It is not unusual for men to have hair transplant surgery for male pattern baldness. Even female baldness is discussed on commercials for hair transplant clinics. A less common use of hair transplant surgery is to replace eyebrow hair. However, this procedure is quite different from other hair transplant surgeries.
It is important to replace eyebrow hair that has fallen out because it is such an integral part of the human face. People realize that men have receding hair lines and balding on the tops of their heads. It is not out of the ordinary to see a woman with thinning hair. Yet, look at a person without eyebrows and the effect will be disturbing. Eyebrows are just expected.
How Are Eyebrow Hair Transplant Procedures Different?
Some people have hair transplant surgery to their eyebrows because the hair has simply fallen out over time. Others have thyroid disease or other diseases that affect their hair. A certain type of alopecia results in eyebrow loss. Excessive plucking can be a problem, too. Burns, tattoos, and infections can cause the eyebrow hair to fall out, and some people just are not able to grow eyebrows at all.
Hair transplant surgery for eyebrows is different because eyebrows are different from scalp hair. For one thing, the hair has a distinct growth pattern with each section of the eyebrow pointing in a different direction. The hair forms a sharp angle so that it grows out and then flat to the face. Scalp hair has a much gentler angle.
Eyebrow hairs do not grow in the same type of follicular units as scalp hair. Rather than growing in groups of one to four hairs, they are simply single strands of hair. You can see this if you look carefully in the mirror at your eyebrows. Hair transplant methods have to take this fact into account.
When doctors do hair transplant surgery to replace eyebrows, they have to make sure that they put the hairs in so that they will point in the natural hair direction. For this, the surgeons use very fine gauge needles. They must also use this to help the hair to lie flat.
Because the eyebrow hair is made of individual hairs, hair transplant surgery must involve creating those single units of hair. To do this, hair is taken from the scalp, just as in other hair transplant procedures. Then, the follicular units are divided into individual hair grafts. This is done with a stereomicroscope.
Inserting these micro-grafts is a very tricky business. Creating the correct angles is difficult. If the patient does not have straight hair, her curly hair must be inserted by rotating it so that it lies even with the curve of the brow that is being made.
One drawback to eyebrow hair transplant surgery is that eyebrow hair, which usually does not grow, will grow and need to be cut because it is actually scalp hair. Also, when the wounds heal, the lay of the eyebrows may change and not be so natural.
The actual procedure is similar to a traditional hair transplant.
Eyebrow hair grafts are taken from hairs above your ears. A surgeon transfers not just the individual hairs, but the hair follicles, too. This helps to ensure that new hairs are able to grow in your eyebrows once the initial transferred ones fall out.
After you’re given a general anesthetic, a surgeon will make small incisions at the follicle donor sites, as well as at the sites of transplantation in your brows. The entire process takes about 2 to 3 hours.
Pros and cons
Proponents of eyebrow hair transplants note that the new hairs look natural because they’re your own. The procedure may also limit the need for brow makeup.
However, there are also reported downsides to this procedure. For one, it’s costly. It can also take several months until the new follicles “take” so that you see full results. Finally, there’s a chance that these new follicles won’t produce new hairs.
Cost of Eyebrow Transplants
The exact cost of an eyebrow transplant will vary based on a few factors:
- Where you live
- How many grafts are needed
- Specifics of the surgery, such as time spent in a care facility and anesthesia needed
- If you have health insurance
- If your insurance covers all or a part of the surgery
The average cost of eyebrow transplants in the United States is $3,000 to $8,000. If you have insurance coverage, you would be responsible for any copays or deductibles.
Risks and Side Effects
Some possible complications of eyebrow transplants include:
Some transplants not “taking” to the skin resulting in patchy hair growth
Misaligned eyebrows due to anesthesia positioning your brows unnaturally during surgery
Hair growing in different directions or having different textures
Rarer complications can include:
- Inflamed and infected hair follicles (folliculitis)
- Bruising and swelling
However, if you need hair transplant surgery to replace your eyebrows, it is usually a much better alternative than other choices you have. Eyebrows drawn in with eyebrow pencil do not look natural at all, and the option of going without eyebrows is unthinkable to many people. Hair transplant surgery may just be your best bet.