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Physician Answered Q & As

Can The Beard Be Used As Donor Hair For a Sideburn Hair Transplant?

Is it possible to take the donor hair from the beard area. I don’t have any donor hair left, and need a new side burn. -Steve

Dear Steve,

It IS in fact possible to harvest donor hair from the beard, but there is still a good chance that the wisest and best course of action may be to take it instead from the back of your scalp. There are two different ways to harvest beard hair: The older method was to cut out an eliptical strip from under the chin and then dissect this strip into individual FU grafts, but the drawback is that this method leaves a thin scar under the chin; so this method is only to be used if the man is absolutely committed to keeping a beard in that area of the face for the rest of his life, which makes the scar undetectable. Another probably better way to harvest beard hair is by “FUE,” or folliicular unit extraction, a procedure in which the surgeon uses a very small punch around 1mm in diameter and cuts into the very superficial skin surrounding the follicular unit, then follows up with a dull punch, which carries the dissection bluntly down the sides of the FU without cutting the follicles. The FU graft is then gently “plucked” out of this site, and the holes heal up beautifully in just 4-6 days and are hard to detect very soon thereafter.

As with most questions related to hair transplantation, there is nothing better than for an experienced hair surgeon to actually examine you in person, look and compare the texture, color, and character of the hair in your beard, on the back of your head, and also whatever hairs may presently exist near your sideburn area. If your beard hair is snowy white, as some are, and the hair on your scalp is dark and you intend for your sideburns to be dark, then that is a big point in favor of using the scalp donor hair. If your sideburn hair is very coarse and slightly kinky/wavy, then there’s a good chance the beard donor hair may be the better choice. I should add that FUE is a little easier from a technical standpoint when the scalp or chest hairs are used, since both have a firm bony structure immediately under them, giving the tissues some resistance during the procedure. The soft, curved contours of the beard make it a little more challenging area in which to do FUE. The transection rate may be a little higher than FUE done in the other two sites. Incidentally, I don’t think chest hairs would be that well suited for sideburns for a host of reasons I won’t go into here, not the least of which is that they have a short anagen (growth) cycle and a fairly long telogen (hibernation/rest) cycle.

So the answer is that beard hairs can indeed be used, but only if you first are examined by an experienced hair surgeon who can judge whether this is the best course of action, given your unique hair characteristics in the various areas.


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