In 2018, actress Meagan Good went public about her eyebrow transplant, sparking mainstream interest in this increasingly popular hair restoration procedure. Much as with scalp hair transplants, surgery to restore eyebrows to a full, youthful appearance has been discretely sought over the years. Today’s more open attitude is encouraging women to explore this permanent, aesthetically pleasing solution to the ongoing frustration of dealing with sparse brows. Here’s what you need to know about eyebrow transplants to make the right decision.
Why do eyebrows thin?
Eyebrows thin for a number of reasons. Among women, overplucking is a leading cause. The trauma inflicted on hair follicles during tweezing – as well as waxing and threading – can lead to permanent damage of the hair follicles, causing them to die out. The effect can show up as thinning areas, bald spots and loss of the “tail” of the brow. While the thick “Instagram brow” is now popular, pencil-thin brows were the trend during the ‘90s – resulting in women who followed suit then unable to grow their brows back now.
Coinciding with the overzealous eyebrow grooming practices prevalent when Christina Aguilera was topping the charts are the hormone changes that come with age – with the same factors that sometimes cause female pattern hair loss in the scalp contributing to thinning brows. Aside from hormonal changes, even the aging of hair follicles themselves can lead to scalp and eyebrow hair looking thinner and more sparse.
Thinning brows are also a common side effect of other conditions, such as atopic dermatitis – better known as eczema – due to inflammation and itching around the brow area. A dermatologist can recommend medications and topical treatments to help. Low thyroid hormone levels, also extremely common in women, are a common cause of the loss of eyebrows, particularly their “tails.”
Other common causes include chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy treatment; scarring or skin trauma; or trichotillomania – a self-harming behavioral trait that involves tugging or pulling at the hairs in the brow.
The problems with tattoos and microblading for sparse brows
As covered in our April 25, 2018 blog post – “No More Pencils – Your Guide to Eyebrow Transplants” – so-called “permanent makeup” tattoos intended to achieve the effect of natural brows have notable drawbacks. They do not convincingly replicate the look of individual brow hairs, and eventually fade, creating a blotchy, even more artificial appearance.
The recent surge in popularity for microblading positions this procedure as a desirable semi-permanent solution. Microblading is a cosmetic tattooing procedure that fills in thin eyebrow areas to make them look fuller. The process uses a hand-held device containing small needles. The esthetician uses short strokes to apply a pigment intended to replicate the appearance of brow hairs. Unlike a traditional tattoo, the pigment lasts from one to two years, with a touch-up needed a few weeks after the initial procedure.
However, there are risks. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the color additive substance of the pigments used in microblading. Poorly trained estheticians, improper sanitation procedures and unsterile tools leading to infection – including HIV and hepatitis B and C – are other serious pitfalls. Photos of botched results are easily found online, ranging from unflattering, uneven shapes and faded tinting to scarring and infection.
When done incorrectly, microblading cannot be easily concealed, and the client will likely have to pay additional costs to manage complications and correct the procedure as best as possible.
The benefits of eyebrow transplants
Foremost, surgical eyebrow restoration has the benefit of being a permanent solution. Instead of just attempting the illusion of natural brows, they’re real, using your own hair. It is an in-office procedure performed under local anesthesia, after which the patient can resume normal activities. Keep in mind that post-surgical care instructions regarding the donor and recipient sites must be carefully followed to prevent complications and attain the best possible result.
Tempus Hair Restoration – our eyebrow transplant process
Though eyebrow transplantation is not a new procedure, not every hair restoration practice has the experience to perform at the necessary high aesthetic level to achieve a pleasing, natural-looking brow line and fullness. In fact, many experienced hair transplant doctors do not offer eyebrow procedures to their patients, due to its technical complexities and the fact that patients usually have very specific goals for the look of their eyebrows. Dr. Marco Barusco – founder and Chief Medical Officer of Tempus Hair Restoration – is a board-certified surgeon who is internationally recognized as a leader in hair restoration. Dr. Barusco himself conducts every consultation (which is always free) with each patient to study their hair loss, and discuss the patient’s treatment goals and options.
For those seeking a full restoration of both brows, Dr. Barusco works with the patient to recreate the brows in a natural contour, outlining the eyebrow area to complement the individual’s facial characteristics.
Once the desired shape, width and thickness of the brows have been discussed – marked by Dr. Barusco and approved by the patient – the surgical procedure itself is very comfortable for the patient. After the patient receives local anesthesia, the donor hair graft is harvested from the scalp, with preference for the temporal areas, where the hair quality is more compatible to eyebrow hair (finer, more delicate hairs). Grafts are carefully selected to achieve the appearance of natural eyebrow hair once transplanted. The individual follicular units are then extracted and treated to ensure they remain healthy and viable when inserted at the recipient site.
Dr. Barusco’s technical skill and artistic eye places each hair in keeping with the angle and direction of natural growth – a critical factor for the natural look of any hair transplanted, particularly the eyebrows. As a Fellow of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) and Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS), his experience and credentials are unmatched in making Dr. Barusco uniquely qualified to perform eyebrow restorative surgery. Not to mention that he has been a Diplomate of the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery since 2001 and served as its President in 2017.
Depending upon the individual, both the donor and recipient areas will take up to seven days to heal. The brow hairs will shed after about two weeks. A growth cycle will become established over the next three to six months, during which the new eyebrows will grow out. Because they grow longer than natural eyebrows, they’ll need to be trimmed about once a week or more often, depending on the patient.
Other situations appropriate for the effects an eyebrow transplant can achieve
Eyebrow transplants offer a solution for those who want to conceal scarring in the brow area, as well as transgender individuals seeking fuller brows for a more masculine appearance.
Whatever one’s reason for considering an eyebrow transplant, the ultimate goal is to achieve a balanced appearance and enjoy the self-confidence that comes with the ability to live according to the image or identity you want to present to the world. Whether that self-image is youthful, healthy or whole, brow restoration can help you put your best face forward.
Choose your surgeon wisely
If you’ve decided to take this step, perform your due diligence. Research the qualifications and experience of those you contact for a consultation. Again, the precision necessary to achieve the best possible aesthetic results depends upon the experience and skill of the surgeon – who should be performing the procedure, never an assistant or technician. The disclaimer “under the medical direction of” that many clinics use should be a red flag that someone other than a surgeon will be performing this exacting procedure. There are certain parts of the procedure that are considered by many State Medical Boards as “non-delegable” and their delegation to non-licensed professionals is considered a Felony crime in many states.
Speaking of Christina Aguilera, recent photos show her with a fuller pair of eyebrows. Did she, or didn’t she? The pop star doesn’t have to go public as Good did with her eyebrow transplant, if that were the case. It’s just a matter of personal choice. And if you choose to pursue an eyebrow transplant, be sure to find the best, most qualified surgeon who can achieve the trouble-free, permanent results you want for a natural appearance.