. The suitable candidate to have this procedure should:

  • Have healthy hair follicles in the back of their hair – as hair follicles are harvested from this area
  • Have enough follicular units for transplants
  • Not suffer from hair loss on the scalp
  • Not using any topical hair growth products
  • Be physically healthy
  • Have realistic expectations for the results

How to prepare for the procedure?

Before the procedure, the patient will have a consultation with the surgeon. The doctor will review and mark out both the donor area and the transplant area, keeping in mind: the angle, orientation/direction, placement, and density to provide the most comprehensive, natural-looking transplant possible.

The cosmetic surgeon will provide some information and instructions about what to do prior to the procedure; it is advised that the patient should:

  • Cease smoking at least 24 hours before the surgery.
  • Abstain from alcohol from 3 days before surgery.
  • Let the facial hair grow as much as possible before having the procedure – to map out the design and pattern of the new beard transplants.
  • Avoid certain medications as these may affect the procedure or aftercare process. Such medications include anti-inflammatories (at least two weeks before surgery) and aspirins (to prevent bleeding).

What to expect from Beard Transplant procedures?

There are two main approaches to performing beard transplants, the doctor will decide which one is the best approach for the patient’s case.

Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) for beard transplantation:

FUT is a hair transplant procedure that involves cutting a small strip of donor skin tissue from the back of the head and extracting hair follicles from that tissue to be transferred to the facial area that needs to be transplanted.

The steps of FUT include:

  • Local anaesthetic is used in the donor and recipient areas.
  • The surgeon will shave the hair on both the donor area and recipient areas to be harvested.
  • Small circular incisions are made where the implants will be inserted.
  • A small hair tissue strip is cut from the scalp with intact hair follicles (known as strip harvesting).
  • The cut in the scalp is stitched.
  • The hair tissue strip is divided into smaller sections using a microscope.
  • Small sections of tissue containing 1 to 4 hair follicles are grafted into the facial areas.
  • The surgeon will use all the hair follicles to shape the beard as desired by the patient.

Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) for beard transplantation:

FUE is a hair transplant procedure that involves harvesting individual follicular units directly from the donor area (usually the back of the scalp) to be implanted into tiny holes created in the facial area for beard transplants.

The steps of FUE include:

  • Local anaesthetic is used in the donor and recipient areas.
  • The surgeon will shave the hair on both the area donor and recipient areas to be harvested.
  • Tiny holes are drilled into the face where the implants will be inserted.
  • Individual hair follicles are extracted from the scalp (called follicular units).
  • The follicular units are then inserted into the tiny holes in the face.
  • The surgeon will use all the hair follicles to shape the beard as desired by the patient.

Aftercare and Recovery process

The beard transplantation procedure can last between 3 to 9 hours depending on how many hair follicles are transplanted. This procedure is a day case, the patient will be able to return home after the procedure.

The doctor will provide the patient with instructions about the aftercare and the recovery process. One day will be needed to recover from the anaesthetic and the surgery. The doctor will prescribe painkillers and suggest not to smoke or drink alcohol for a few days after the procedure.

Regarding the aftercare of the new beard, the doctor will recommend certain sprays to use to wash the beard. Tiny crusts may form around the area of each new hair follicle, although regular washing and use of the spray will reduce it and the crusts will flake off within a few days. Furthermore, 1 to 2 weeks after the procedure the hair might fall off but this is normal and the beard will grow back naturally.

More than one session might be needed to achieve the desired results. Once the adequate number of sessions is done (up to 3 sessions), the final results will be visible within 6 to 12 months.

What are the risks and complications of Beard Transplants?

While steps are always taken to minimise risks, there is still a small chance that some side effects may occur, such as:

  • Bleeding
  • Swelling, redness or tightening
  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Infection
  • Thinning of pre-existing hair
  • Keloid Scarring – an enlarged raised scar that can appear pink or darker than skin colour
  • Folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicles)
  • Necrosis – tissues are damaged or destroyed
  • FUT leaves one single long scar on the back of the head

What is the cost of Beard Transplants?

The cost of beard transplants usually depends on the number of hair follicles being transplanted. Thus, the average price of a 1000 hair follicle transplant is about £1,700. For a total beard transplantation treatment, the average cost ranges between £3,000 and £8,000.

NHS does not offer cosmetic treatments; thus, beard transplants are not available.

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