Everyone is different when it comes to hair growth and hair loss. Some people have thick, fast-growing hair that never falls out but struggle to grow facial hair. Other people go bald quickly but can grow a beard with ease.
While hair transplantation is a popular procedure for people experiencing hair loss, beard transplants are also available for people who are unable to grow facial hair or those who can only grow a sparse, patchy beard naturally. Beard transplants offer permanent facial hair growth and an extremely natural appearance.
Most people are familiar with hair transplants, but beard transplants are a fairly new concept in the world of cosmetic medicine. Only a few hair restoration experts specialize in the procedure, which requires advanced skill and artistry.
If you’re interested in getting a beard transplant, then you might be wondering exactly how it works. Here are the techniques a surgeon might use to create improved facial hair growth, along with more information about the procedure and recovery.
How Surgical Beard Transplants Work
Many products promise to slow down hair loss, but there is no truly effective over-the-counter solution for poor facial hair growth. Aside from hormone therapy, a surgical beard transplant is the only reliable option for people who are unable to grow as much facial hair as they’d like.
During a beard transplant, a surgeon removes healthy hair follicles from a donor site, typically the scalp. Once the follicles have been removed, they can be placed or transplanted into the recipient site, in this case, the beard area. Each hair is angled carefully for a natural appearance.
Because the follicles are taken from the patient’s own body, they will establish themselves in the new site as the incisions heal. Once healed, they will begin to grow once again and fill in to create a natural-looking beard.
Why Do People Get Facial Hair Transplants?
Facial hair transplants can allow hair to grow even in areas where it has never grown before. Beard transplants are popular among men who are dissatisfied with their natural amount of facial hair growth but can also be beneficial for transgender patients and for men with facial scarring that disrupts normal facial hair growth.
One major benefit of beard transplants is that the patient can choose their desired facial hair patterns. Hair grafts can be placed anywhere you want, giving you complete control over your new look.
If you have a naturally patchy beard, you might just want to fill in a few spots. If you have scarring that has caused your hair to stop growing in certain areas of your face, you can have grafts placed to cover them. Or, if you don’t naturally grow facial hair and wish you could grow a full beard, mustache, sideburns, or goatee, a surgeon can help you get the look you’ve always wanted.
Hair Transplant Surgery Techniques
Because beard transplants involve taking hair from the head and filling in the patient’s desired facial hair pattern using these follicles, the same basic hair transplantation techniques are used. Although hair from the head might be a slightly different color and texture from the patient’s natural facial hair, it should not be noticeable and will look very natural.
There are two main hair transplant techniques that cosmetic surgeons can use to address thinning hair or balding in men and women. They differ in how the hair follicles are extracted before being placed in their new location. After the grafts are harvested, they are placed using a universal process.
Also known as the “strip” technique, FUT stands for Follicular Unit Transplantation. During this procedure, the surgeon removes a strip of skin from the back of the head where the hair is at its thickest and closes the incision before transplanting the hair follicles. The stitches used to close the incision are removed about 10 days later.
Once the follicular unit has been removed, the surgeon separates it into individual sections to be transplanted. Extremely small incisions (around 0.5mm) are made in the area where facial hair is desired and the follicles are placed. Patients can then return home to recover and heal.
The strip incision from a FUT transplant is usually a few inches long, meaning that patients need to wear their hair long enough to hide the scar. Over time, the scar will fade and become very thin, but it will never disappear entirely.
The FUE method, which stands for Follicular Unit Extraction, is a newer technique that has become extremely popular in recent years. It eliminates the need for a linear incision, which cuts down on recovery time and scarring.
During an FUE transplant, the surgeon removes individual small clusters of hair follicles, one at a time, instead of removing a large strip of tissue from the scalp and then separating the follicles. Many surgeons use a small “punch” tool to accomplish this as efficiently as possible, but the procedure can also be performed by removing the grafts manually.
Once the grafts are removed, the technique is the same as for the FUT method. Small incisions are made in the recipient area and the follicles are placed. The only difference is in the method of harvesting the grafts.
FUE beard transplants do create a series of small, circular scars on the scalp, but these are easily hidden underneath the hair. This technique is much better than the FUT method for people who prefer shorter hairstyles.
Best Transplantation Technique for Beard Transplants
Although the FUT method is the traditional hair transplant procedure, it is not used very often anymore. Most surgeons and patients prefer the FUE technique for beard transplants for a few different reasons.
