Have you always wanted a thick full beard but just didn’t have what it takes to grow one? Despite all your hard efforts, the facial hair just doesn’t grow.
Well, there are options out there that can give you that full facial hair and perhaps the most controversial of them all – yet guaranteed to be one of the more effective ones – is the beard transplant.
In this article, you will learn everything you ever needed to know about facial hair transplants, and I mean everything when I say it.
We are covering topics like the costs included, what the process is like, what are the pros and cons of moving hair from other parts of the body to your face, and what sort of risks and side effects are generally involved.
Now, let’s take a look into the World of controversial beard surgery. ↓
Table of Contents
What is a Beard Transplant
Beard transplants are exactly what the name implies; hair transplanted from another part of the body, into the facial hair area.
Most commonly, this hair for beard implant comes from the patients back of the head or from under the chin if there’s any visible growth there.
The hair on the back of the head is easier to collect, but it’s also slightly different in structure and harder to match.
So does the surgeon simply pluck out individual hairs and somehow apply them back into the face?
No, not quite.
Instead, the surgeon cuts out the whole hair follicle in what is known as the “follicular unit micrograft”.
These micrografts contain a little bit of subcutaneous fat at the bottom, the full hair follicle structure including the sebaceous glands, and anywhere from 1 to 5 individual hairs.
Once the micrograft has been removed from other parts of the body, the surgeon will carefully transplant them into the bald spots in your facial hair area.
This process is extremely difficult and requires the steady hand of an experienced hair transplant surgeon. Not only does the micrograft need to be attached permanently to the face, but the beard transplants also need to go in at a correct angle so that the growing hair aligns properly and looks natural.
The average male has roughly 5000 to 7000 hair follicle micrografts available for the beard transplantation procedure. However, roughly 3000 micrografts will often suffice for full coverage and even less if you’re looking for smaller beard transplants such as the goatee or even just mustache.
Different Types of Beard Implants
Beard surgery is somewhat of a new thing which is snowballing in popularity. The procedure has come a long way from the ’90s when the first successful facial hair restoration surgeries were conducted.
However, the two most common types of beard transplants remain as:
- Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE): is the most commonly done beard transplant option that involves the surgeon or a motorized device harvesting the hair grafts (complete follicle structures) one-by-one from the donor area.
- Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT): means that the surgeon cuts out a small strip of tissue which has multiple hair follicles in it from the donor location, closes the edges of the wound, and removes the hair grafts from the piece of skin that was removed.
When it comes to scarring, FUE is considered the superior method as it leaves only small unnoticeable white circle-shaped scars behind, whereas the FUT method leaves behind a much larger singular scar to the donor area.
The FUE beard transplant is also considerably less painful than the FUT method, and many patients report little to no discomfort at all.
The only thing where FUT comes out on top is the fullness of the transplanted beard. Since the harvesting process includes cutting of a small strip of skin filled with beard follicles, there are usually more grafts which can be transplanted to the face, resulting in more facial hairs and eventually a thicker looking beard.
All-in-all, the follicular unit extraction (FUE) method of beard transplantation is more common and often most recommended. It can be done by either a seasoned surgeon or by a motorized puncturation device, but due to the human surgeon’s muscle memory, tactile feel, and mastery of the tissue resistance, many argue that the speed increase that comes with the puncturing machine is simply not worth it.
Why They’re so Popular Right Now
Aside from the pogonophobic mainstream media that never forgets to remind us all how “beards are going out of style” and “how dirty men’s beards are“, I guess we can agree that beards have always been kind of in style.
Nowadays, the popularity of facial hair is probably higher than ever before, thanks largely to the “hipster beard revolution” that started a few years ago.
One of the best methods of measurement for the snowballing popularity of growing or wanting to grow facial hair is the beard transplant industry, which has grown explosively in the past years.
Just in the UK alone, over 4500 men undergo beard transplant surgery every year, and beard transplant surgeries are currently more than three times as common as nose jobs.
According to The Register, from 2004 to 2014 the number of beard transplant procedures increased by a whopping 600%.
These stats are completely understandable. Men who can’t grow beards at all or suffer from patchy beard growth know all too well what the grasp of beard envy feels like, and beard transplant is a quick – albeit expensive and controversial – solution to the problem.
Beard Transplant Pro’s and Con’s
- You will get a beard that you always wanted.
- You can shave and trim as normal, the beard grows back.
- Beard transplant boosts your confidence and looks.
- According to studies, bearded men are more attractive.
- The beard surgery overall causes very little pain.
- The recovery time from a beard transplant is quick.
- Facial hair transplants are expensive, up to $7,000 in fact.
- Even just scheduling a consultation can come up with a $100-300 fee.
- Getting a beard transplant is incredibly hard to explain and justify to others.
- Every cosmetic surgery – even beard transplantation – can go badly wrong.
Beard Transplant Alternative that Works
Most guys who decide to get a beard transplant, never realize that there are alternative methods out there that will also help you grow the beard, which won’t involve going under the surgeon’s knife.
Sure, if you ask the mainstream media, your average dermatologist, or directly from a hair transplant center, you can be sure that they will always say that beard growth is purely genetic and that there is no other way to get a beard from scratch than a facial hair transplant.
Well, there is.
And I’m not going to say the usual “this beard oil moisturizes well, therefore it helps with growth…” nonsense; I’m talking about something that will actually help you turn your silky smooth cheeks into active beard sprouting grounds.
The best and fastest beard transplant alternative that works just as well for most guys is minoxidil (also known as Rogaine). I’m talking about literally purchasing either Kirkland 5% minoxidil or Rogaine 5% minoxidil and applying that on your face twice per day at the recommended 1-2ml dose.
