If you're reading this, you probably have some inkling of the benefits of beards. Studies show that bearded men are perceived as more masculine, more mature, and even physically stronger.
But not every man is blessed with naturally lush facial hair. Some are resigned to that.
Maybe you're not. So what are your options?
#1. What Is A Beard Transplant?
A beard transplant takes hair from another part of your body (usually the base of your scalp at the back, or under your chin) and transplants it to your face.
An average of 4,000 to 7,000 hairs can be transplanted one by one. Some surgeons may use two hairs per graft to give a more natural appearance to the beard.
It's a delicate job – the surgeon has to get each individual hair to point in the right direction.
Most guys who get beard transplants do it to cover up scars, but a growing minority are doing it just to get a great beard.
#2. Pros & Cons
What's Good About A Beard Transplant?
1. Total Control
You can choose your beard style just like you choose your hairstyle – look at pictures of different types of beards, bring one to the clinic and your surgeon will beard you up to match it.
#2. Sex, Love, And Respect
Several studies show that many women find men with facial hair more attractive. In a 2013 study, women rated men with stubble as the most attractive sex partners and men with full beards as the most masculine and the best potential fathers.
Takeaway: stick to stubble until you're ready to settle down – then grow the beard.
But we don't just want to win the hearts of women, we want to win the respect of other men. The study found that men too see men with beards as the most masculine.
Studies also show that men with beards seem stronger than other men and provide a sense of security.
#3. Minimal Pain
The incisions made on your face are so tiny they don't hurt more than a small pinch.
#4. Minimal Recovery Time
You'll probably have to take a sick day for the transplant itself, which can take up to five hours. After that, the worst you can expect is a few days of slight swelling and redness.
#5. You Can Shave And Style Your Beard As Normal
Your new hair follicles will be permanently grafted in, so your beard will look and function like anyone else's.
What's Bad About A Beard Transplant?
#1. You’ll Sacrifice Hair From Elsewhere
In many cases, the hair used for beard transplants comes from the back of your scalp. However, the surgeon only takes every fifth hair, so while it may look slightly thinner, you won't have visible bald patches.
#2. Beard Falls Out In 3 Weeks
Don't get too attached to your new beard – because in 3 weeks it won't be attached to you. However, this is a normal temporary side-effect and your hair will grow back fully during the time frame set by your doctor.
#3. It’s Expensive
A beard transplant from a reputable clinic costs between $5,000 and $15,000.
You can find cheaper, but please do your research and don't let any cowboy surgeons near your face.
Some clinics charge per session, others per graft (so the total cost is the number of grafts times the price per graft). The price-per-graft model is fairer because some patients require more grafts than others.
Some clinics also charge a consultation fee of up to $300. The consultation involves seeing a dermatologist to determine why you’re unable to grow facial hair. The upside of this cost is that you might find out how to grow a beard without a transplant.
#3. Types Of Beard Transplants
The most common procedure used for beard transplants is Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). The surgeon will remove individual hairs (in their follicles) from a donor region and graft them wherever you want your beard filled in.
The procedure takes 2-5 hours and will leave only tiny circular scars where hair follicles were removed. Some clinics perform it manually, while others use mechanical aids. This type of transplant has a faster recovery time than other options, and most people who undergo it report little or no discomfort.
The other main type of transplant is Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT). This is when a surgeon takes a strip of tissue from another area, stitches up the wound, and transplants the hairs on it. This leaves a long but very fine scar.
Although FUT takes slightly longer (both to perform and to recover from), it also generally results in a fuller beard because more hairs are transplanted overall.
#4. How To Choose A Clinic
Choosing a skilled surgeon and clinic is vital to get a natural-looking result. Here are 12 things you need to check before putting your face in their hands.
#1. Training: All reputable hair transplant surgeons trained under established experts often mention these figures on their website or bio.
#2. Experience: FUE takes time and regular practice to master. Find out how many years your surgeon has been doing it for and how many patients they have helped.
#3. Technique: If you prefer a specific type of method, such as manual FUE, make sure your surgeon is experienced in that particular technique.
#4. Specialization: Surgeons who just specialize in hair transplantation tend to have more experience and knowledge than those who offer a range of services.
#5. Industry Reputation: Check if your surgeon is a member of organizations like the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgeons (ISHRS) or the International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons (IAHRS). This will show that they have a reputation for competence and are up to speed with the latest advances.
#6. Good Staff: It's not just about the surgeon – finding a clinic with a knowledgeable, friendly, and educated staff is a must.
#7. Consultation: Make sure the clinic offers consultations to help rule out underlying conditions that may be affecting your beard growth. They should also check your hair density with an advanced program of some sort, so they can calculate the number of donor follicles you have available and the number of transplants you'll need.
The best clinics know that not everyone is a good candidate for a beard transplant. Be wary if they push you to make a quick decision, particularly if in exchange for a discount.
#8. Good Instruments: Ideal FUE punches are so sharp they cannot be re-sharpened. If your clinic cuts corners by reusing punches, your results will suffer. Mechanical tools also need to be of high quality and well maintained. Ask about the instruments they use and their manufacturer.
#9. Before And After Photos: Most clinics will have a gallery of these.
Good clinics will use high-resolution photographs, intense lighting, and no photoshop. Blurry or dark photos mean they have something to hide.
#10. Patient References: Your clinic may offer past patients as references, but don't be too quick to trust them – some clinics bribe patients to provide good references.