First, this technique reduces recovery time and scarring for patients. Instead of one long linear incision that might take a week or two to heal, the surgeon can create lots of little “punches” in the scalp to remove the grafts. This involves far less scarring and patients can recover from their surgery more quickly, usually in just a few days.
FUE hair transplantation also gives patients more flexibility. Some people who are interested in beard transplantation don’t want to wear their hair long enough to hide the scar and simply prefer a shorter style. With the FUE beard transplant, nearly any hairstyle should hide the tiny scars created from harvesting the grafts.
In very rare cases, a surgeon might recommend the FUT technique. This is usually only necessary when a large number of grafts are needed for the beard transplant.
Tools Used for Facial Hair Transplants
The FUT method is typically performed using just a simple scalpel to remove the donor hair. But for the FUE technique, many surgeons prefer to use advanced “punch” tools to remove individual hair follicle groups. This method can reduce scarring and recovery time while making the procedure much more efficient overall.
Designing Your Facial Hair
Many men shape their beards and mustaches carefully, shaving and waxing the hair to create their ideal look. For beard transplantation, however, patients need to know what their goals are going into the procedure. Since adding more hair after the fact would require another surgery, patients need to be clear on what they want from the procedure before moving forward.
During the consultation, your hair transplant surgeon will discuss your options with you and ask about your goals. Do you want a full beard? Sideburns? A mustache?
Remember, the more facial hair you want, the more grafts you’ll need. Your surgeon will need to remove and place more follicles to meet your expectations. That will mean a longer surgery and a more intense recovery period.
Your desired facial hair design will impact your surgeon’s plan for your surgery. Make sure to ask lots of questions during your consultation and get on the same page with your surgeon about the results you want so you can set yourself up for the best possible outcome.
Anesthesia and Length of the Surgery
Facial hair transplants are not quick procedures. Some patients will need a couple of thousand grafts to fill in their new beard. Fortunately, you won’t need to be “under” for the entire surgery.
Most beard transplants are performed using local anesthetic and sedation. The surgical sites will be numbed and you’ll typically be given an oral sedative to help keep you calm throughout the process. While it might seem strange or unsettling for you to be awake during the procedure, it’s safer and easier on your body than general anesthesia.
The more grafts you’ll need to get your desired results, the longer your appointment will take. If you want a full beard, you can expect your surgery to last up to eight hours. Your surgeon will give you an estimate of how long your procedure will take during the consultation phase, based on your goals for the procedure.
Even though you won’t be fully asleep during your surgery, you will be sedated and should not drive yourself home after your procedure. Arrange to have a family member or friend drive you home and monitor you for the first day or so in case you need help.
Recovering from a Facial Hair Transplant Procedure
Most hair and beard transplants are performed as outpatient procedures. This means that you won’t have to stay overnight at a surgical center or hospital after your procedure and can go home as soon as you’re cleared by your surgeon. You may be provided with pain medication and antibiotics to take during your recovery.
Although the procedure is not nearly as invasive as many other surgeries, especially when the FUE technique is used, you will need some downtime to rest and recover. Plan to take a few days off from work and other activities. Your surgeon may give you additional activity restrictions for a few weeks to ensure you heal properly.
You will need to avoid getting the area with the grafts wet for the first 5 days. Expect to see tiny crusts form around the incisions that will start to flake off as you heal. If you had an FUE transplant, your scalp should heal in about three days.
Don’t be alarmed if your new beard hairs fall out in the first few weeks. This is completely normal and doesn’t indicate graft failure. The hair will eventually start to regrow once the follicles are established.
The donor area may have stitches, depending on the transplantation technique your surgeon used. You should be given instructions on caring for your incisions and when to have the stitches removed, if necessary. Dissolvable stitches should disappear in about 4 weeks while standard stitches will be removed in about 10 days.
It’s very important to follow any and all instructions your surgeon provides. This is for your safety and to set you up for optimal results. If you have any questions or concerns during your recovery, don’t hesitate to contact your surgeon or get emergency medical care if necessary.
Risks of Beard Transplantation
Every surgery has its risks, even beard transplants. However, the procedure typically involves only small incisions, making recovery easy and complications rare. Since general anesthesia is not needed, this further reduces the risks.
Still, patients should be aware of all the possible risks involved with the procedure before they move forward. Some risks are inherent in any surgical procedure, such as excessive bleeding, infection, and scarring.
Other complications can include infected or inflamed hair follicles, graft failures, and poor graft placement. These complications can typically be avoided by choosing an experienced and skilled surgeon for your procedure.
