Society’s expectations of men have always been high. No matter what their challenges, men are expected to be strong and silently shoulder any burden. But this expectation – which men often internalize – can be deadly when they neglect their health – including mental health. In 2003, a group of men dedicated themselves to raising awareness of men’s health issues, and launched the non-profit Movember Foundation. Since that time, its signature Movember fundraising campaign has featured the fun challenge of growing a mustache during the month of November.
While Movember’s emphasis is on upper lip hair, facial hair in general has made a major comeback over the past several years. The clean-shaven look prevalent throughout most of the 20th century has given way to a wide range of individual expression through beards of all lengths and configurations. Ironically, this trend harkens back to the 19th century, when beards were prevalent and unadorned faces rare. Yet for men who yearn to grow a full beard – or goatee – but nature isn’t cooperating, a facial hair transplant is an option that (when performed by an experienced hair restoration surgeon) provides a satisfying, natural-looking result.
The Growing Demand for Facial Hair Transplants
As reported by the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS), studies indicate that “… men who grow an unshaven beard are perceived as older, more masculine, and more dominant and aggressive, and attract more positive female attitudes than those men whose face is clean-shaven.” Bearded men also are seen as more intelligent – as evidenced by the popular culture stereotypes of psychiatrists, college professors and scientists depicted with beards.
ISHRS is a global non-profit medical association and the leading authority on hair loss treatment and restoration. Dr. Marco Barusco – founder and Chief Medical Officer of Tempus Hair Restoration – is a Fellow of the ISHRS. This is a distinction that is only given to those who achieve certain landmarks on teaching and leadership. Currently, fewer than 10% of the ISHRS members are Fellows.
Based on the statistics of the ISHRS 2020 Practice Census, facial implants (beard and mustache) increased 196% worldwide from 2012 (4,707) to 2014 (13,956), and 121% from 2014 to 2019 (30,957). While all components of a beard are important, the highest ranked features included strong goatee (15.8%) and strong cheek beards (15.8%).
“They are becoming much more common,” says Dr. Barusco. “Everybody wants a full, even beard.”
As for what type of facial hair his patients most frequently seek, Dr. Barusco says the most common requests are for a goatee and cheeks – which aligns with the ISHRS’s findings. “Many men can grow a satisfactory mustache, but often the mustache does not connect with the goatee, or they have sparse hair on their cheeks and can’t grow a full beard.”
Why Can’t Some Men Grow Facial Hair?
As our blog post – “Facial Hair Transplants – Getting the Best Beard and Mustache” – reports, genetics is the reason, but not because there’s a gene that suppresses facial hair growth. The facts are more complex. Men start to develop facial hair – which is regulated by testosterone – during puberty, and it doesn’t fully mature until their early 20’s. The interaction between testosterone and the hair that already exists causes it to grow thicker and darker.
While thick beard growth is commonly attributed to a high testosterone level, the truth is that most men actually have about the same level of this hormone. What makes the difference in facial hair growth is how one’s body responds to testosterone – which is genetically determined. Being highly sensitive to testosterone results in more facial hair. On the down side, it contributes to baldness.
Who is a Candidate for a Facial Hair Transplant?
According to the ISHRS, patients who are typical candidates for facial hair transplantation include:
- Those who have a total absence of hair or low density from birth with spaces in the beard.
- Those who have scarring hair loss due to burns, injuries, acne, cleft lip corrective surgery or any other type of surgery.
- Female-to-male transgender patients, to create a more masculine appearance.
What Does a Facial Hair Transplant Involve?
As with hair transplants to the scalp, a facial hair transplant may be performed as a Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) or Follicular Unit Excision (FUE). Which procedure is used depends upon the area to be covered. For large areas, hair is harvested from the same donor site as that for a hair transplant. This provides an advantage for those who want to grow a longer beard. Dr. Barusco describes the procedure in greater detail in a video for his YouTube video channel, Hair Loss Medical Advice.
