Eyebrow Transplant Surgery: What is it, How it Works, and Risks
There’s really not a lot that a woman (or man!) wouldn’t do for their physical appearance. Hours in the gym, monthly facials and scalp treatments, and of course, semi-permanent tattooing such as eyebrow microblading or embroidery, eyeliner tattooing, and lip blushing. Eyebrow transplant surgery is another such procedure that can help to enhance appearances by giving you eyebrows Cara Delevingne would be proud of – or maybe just a pair that suits your face perfectly.
How Does Eyebrow Transplant Work?
How Does Eyebrow Transplant Work?
The anatomy of an eyebrow is divided into the front (head), body (from the head to the arch), and tail (from the arch to the end):
- Head – The portion nearest to the midline of the face, it points upwards for 0.5–0.7cm and is usually lighter than the body of the brow. A natural yet full looking brow usually has this part lighter to prevent a stern look.
- Body – This is the central 2.5cm part, and is the densest and widest. Hairs point upwards and laterally. As it draws towards the arch, the highest tip of the brow, hairs begin to point downwards.
- Tail – This is the outer 2cm, leading from the arch and begins to thin out towards the tail end. Again, similar to the head, a natural looking brow will be less dense in this area. As ageing happens, this area may become less pronounced.
An eyebrow transplant is a cosmetic procedure where hair grafts are transferred from ‘donor sites’, usually taken from the scalp, to your brow area which is the ‘recipient site’. The goal of eyebrow transplantation is for new hairs to grow from these transplanted grafts, producing a full-looking brow shape.
Eyebrow transplant is similar to the hair transplant procedures used for male or female pattern hair loss, and facial hair transplant! Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) or Follicular Unit Excision and Extraction (FUEE) is a minimally-invasive technique that can be used for growing thicker brows as well. The steps involved are:
- Consultation – The consultation will have two main aims. Firstly, it is to determine the shape of the eyebrow according to the patient’s preference and doctor’s input on which may suit their facial features best. Secondly, a consultation helps to identify which part of the donor area will be chosen to remove hair grafts from. This needs to resemble your eyebrow hair as closely as possible to look natural. The number of grafts that will be needed will also be determined.
- Procedure: Removal of grafts from donor site – After administration of local anaesthesia, eyebrow hair grafts may be taken from hairs above your ears or from another suitable scalp site. Hair follicle units are removed by using a harvesting punch machine that does not damage the hair follicles, which are analysed under a microscope first. An extraction of high density single hairs are important to give a good result.
- Procedure: Implantation of grafts to eyebrow – Small incisions are made in the targeted eyebrow areas, and implantation of those hair follicles are made meticulously by a certified hair surgeon. The direction of the hair also matters. The head of the eyebrow will have upward pointing hairs, and moving toward the body and tail of the eyebrow, a more chevron shaped direction of hairs are used. The entire process takes about 2 to 3 hours.
Post-Procedure – The recovery time is relatively quick, but a healing time of up to 1-2 weeks should be given to ensure the grafts heal well and do not fail. Up to 3 weeks of excessive physical exertion should be avoided, and any scabbing should be left to fall off on its own. It is also normal to experience hair fall from the transplanted areas over the first few weeks. It does not mean the graft has failed, it just means that the hair follicle is going through the normal hair cycle and moving into the growth phase again. Full results will be seen from 6-12 months.
Who Eyebrow Transplant Surgery is Suitable For
Eyebrow transplant surgery is suitable for those who:
- Have scars on the eyebrow from injuries or burns which have damaged hair follicles permanently
- Have overplucked their eyebrows, resulting in permanently thin brows
- Naturally and genetically have thin eyebrows and would like to change their shape/density
- Are looking to enhance the shape or density of the eyebrow!
On the other hand, it may not be suitable for those who have:
- Alopecia areata – An autoimmune condition that causes hair loss, you may need to address the underlying cause of this first before deciding on any hair transplant surgery.
- Trichotillomania – A mental health condition causing excessive plucking of hairs from the head, eyebrow, and eyelashes. This may need to be treated by a mental health practitioner before eyebrow transplant techniques are considered.
- Bleeding disorders – Excessive bleeding or slow clotting disorders may not be suitable.
- A history of complications related to cosmetic surgery – If you have had previous complications to aesthetic or cosmetic surgery, this needs to be brought up in your initial consultation with your doctor.
Cost of Eyebrow Transplant
The cost of FUE eyebrow transplantation at Terra Medical Clinic is $7000 (excluding GST) for full eyebrow transplantation (both eyebrows).
Smaller procedures such as small scars are charged at $7.50 per graft, excluding post-operative care package and prevailing GST.
Is it Permanent?
Eyebrow transplant surgery and its results is a permanent solution, as long as the donor hair follicles are healthy and the graft has healed well. It may last for many decades. As with all ageing processes, hair follicles are not immune to ageing, even transplanted ones! Natural thinning may occur over time with advanced age or sudden medical conditions.
Are There Any Risks or Long-Term Side Effects?
Despite being a shorter procedure than a full hair transplant surgery, eyebrow transplant procedures still come with minor risks associated with the surgical procedure of removing and transplanting skin tissue, and with hair growth. Among them are:
- Bruising around the eye and brow region. This is temporary and will go away over a short period of time. Medication is typically prescribed to each patient after the procedure to limit the swelling and bruising that may occur.
- Hairs that are transplanted into the eyebrow may take on a slightly coarse appearance as compared to your existing brows, especially if your brows are naturally very thin. This is because hair growth may take on the appearance of the hair that was transplanted from the donor site, which may be slightly thicker. However, the transplanted hairs on your face may start to take on the characteristics of their surrounding hairs after a few cycles, although it may take some time.
- Hair growth may be up to 1cm per month, similar to hair taken from the donor site. This is unlike brow hair, which has limitations in their growth. As such, an individual may need to trim their brows every month to the length and shape they prefer.
- It can also take several months until the new follicles “take” while the hair follicle moves through the hair growth cycle again. Full results will be seen from 6-12 months.
- Rarely, there is a chance that these new follicles won’t produce new hairs. This depends on your body’s ability to accept these donor hairs in their new recipient areas (the eyebrow). For a small number of people, the recipient site ‘rejects’ the grafts and hair growth does not occur.