Using the hair-loss drug on your facial hair area for 6-12 months will give most guys a full beard, and as long as you will wait until the hairs turn terminal, the gains will be permanent.
These are not just claims made out of thin air either…
There are over 50,000 men sharing their minoxidil beard journey on the Minoxidil Beard Spot Facebook group, more than 7,000 guys talking about and documenting their progress on the r/minoxbeards Reddit sub.
If the anecdotal stories and before-afters won’t convince you, I’m also glad to inform that there’s a well-done minoxidil beard study which proved that minoxidil solution was safe and effective for stimulating facial hair growth in men when compared to placebo.
And the results of that study were impressive for sure…
You can further enhance your natural beard growth rate if you combine minoxidil with micro-needling the beard.
This is done with a product called Derma Roller / Beard Roller; a handle with hundreds of tiny needles that create micro-punctures on your facial hair area. The body then responds by shuttling fresh blood filled with nutrients, hormones, and collagen to the scene, further aiding the work of minoxidil.
Lastly, you may also add in a supplement called L-Carnitine L-Tartrate, which enhances the sensitivity of androgen receptors (allowing more testosterone & DHT to bind the beard follicles) and also increases the energy production rate of the hair-matrix by shuttling fatty acids to the mitochondria (more about those in our beard supplements post).
If you don’t want to take the fast route of minoxidil + beard roller + carnitine, you may also try increasing your natural testosterone and DHT production (here’s an amazing course for doing just that).
This method is certainly slower – but since DHT and testosterone are the hormones that trigger facial hair growth in men – increasing your levels will eventually result in thicker, faster, stronger beard growth.
Of course, you can fast-track the hormone boosting process with hormone replacement therapy or steroids, but honestly, we don’t recommend that. Minoxidil or even a beard transplant would be the safer routes to take.
So wait a minute… You’re telling me there’s all these underground – yet proven – methods of growing facial hair just as effectively as a beard transplant would, and with just fraction of the costs and no surgery involved?
Yes. I know it sounds unbelievable when you learn about this the first time, but really, a beard transplant is NOT your only option.
The only reason you haven’t heard from things like minoxidil for beard growth is that the age-old “genetics is the only thing that determines beard growth” claim is so strongly rooted in our society.
If beard transplant would be the only method of getting a beard from scratch, then tell me, why are there nearly one hundred thousand men sharing their stories of using minoxidil for their beards?
And why has this group of people been only increasing in the past 10-years or so?
That’s food for thought.
Now, I’m not saying this to bash beard transplants – those are effective for sure – and for some men, they’re a worthwhile option.
And I’m not saying minoxidil would be the perfect alternative either. It has known side-effects (albeit usually pretty mild ones) and a small percentage of men can’t properly convert topical minoxidil to the active minoxidil sulfate in their facial hair follicles; making them non-responders to its effects (you can learn more about that on our minoxidil beard FAQ).
All I’m saying is that if someone claims that a $7,000 facial hair transplant is your only option, then they are either absolutely ignorant about what is going on around the beard-o-sphere, or they are flat out just lying to you.
Yes, Beard Transplants are Expensive
I’ve mentioned it a few times already, but man, beard transplant surgery is expensive.
Of course, the price depends on the coverage you want; a full thick beard will obviously cost more than a soul patch or a goatee.
Just a mere consultation of whether you should even do it can run at $100 to $300, that’s enough to give you a few years worth of minoxidil, which would eventually grow you a full beard without even needing to undergo the surgery at all.
If you want to do it after the consultation the cost for an average full beard transplant cost can be as high as $7,000.
That’s a hefty sum to pay for facial hair. Sure, the benefits of having a beard are priceless, but seven thousand bucks for a beard transplant is still a hefty sum to pay…
Especially when you could use some Kirkland 5% minoxidil for a year or two at maximum and walk away from it with a permanent full beard.
But hey, if you want your full beard and you want it now without having to wait, then yes, with a sum anywhere from three to seven thousand dollars (depending on the country, surgeon, and transplant type) is the average price you have to pay for a beard transplant.
The Safety & Risks of Beard Implants
Every surgery has a risk of complication. Facial hair implants are generally seen as “relatively safe” things to undergo, however.
Still, we can’t label them completely risk-free.
For instance, think about the fact that the surgeon has to first remove 3,000 to 7,000 hair grafts from the donor area (usually from the back of the head) and then apply them back into your beard area, one at a time.
There’s a chance of the graft going in too deep, causing further issues with ingrown beard hairs and inflammation.
Not to mention that the surgeon has to make sure that all the hairs he/she attaches go in with correct direction so that it aligns naturally and looks real.
Going to a cheap and inexperienced practice can mean that your beard will be forever ruined by hairs growing in all possible directions, looking completely unnatural.
This is why it’s important to choose an experienced and well-documented practice with expert surgeons, high-quality before-after pictures, and real testimonials.
Aside from cosmetic risks, beard transplant surgeries are considered safe to undergo. The chances of serious health risks are extremely low, and the process itself is low in pain and has a relatively fast recovery time.
Are you thinking of getting a beard transplant?
If so, we hope that this article showed you the differences between FUE and FUT beard transplants, and helped you understand the price and possible alternatives to the procedure.
Is getting a beard transplant worth it?
If you’d ask my humble opinion, I would say that a beard transplant is not worth it in most cases (especially knowing the current alternatives out there), but I can certainly understand the rising popularity and demand.
After all, who wouldn’t want a mean looking beard?