Beard To Scalp FUE Hair Transplant
Despite the rapid growth in both the quality and efficiency of hair restoration surgery techniques, a lack of sufficient hair available to be transplanted has always presented a challenge for hair transplant surgeons. I like to describe this situation as “hair supply and demand mismatch” and it is often seen in these patients:
- Those with a large area of baldness that requires coverage that is often seen in advanced classes VI and VII
- Patients with low quality donor hair and this includes patients with very fine hair of lower density in the donor areas
- Patients that possess both of these limitations
We have 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 reserve that is available to restore the balding areas. For example, beard hair in many male patients is considered to be the next best option after scalp hair. Beard hair possesses many similarities to scalp hair which 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 hair transplant that can help the surgeon decide if the use of beard hair for a hair transplant 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 is quite obvious in patients with very fine scalp hair in which beard hair might be used as the main source of restoring the balding areas of the scalp.
- Less 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 that they spend less time shaving each day.
Cons of Beard to Scalp Hair Transplant
Although beard hair can provide more options for men that did not consider this opportunity in the past, beard to scalp hair transplant can provides its own problems and limitations:
- Some men with sparse beard hair do not have a sufficient amount of beard hair to be used as a donor source.
- 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.
- Although the coarse thickness of beard hair is beneficial to some patients who need a greater amount of bulk, the coarse hair can be quite problematic in some areas where the hair is naturally finer such as the temporal points, eyebrows and frontal hairline. For that reason, it is better to reserve beard hair as filler in the top and crown area.
- Beard hair has a lower anagen/telogen ratio which means beard hair follicles spend less time in the growth phase (anagen) while also staying in the resting phase (telogen) for a longer period of time. This also limits the number of hairs that present themselves at any given time on transplanted areas while also minimizing the advantage of keeping transplanted hair to cover other areas,
- 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:
- 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.
- Some motorized tools that use blunt punches might be helpful in lowering the transection rate of beard hair. Robotic hair extraction cannot be used for facial hair extraction due to its current design.
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 expectation 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 only provides about 3000 grafts from the areas under the neck and chin. If a patient is willing to remove all of his facial hair, this number can be doubled.
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 poor scalp donor hair quality might need further help.
Thanks to the minimal complications of beard to scalp hair transplant, as well as its potential advantages, our Los Angeles hair transplant surgery center has started to use this technique more often in the last few years. Contact us today for more information about this hair restoration technique.