Facial Hair Growth After a Beard Transplant
Patience is required after any hair transplant procedure. You won’t see facial hair growth right away after your procedure and you will probably notice that the transplanted hairs fall out initially. Don’t be alarmed if this happens—it’s all part of the process.
After the procedure, the tiny incisions containing the new hair follicles should heal within the first week. You should be given the all-clear to shave after 10 days, but you might not have much to shave for a while.
Generally, you can expect to see hair growth from the transplanted hair follicles after about 3-6 months. It can take a while for normal growth to occur and stabilize after your procedure. The “shock” from the procedure causes a delay in new facial hair growth, so you’ll need to remain patient for a while.
Hair grows in different phases, and not all follicles are active at one time. However, once your facial hair starts to grow back in, you can expect the hair to continue to grow in the new pattern that has been established.
Discussing Beard Transplant Techniques
If you think you might be a candidate for a beard transplant, then your next step should be to schedule a consultation with an experienced hair transplant surgeon. It’s important to keep in mind that although many surgeons have experience in performing hair transplant procedures, finding a beard transplantation specialist may be more difficult.
Some surgeons offer a complimentary consultation while others charge a fee, but that should not affect who you speak with. You should only schedule consultations with the most skilled surgeons to set yourself up for great results.
During your consultation, you’ll have the opportunity to find out more about the procedure and ask questions. The surgeon will also use this appointment to get to know you and to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for the procedure.
If you want to know more about the different techniques the surgeon uses, this is the best time to ask. Once you’ve discussed your goals, the surgeon will likely provide some recommendations for your treatment plan and go over what you can expect. Come prepared with a list of questions and be ready to talk about your medical history.
Your Surgeon’s Skill Matters More Than the Technique
The only difference in beard transplant techniques is the graft harvesting process. While some patients might benefit from the older FUT procedure, most patients will do best with an FUE facial hair transplant. But when you look at what’s most important, the surgeon matters more than the technique they use.
Most experienced beard transplant surgeons prefer to use the FUE method for most surgeries. However, every surgery is customized based on the patient’s goals, amount of natural hair growth, and preferences. Because of this, a FUT procedure might be appropriate in some situations.
Beard transplants are complex and challenging procedures. The grafts must be placed in the correct locations and at realistic angles to create a natural-looking result that is aligned with the patient’s goals. It is detailed, intricate work that requires a lot of finesse, skill, and experience, whether the FUT or FUE method is used.
The best way to set yourself up for optimal results is to choose your surgeon carefully. Don’t cut corners, look for a bargain, or skip out on doing your research. Beard transplant surgery is a large investment and you don’t want to end up with complications or disappointing results.
Frequently Asked Questions
Understandably, patients are excited after their facial hair transplants. They want to see new hair growth NOW. But it takes a while for the new facial hair pattern to come in.
You can expect to start seeing beard growth at around the three- or four-month mark. After the grafted follicles begin to produce new hair, you can expect to see long-lasting growth and excellent results, which you can maintain by trimming and shaving.
Human beings have a limited number of hair follicles. Generally, the hairs for beard transplantation are taken from the back and sides of the scalp, as hair in these locations is typically more resistant to male pattern baldness or thinning hair. These hairs have the best chance for success in their new location.
It’s important to remember that the fuller the beard, the more grafts you’ll need. For a full beard, a surgeon may need to harvest thousands of hair follicles. Depending on how thick your hair is naturally, it might be difficult to harvest enough grafts while leaving you with a full head of hair.
If you do not have enough hair on your scalp, then there may be a natural limit to the number of grafts available. Talk to your plastic surgeon about your goals to find out if they are realistic. Not everyone is a good candidate for facial hair transplantation, and you may need to scale back your goals if you don’t have much hair available for grafting.
Most patients can get the results they want after just one surgery. Occasionally, a second procedure might be performed to improve facial hair thickness or modify the results. However, a skilled beard transplant surgeon should be able to help patients reach their goals with just one procedure.
Female to male patients who are seeking gender-affirming surgery and/or are using hormone therapy are often excellent candidates for facial hair transplants, as long as they are in good health. A beard transplant can help patients look more masculine and boost their confidence.