Online patient reviews of the clinic will be more honest, but be aware that it's often the patients who got good results who post reviews. Patients who are unhappy with their results may be too embarrassed.
#11. Surgeon Does Most Of The Work: Experienced surgeons who care about their patients’ results will do most of the work themselves so you benefit from their training and skills. They'll only ask a nurse or tech to fill in when they need a break. Unscrupulous surgeons will dump the whole job on their staff. Always ask the surgeon how much they personally commit to each procedure and the surgical staff’s roles.
#12. Extra Treatments: Good clinics usually offer treatments such as blood serums to augment your results. These can spur faster recovery, faster activation of transplant follicles, and quicker growing, thicker hair.
Doing all this research may seem daunting, but it's well worth the effort. Good beard transplants last a lifetime… so do bad ones.
#5. What To Expect Before And After
You'll be asked to take a few precautions before surgery, such as not taking any medication that contains aspirin 10 days before the transplant. You should also not take anti-inflammatory medications or drink alcohol three days before the procedure.
Taking a vitamin C tablet once a day for a full week before the transplant will aid the healing process.
Now here's the part that may hurt more than the surgery… NO caffeine on the morning of your transplant. It can increase bleeding and sensitivity to medications.
There are some beard transplant side effects, but nothing serious. They may include:
- Mild bruising
- Sensitivity at the donor and recipient sites
- Ingrown hair
Small crusts will form around the newly transplanted hairs. If the crusting lasts longer than a week, you may want to contact your surgeon. Many surgeons advise not washing your face until the crusts have fallen off.
The doctor may prescribe you an antibiotic that prevents infection in the donor area. You might also get an antibiotic ointment to apply.
Beard transplant recovery is typically problem-free with little or no pain. Visible signs of the procedure usually subside within a week, and you can typically start shaving again a week to 10 days after the transplant.
If you do decide to shave it, make sure you shave your new hair properly. Avoid using shaving gels or creams containing alcohol because this can dry your skin out, leading to razor burn and irritation.
If you can, source men's shaving products made with natural ingredients like Aloe Vera Leaf Juice and Menthol. Your skin will thank you for it.
Tip – get your shaving products in a bundle or kit. You'll save time and money and you'll know each product works interchangeably with the other.
Don’t be concerned if your new beard begins to fall out after two to three weeks. It’s a natural part of the process. By three months it should all have grown back.
In very rare cases, the first hair graft won’t “take” and a second transplant may be needed.
Bonus: Alternatives To Beard Transplants
#1. Minoxidil (Rogaine)
Minoxidil has FDA approval and thousands of men have reported excellent results from it. But it isn’t a permanent solution like a beard transplant.
Minoxidil was invented to lower blood pressure; boosting hair growth was an unexpected side effect.
It stimulates blood circulation in your follicles, which delivers more hormones and nutrients to the hairs.
There are three phases of hair growth – Anagen, Catagen, and Telogen. Hair only grows during the Anagen phase is when the hair grows. Minoxidil lengthens this phase so your hair grows more. This may be enough to transform you from a babyface man into a handsome beardsman.
Minoxidil also stimulates an enzyme called prostaglandin synthase-1 via the immune system. Many scientists believe that hair loss has a connection with changes in the immune system.
Minoxidil comes in several forms. Liquid is the original form, but foam is the most popular. It’s more expensive than Minoxidil liquid but dries twice as fast.
The catch is that you need to keep applying it – in most cases, twice a day – and it does have some minor side effects. These include:
- Dry skin – especially when using the liquid version.
- A fast or irregular heartbeat
- Weight gain
- Lowered blood pressure – not a big surprise, given it started out as a drug to treat high blood pressure. Just be careful that your blood pressure doesn’t dip too low. Also, don’t use it instead of your regular blood pressure medication.
#2. Beard Growth Supplements
You can buy supplements that have a mix of vitamins that may boost beard growth and also improve its overall density and quality. A beard supplement isn’t meant to grow hair where there is none, but to help your existing hair grow.
One of the key ingredients is biotin, which both helps your beard grow and prevents it from falling out. Vitamin C and zinc are other important ingredients.
You can also try beard oil, beard shampoos and washes, and beard sprays, which will help your beard become healthier and may help deal with patchiness.
#3. Lifestyle Changes
Your beard is attached to the rest of you – so a healthier man means a healthier beard.
Diet, exercise, stress relief, and sufficient sleep can all help.
If you're eating a healthy diet you probably won’t have to take a beard supplement to get all of the vitamins and minerals you need. And losing weight boosts testosterone – which aids the formation and growth of facial hair.
Exercise also boosts testosterone, increases blood flow to your hair follicles, and helps you sweat out any toxins and waste products that might be clogging them up.
Finally, you're probably going to hate this one, but you need to be getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Less than that LOWERS testosterone, as well as leaving your body too tired to bother growing a splendid beard.
#4. Hormone Therapy
You've noticed testosterone is a theme here. If your lack of beard growth is due to a hormone deficiency, a qualified medical person may prescribe hormone pills, creams, or injections. There are some health risks attached to hormone therapy, so make sure that you know what you’re getting into, and have been cleared by a doctor to receive it.
In conclusion, having a beard transplant isn't the only way to deal with a lack of facial hair, but it is a permanent, proven solution that's growing in popularity all over the world. If you do decide to get a beard transplant – please do your research and choose a reputable surgeon who can give you the beard you want.