Success Rate of Facial Hair Restoration – Is There Visible Scarring With FUE?
What is the success rate of facial hair restoration and is there visible scarring if I use FUE? How long is the procedure and how long does it take to heal?
If we define success as survival of grafts, facial hair grafts do as well as hair transplant grafts placed in the balding scalp. The key determinant for survival of hair transplant grafts to the face or elsewhere is the technical delicacy with which the grafts are prepared, stored, and handled during insertion. With proper attention to these details nearly 100% of the grafts will survive and go on to produce living hair over a lifetime.
Grafts for facial hair transplantation can be obtained either by strip harvesting (FUT) or by extraction of individual follicles (FUE). With the strip method there is a fine linear scar left. This almost always has no cosmetic significance if the scar is in an area where hair is worn 1/4 inch or longer. FUE leaves tiny pinpoint scars which do not show if hair is shaved in the area of harvesting.
FUE would be the preferred method of harvesting for a facial hair transplant if the area to be treated is not large or if beard hair is going to be used for donor grafts. For example if a patient simply wants to fill in defects in a moustache or beard FUE can be used to extract grafts from the beard area under the chin where the tiny pinpoint scars will be least evident.
We also need to define success of facial hair transplants in terms of the naturalness of the result. It is essential that the donor hair is similar in caliber and texture to existing facial hair. If not the result can look unnatural. This is not a problem in the case of a patient with no facial hair (such as a transgender individual) because the scalp donor hair will be uniform. The result will also not look natural unless there is exquisite attention to hair angle and direction. Facial hair has subtle changes of direction and angle on different part of the face. The transplanted facial hair must be aligned precisely and if there is a natural curve to the hair this curve must be consistent with existing facial hair as well.
It order to prevent any scarring to the skin where the grafts are placed the receptor incisions for the hair transplant grafts have to be as tiny as possible and exactly the right depth so as to avoid any pitting or bumps on the skin. The way we accomplish this is to measure each patient’s donor graft hairs in width and length and use custom made micro-blades that fit perfectly.
It takes about 7 to 10 days for the facial skin to heal to the point that treatment is not evident. For a few patients there may be some residual pinkness that takes another 2 to 4 weeks to resolve, Patients can use hypoallergenic cosmetic after one week. Letting the beard grow at the time of surgery can help to hide treatment in the first week. Extreme care must be taken when shaving around the new grafts in the first 10 days post facial hair transplant.
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The International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons is a consumer organization that selectively screens skilled and ethical hair transplant surgeons. The IAHRS does not offer an open membership policy to doctors practicing hair transplatation, and is the only group that recognizes that all surgeons are not equal in their skill and technique. Its elite membership seeks to represent the best in the discipline, the true leaders in the field of surgical hair restoration.