Combination procedures are performed at the discretion of the surgeon. Patients who are interested in addressing both thinning hair and poor facial hair growth should note that any grafts taken for one procedure will not be available for the other procedure. If you want both a hair transplant and a beard transplant, you might need to prioritize. Which procedure is more important to you? Could you consider a less extensive facial hair pattern to allow for more grafts to be used in the hair restoration procedure? It’s also worth noting that these procedures can be lengthy, lasting up to eight hours depending on the number of grafts. If you wish to have both hair and beard transplant procedures, your surgeon may need to perform two different surgeries on different days due to time constraints and safety considerations. Ask your surgeon during the consultation.
People who do not naturally grow a lot of facial hair often want more, but the opposite can be true as well. Men with an abundance of facial hair and thinning hair on the scalp are sometimes interested in a traditional hair transplant using their facial hair follicles. It is possible to use beard hairs to restore the hair on the scalp, but each surgeon has their preferred methods. Most surgeons prefer to use scalp hair whenever possible for grafting. This is a customized procedure and scheduling a consultation with an experienced hair restoration surgeon is the best way to get recommendations for your specific situation.
One of the biggest advantages of the FUE hair transplant technique is that the scars created during the harvest process are so small. A “punch” tool is often used to remove follicular units and minimize scarring. These small, circular scars are easy to hide under almost any hairstyle, even a short, nearly shaved look. The FUT procedure does create a long, thin linear scar in the donor area. This is one of the reasons this technique has generally fallen out of favor. However, this scar can also be hidden underneath the hair, as long as the patient can wear their hair a bit longer.
Unfortunately, the body will reject hair follicles transplanted from another person. Unlike organs, which can be matched with blood type, hair grafts cannot come from someone else. You are limited to the hair that is available on your own body, as these follicles will not be rejected. Ask a hair transplant surgeon for their opinion, even if you don’t think you have enough hair for the procedure. They might have some suggestions or determine that you do have enough hair to reach your goals. If you do not have enough hair for your desired beard transplant procedure, then you may need to scale back your expectations or accept that you are not a good candidate for the procedure.
Healthy adults of all ages routinely undergo beard transplant procedures. However, younger patients will need to keep in mind that they might experience thinning hair in the future and eventually want a hair transplant. If you are young and decide to get a facial hair transplant, those grafts will not be available in the future.
Yes, typically. When scar tissue forms, it does not contain any hair follicles. Therefore, if you have a scar of any kind, even an acne scar, facial hair may stop growing. Beard transplants can create new growth in these areas and fill them in for a more consistent beard. If you only need to cover a little bit of scar tissue, you shouldn’t need very many hair grafts for your procedure.
Shaving your hair prior to the procedure may or may not be required by your surgeon. In some cases, they may be able to shave only certain spots and cover them with the rest of your hair. However, shaving the entire scalp can make the process much easier and more efficient. It can also reduce the cost overall and may be required if you need a large number of grafts to reach your aesthetic goals. Ask your surgeon what they recommend. Remember, existing hair grows back! It’s probably not the end of the world if you have to shave for your procedure.
By using hair that is resistant to hair loss, hair transplant surgeons can create long-lasting results. As long as the follicles are active, you will see natural hair growth! Facial hair transplants are considered permanent for this reason, though there are no guarantees. Choosing an experienced surgeon is extremely important for getting natural-looking, long-lasting results. These doctors can determine which donor areas will be best for harvesting good-quality grafts and have the ability to create incredible results for their patients. Looking at before and after pictures, talking to former patients, and learning as much as you can during your consultations will help you choose the right surgeon for your procedure.
Once you have healed from your procedure and your new beard starts to come in, you can style your facial hair in any way you want! Grafted hairs from the scalp look very natural when placed as new facial hair. Whether you like a shorter style or a longer beard, you can shave, shape, or trim your beard in any way you’d like. It’s still your hair—it’s just been relocated. Don’t overthink it and just have fun!
About Dr. Anthony Bared
Finding the right surgeon to help you achieve your facial hair goals can be a challenge, as very few hair restoration specialists have experience in beard transplants. Because of this, it’s best to choose an authority in the field, like Dr. Anthony Bared.
Based in Miami, Dr. Bared is a double board-certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon specializing in hair transplantation. He is dedicated to each of his patients and uses his skills and experience to create natural-looking results. Patients who work with Dr. Bared feel comfortable throughout the process and feel more confident in their own skin after they see their results. Dr. Bared was trained by the world’s top hair restoration experts and has pioneered many exciting transplantation techniques. He specializes in beard transplants and offers patients incredible results that boost their confidence and self-esteem. Call his Miami office today at 305-666-1774 to schedule a facial hair transplant consultation.