Beard Transplant: A Beginner’s Guide

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A beard transplant is a serious procedure that requires in-depth research and a significant monetary investment.  Below is an overview of beard transplants and answers to common questions.

What is a beard transplant?

A beard transplant sources hair from one body area and then is implanted into the facial hair region.  

Where do hairs come from for a beard transplant?

Hair required for a beard transplant is often sourced from the back of the head, where hair growth is thick.

Will a beard transplant look normal?

How a beard transplant will look depends on the following:

  • Donor Hair Texture: The hair added through a beard transplant will continue to have identical properties as it had before.  So if your head hair was thin and lightly pigmented, it would remain thin and lightly pigmented once it is transplanted.  This could lead to unnatural-looking results, especially if the donor hair has a contrasting texture and color to existing facial hair.  
  • Doctor Skill: A beard transplant should be performed by a trusted medical professional who is well-experienced in this procedure.  When transplanting hairs, they should expertly make a natural-looking beard shape.
  • Beard length: If you only intend to grow a stubble or short beard, the results may appear more natural-looking.  

Two primary methods for beard transplant

When considering a beard transplant, two procedures are available:

  • Follicular Unit Hair Transplant (FUT): A strip of hair is removed, typically from the back of the scalp, and then individual follicles are extracted from the graft and added to the treatment area.  FUT is quicker, cheaper, provides greater density, yet leaves scarring at the donor area.
  • Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE):  Individual hair follicles are extracted from the donor area and then transplanted to the receiving area.  Little to no scarring is visible.  FUE does take longer and is more expensive than FUT.

How much does a beard transplant cost?

The price of a beard transplant varies depending on the procedure and the number of grafts required.  A full beard transplant can cost upwards of $15,000.  Whereas filling in a patchy beard may cost $5,000.

What is the expected recovery time?

When you get a beard transplant, you can expect a 7 to 10-day recovery window.  During this process, your skin will scab and heal.  It’s recommended to take time away from work and limit your time outside of the home.

Once your skin has healed, you can begin shaving with a razor or maintaining your new facial hair as usual.

Will facial hair grow immediately after a beard transplant?

Your new facial hair will shed then regrow. This process will take a few weeks.  After the shedding phase, your beard will begin to fill out and grow.

What about the potential side effects?

There are several potential side effects when getting a beard transplant.  Common issues include the following:

  • Bleeding
  • Scabs
  • Infection
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Ingrown Hairs
  • Redness

Why do people get beard transplants?

There are few reasons why many consider beard transplants:

  • Patchy beard.  If you are a male and want to fill in a patchy beard, most transplant specialists recommend waiting until your late 20s.  Some beards may continue to fill out as you get older.
  • Alopecia Barbae. Men with this condition have small circular areas on their face with no beard growth.  This is caused by an autoimmune disorder where the immune system goes after healthy hair follicles.  
  • Scarring.  Scar tissue has a reduced supply of blood.  Therefore growing hair on this tissue may be difficult, but it is not impossible.  Some men may go through several procedures to attempt to implant facial hair on a scar with varying degrees of success.
  • Transgender.  Facial masculinization is growing in popularity with people who transition from female to male (source).  One part of facial masculinization, aside from plastic surgery, is the desire to grow a beard.  This is achieved through a beard transplant along with hormone treatments.  

Who and where are beard transplants performed?

Board-certified plastic surgeons should perform beard transplants.  The procedure is conducted in a private office and will typically be done in a single day.  

Will a beard transplant last for life?

Assuming everything goes according to plan, then a beard transplant will last a lifetime.  

What are the alternatives to a beard transplant?

Beard transplants are expensive and not for everyone.  Here are a few alternatives:

  • Minoxidil.  The active ingredient found in Rogaine, minoxidil, is clinically proven to regrow hair.  While not designed for facial hair use, many have found minoxidil helpful in filling out patchy areas.  
  • Supplements.  Men wishing to grow a full beard may experiment with a variety of beard growth products.  Unfortunately, many of these products are not scientifically proven.  A healthy diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep are more than enough to offset any benefits provided by these multivitamins.
  • Beard Growth Oils.  Topically applying a natural beard oil to your facial hair is unlikely to produce tangible results.  However, regular application of beard oil will condition and moisturize the skin.

Research is important

Receiving a beard transplant is a lifetime decision.  The procedure will significantly alter the appearance of your face.  Here are a few details to help in your research:

  • Honest feedback.  Before the procedure, ask close friends and family members what they think.  While it’s a sensitive topic, getting feedback from someone you trust will help put everything into perspective.
  • Social media. Online forums such as reddit.com/r/beards or Jefffs Beard Board are great places to find passionate men discussing all things facial hair-related, including beard transplants.
  • Legal recourse. Unfortunately, some beard transplants don’t go as planned.  Given the permanence of the procedure, what are your legal options if the surgeon does a poor job?  Read local laws, surgeon-provided agreements, etc. 
  • Search court records.  If procedures went poorly, there is likely a legal paper trail.  Search county court records for the practice or surgeon’s name.  You can learn a great deal about a poorly run business this way.
  • Location.  Sometimes the best or most trusted plastic surgeon isn’t nearby.  Don’t limit your search of specialists to a small local radius; consider all practices within a few hour drive.
  • Search for reviews.  Online reviews are only one source of information.  Search in both local and national online forums, directories, and more.  Often practices have social media channels; look through their comments and replies to spot both good and bad experiences.
  • Find at least three.  Don’t go with the first surgeon that meets your expectations.  Find at least three to choose from.  This gives you options and perhaps negotiation leverage as well.
  • Time in business.  Is the practice brand new or well established?  One that has been around for years may indicate expertise.

Questions to ask during a consultation visit

During a consultation visit, consider asking the following questions:

Pre Procedure

  • How long have you been performing beard transplants?
  • How many beard transplants have you performed in the past year?
  • Do you or someone else perform the transplant? 
  • Where did you learn how to do transplants?
  • What did you get your degree in?
  • Are you board certified?
  • Can you provide before and after pictures?
  • Can you provide references from previous patients?
  • What method of transplant do you recommend, FUT or FUE?
  • What should be done in preparation for surgery?
  • How long do you expect the procedure to take?
  • Can you provide a video of you performing a procedure?
  • What area would the donor hair come from?
  • How natural will the results look?
  • Will the procedure hurt?
  • Should I have someone come with me?
  • How many grafts are required?
  • If the surgeon is a male with a patchy beard, ask if they have considered the procedure?

Financial

  • What are the preferred methods of payments?
  • Do you offer a payment plan?  If so, what are the terms?

Post Procedure

  • What is the expected recovery time?
  • Will there be scarring?
  • What happens if the procedure doesn’t go as planned (adverse skin reactions, poor beard shape, etc.)?
  • Are changes post-procedure covered?

Intangibles

  • How does the surgeon treat his or her staff?
  • Are the staff friendly or helpful?
  • Is the office clean?
  • Is the surgeon taking the time to answer all questions?
  • Are the answers to questions straightforward and honest, or is it a sales pitch?

Final Thoughts

Getting a beard transplant is a big decision; give it careful consideration.  It’s expensive and will physically alter one’s face and scalp permanently.