Beard To Scalp FUE Hair Transplant
Beard to scalp FUE hair transplant is a relatively new method of hair restoration that has been fine-tuned and refined in the last decade. The beard is one of the best sources of hair for men with male patterned baldness. Despite advancements in the various techniques used for hair restoration in recent years, a lack of sufficient donor hair has always presented a challenge for hair transplant surgeons. This challenge becomes even more important when we have a large area of baldness with minimal scalp donor hair. We call this situation: “hair supply and demand mismatch”.
Hair supply and donor mismatch is usually seen in these situations:
- High Hair Demand: Those with a large area of baldness that requires coverage that is often seen in advanced classes VI and VII
- Insufficient Supply: Patients with low quality donor hair and this includes patients with very fine hair of lower density in the donor areas
- Both: Patients that possess both of these limitations
Today, there are more options available to us thanks to modern FUE hair restoration techniques. Many patients who might not have been an ideal candidate for a hair transplant can now receive one thanks to the utilization of hair from other areas of the body. The use of hair from areas of the body other than the scalp can increase the hair supply that is available to restore the balding areas. Beard hair in many male patients is considered the next best option after scalp hair. Beard hair possesses many similarities to scalp hair and this makes it a great source for scalp hair restoration in many patients.
Pros of Beard to Scalp Hair Transplant
The proper selection of patients with supply and demand mismatch is very important in obtaining superior results and creating happy patients. Here are just some of the advantages of beard to scalp FUE hair transplant that can help a surgeon decide if the use of beard hair for hair transplantation is a viable option:
- Scalp Supply and Demand Mismatch – Almost anyone with this mismatch that has average, or better than average beard hair, can benefit from the extra hair that the scalp donor area cannot offer.
- Donor Hair Preservation– Using the beard as donor hair helps the surgeon preserve the donor hair on the traditional scalp safe zone for more critical areas such as the frontal hairline, temporal points and eyebrows.
- Thicker Hair Shaft – Beard hair is usually much thicker than scalp hair which helps in creating more volume in the transplanted areas. This thickness difference is quite obvious in patients with very fine scalp hair. In those patients beard hair can be used as the main source of restoring the balding areas of the scalp.
- Reducing Facial Hair– Facial hair is often considered to be unwanted in many men who have to shave on a regular basis. Even men who like to grow a beard might enjoy removing the hair from under the chin or neck area. Many of our patients happily report they spend less time shaving each day.
Limitations of Beard to Scalp Hair Transplant
Although beard hair can provide more options for men that did not have this option in the past, beard to scalp hair transplant has its own limitations:
- Sparse Beard: Some men with sparse beard hair do not have a sufficient amount of beard hair to be used as a donor source.
- Less Hair per Graft: The average number of hair follicles per follicular unit or grafts is usually less than the available scalp donor grafts. Less hair per grafts equals less coverage. Beard hair per grafts is usually closer to 1 and this number is usually around 2 or more in scalp hair grafts.
- Size Difference: Although the coarse thickness of beard hair is beneficial to some patients who need a greater bulk of hair, the coarse hair can be quite problematic in some areas where the hair is naturally finer such as the temporal points and frontal hairline. For that reason, it is more beneficial to reserve beard hair as filler to add to the coverage of the top and crown area.
- Long Resting Phase: Beard hair spends less time in the growth phase (anagen) while also staying longer in the resting phase (telogen). That means it has a lower anagen/telogen ratio which means beard hair follicles sleep for a longer time and grow for a shorter time when compared to scalp hair. Having less growing hair means there are less hairs that present themselves at any given time in transplanted areas.
- Challenging Extraction: Hair transplantation using facial follicular extraction can present some challenges. The skin in certain areas is more mobile and that makes stabilization of the skin for the extraction of grafts a more difficult process. A change in the angles of the facial hair bearing areas, as well as difficulty accessing these areas, can add to the complexity of a procedure.
Beard to Scalp Hair Transplant – How is it Performed?
- Our office has been using several extraction tools for beard hair extraction: Multiphasic motorized devices that use special modes of extraction that can be set for beard hair extraction.
- Blunt or flared punches that can help lower the transection rate of beard hair. Robotic hair extraction cannot be used for facial hair extraction due to its current design.
- Manual extraction usually gives a surgeon the highest amount of flexibility and it is also a more suitable technique for managing the angle changes and skin mobility of the face.
Beard to Scalp Hair Transplant – What to Expect
As mentioned before, there is a difference in terms of anagen/telogen when it comes to facial and scalp donor hair.
Facial hair has a longer growth phase (anagen) and stays in the resting phase (telogen) for a shorter period of time. This anagen/telogen ratio is even lower in hair on other parts of the body such as the chest and extremities. Patients should be aware that beard hair behaves differently and their expectations should be modified accordingly.
Thicker beard hair is an advantage for patients who need more bulk on the top and crown areas. This advantage can sometimes overcome the shorter anagen/telogen ratio of beard hair especially when the scalp donor hair is extremely fine.
Complications after beard to scalp hair transplant are very minimal and can include folliculitis, redness for a few days, pitting in certain areas and abscess formation in the donor area.
The beard area in a person with average, or more than average, facial hair density can provide about 3000 grafts only from the areas under the neck and chin. If a patient is willing to remove all of his facial hair, this number can be increased significantly.
Beard to Scalp Hair Transplant – Conclusions
The majority of patients who come to us with different stages of baldness have enough scalp donor hair that can support a full head of hair throughout their lives. There are others who are destined to have advanced stages of baldness. In addition, patients with scalp donor hair of poor quality might need further help.
Thanks to the minimal complications of beard to scalp FUE hair transplant, as well as its potential advantages, our hair transplant surgery centers in Los Angeles and San Francisco have been performing this technique on a regular basis. Contact us today for more information about this hair restoration technique.