The hair for facial hair transplants is typically harvested from the sides and back of the head, which are the same areas used in normal hair transplant surgery for bald and thinning areas of the scalp. The difference is that the hair removed is usually from lower down toward the neck, where the hair quality is more compatible to that of facial hair. This includes planning the angle and direction of hair for the most natural looking results. Dr. Barusco understands how hairs from different areas of the body behave, and has the skill and artistry to harvest those that are the best match, and ensure the hair follicles are angled correctly when transplanted.
“The challenges with transplanting into the face are many,” says Dr. Barusco. “From a technical standpoint, the most crucial is the angle and direction in which the hairs have to be placed to produce a natural result that will allow the patient to grow it long, if they so desire.
“Another aspect of the facial hair transplant is the donor area selection. Most of the time, we use scalp hairs from the safe donor zone, and the patient may need these hairs in the future, should they develop male pattern baldness. This factor becomes more important because most of the patients looking for facial hair transplants are young men. If the area(s) to be filled are small and few grafts are needed, we may use beard hairs, which are usually harvested from under the chin, as the source of donor hair.”
In his experience with facial hair transplant patients, Dr. Barusco has found that sparse growth and patchy growth are equally prevalent conditions – and normally coexist in the same patient, who can have areas of sparse growth (defined as a low density of hairs), as well as areas where the beard is patchy.
In another Hair Loss Medical Advice video, Dr. Barusco focuses on one case study of a 44-year-old male who wanted a fuller goatee and to better connect the goatee with his mustache. The video includes photos of the pre-op planning process and the final results one year later.
More About Movember – What Men Need to Know
We began this blog post about the purpose of Movember, and the importance of men taking charge of their health and well-being. Donations raised in behalf of the Movember Foundation go to fund groundbreaking health projects to make a difference for mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.
As Dr. Barusco emphasizes educating people about a variety to topics relating to hair loss and hair restoration through his YouTube channel, we highly recommend taking time to watch “Movember, Finasteride for Hair Loss and the Post-Finasteride Syndrome” – which is given to the prevention and early detection of prostate cancer. His candid discussion includes a recommendation for regular prostate examinations, and ties it in with the use of Finasteride –a standard medication used for hair loss and prostate enlargement – and its potential side effects.
Not only do men need to be there for their loved ones, they need to be there for themselves – and each other. Movember’s message is “Whatever you grow will save a bro.” And you don’t need to feel left out if your ‘stach needs Dr. Barusco’s help. All kinds of mustaches are welcome to join the cause! According to the Movember website, “Patchy, lopsided, itchy or epic – whatever Mo you grow this Movember, your face will raise funds and awareness for men’s health.”
Considering a Facial Hair Transplant? Choose Your Surgeon Wisely!
While Movember doesn’t judge participants on the basics of their mustache’s aesthetic quality, you may want to have your “A-game” mustache ready for next year’s event. But regardless of the type of facial hair transplant you’re considering, the surgeon you select will make a significant difference in its success, and your satisfaction with the results. A transplant can be technically correct – that is, the surgery involved no complications, and the hair follicles survived and thrived – yet fall short of the appearance you want because the hairs weren’t placed correctly, or without consideration of your ethnicity.
Just as Dr. Barusco takes into account the ethnic background of hair transplant patients in order to achieve the right aesthetic effect, he does the same for facial hair transplants. Beard growth and density is different for men of different ethnic groups. Indian and Middle Eastern men tend to have denser beards, while Caucasians and men of African heritage have good density and more hair in their beards than Asian men. It is important for the surgeon performing a facial hair transplant procedure to achieve the aesthetically appropriate result that truly represents and respects your heritage.
We invite you to schedule a free, no-obligation virtual consultation with Dr. Barusco. His long list of accomplishments, his notable artistic ability and his successful surgical team make Tempus Hair Restoration a renowned practice. Contact us to schedule your free virtual consultation. Dr. Barusco conducts every consultation himself, giving you the opportunity to learn your options in the comfort of your home – or any location, on any internet-enabled device.
Dr. Barusco conducts consultations in English, Spanish and Portuguese. For your greater convenience, Tempus Hair Restoration offers a two-night complimentary hotel stay to out-of-town clients who travel 100 miles or more to our Port Orange, Florida, surgical center. No matter how far the distance, we welcome the opportunity to help you on your hair restoration journey!