Beard to Scalp Hair Transplant

With the rise of new and more efficient methods of hair extraction through FUE hair transplantation, more options are becoming available to us for expanding the donor hair reserve of balding patients.  Extracting hair from a beard or facial hair extraction can give us a generous source of quality hair that could be used to restore scalp hair.

Advantages

Scalp hair transplant using facial hair might be a great solution for the patients who have a mismatch of donor hair supply and recipient demand.  This is often seen in advanced stages of hair loss with very limited and poor quality donor hair. Men with male pattern baldness who have good quality donor hair usually have an adequate number of grafts to restore all or most of the balding areas.  However, when donor hair is fine with low density we generally don’t have enough hair to cover the entire head.  Fine hair provides minimum bulk after transplantation.  Unlike scalp hair, beard hair is usually much thicker.  The thicker hair shaft provides more volume after the transplant which is crucial for people with recipient/donor mismatch.

Facial hair is considered unwanted in many men who shave their faces every day and removing it won’t make any difference in their faces. Many men report spending less time shaving their faces on a regular basis which is a plus for them.

Limitations

Men with limited and sparse beard hair do not have an adequate supply of hair.

Facial hair has a thicker shaft that can provide more volume after transplantation.  However, the number of hair follicles per follicular units is generally limited.  For example scalp hair follicular units usually have more than 2 hairs per graft while the number for beard hair is less than 2 and closer to 1 in many cases.   Facial hair follicular units mostly have single and occasionally two hairs.

The thickness of beard hair in comparison to scalp hair provides better volume in the transplanted area. However, the coarse hair may not be the best options for temples and front hair restoration.  In many cases, beard hair is better used in the top and crown area and in between other scalp hairs.

Techniques

Beard and facial follicular extraction can be more challenging than a traditional procedure.  The facial skin is more mobile in comparison to the scalp skin and the facial hair angles are usually steeper.  These elements make the harvesting from the facial area challenging.  Many of the automated and robotic techniques of hair extraction are designed for scalp and are not capable of harvesting facial hair. Manual hair extraction has been the most versatile and practical method of harvesting facial hair.

Results

Facial hair stays in growth phase (anagen) for long periods and goes to resting phase (telogen) for a short time in comparison to hair from other parts of the body.  This means that every transplanted facial hair is going to have a growing hair follicle most of the time.  This allows facial hair to stay in place for a longer time and grow a longer hair shaft which adds to the bulk of transplanted hair.  Thicker hair shaft of beard hair also provides more volume in the transplanted area.

Conclusions

Although many bald patients have enough permanent hair to restore their full head of hair for the rest of their life, some may not have an adequate number of grafts for a complete hair transplantation.  Facial hair can now provide a great source for the patients who have limited scalp hair or very large balding area to be covered.

Beard area in an average man allows a hair transplant surgeon to harvest about 3000 grafts only from the areas under the chin and neck.  This is if the patient does not want to have a significant change in the appearance of their facial hair.  The number of harvested hairs could be much more in men who want to lower the density of their facial hair or get rid of their beard completely.  Although facial hair has less hair follicles per graft, the good thickness of the facial hair shafts can provide a better bulk of hair when transplanted to the scalp, which creates the illusion of greater density.