Men who want to grow moustaches, goatees or full beards but cannot, you can rejoice now.
While hair transplantsare widely performed, facial hair transplants are a niche segment that is gaining popularity, said Freia Medical’s Dr Harold Ma.
The 42-year-old, who has performed close to 1,000 hair transplants, is the leading exponent here in the follicular unit extraction (FUE) technique, a low-risk minimally invasive and highly predictable procedure.
Dr Ma told The New Paper that he has treated more than 20 patients for facial hair transplants, and has seen an increase in patients in the past three to four years.His patients are typically in their 20s to 50s, and are often “educated men working as executives who want to sport neatly groomed facial hair”.
FUE is also ideal for men with “baby faces” who want to look older at their workplace or match their partners.
Dr Ma recalled how an engineer in his mid-20s lamented to him about how he was dismissed by his colleagues, and opted for FUE to look more authoritative and mature.
Another patient who had undergone sex reassignment surgery felt that having facial hair would complete his female-to-male transition.
Dr Ma said: “(Denser) facial hair can also enhance men’s features by making their chins or entire face seem longer.”
He added that facial hair frames the face well, and this is especially true for those with shorter or rounder faces.
FUE consists of moving healthy hair from an abundant area to a needy one. After applying local anaesthetic, extracted hairs – known as grafts – are usually obtained from the back of the patient’s scalp.
On the harvesting process, Dr Ma said: “You will damage the roots of a tree if you forcefully uproot it from the ground. It is the same with hair. We have to ‘dig’ around each strand to free up tissue that can sustain it.”
The grafts are then planted into micro slits made on the patient’s face using a high-precision tool. The procedure usually takes four to six hours.
Shaving and exercise should be avoided over the next week.
There is little to no pain and downtime of five to seven days. It costs upwards of $3,000, depending on the case.
Facial hair transplants at Freia Medical have a success rate of above 90 per cent.
Dr Ma said after the first month, shafts of transplanted hair will shed in what he calls the “winter phase” and leave behind a “seed”, which will germinate when the “spring phase” arrives.
Patients can then observe a 10 per cent improvement in hair growth every month until the transplant takes full effect after a year, and the results typically last 10 to 20 years.
When it comes to ideal results, he said patients “should be realistic”, adding how some men with poor hair quality still request beards like that of celebrities such as Ben Affleck.
One of his patients, a 54-year-old civil servant who wanted to be known only as Mr Tan, opted for FUE in October last year.
He told TNP: “I have been contemplating this for the past five to six years as I have always wanted to sport a beard even though my facial hair… was uneven and patchy.”
In three months, he experienced “phenomenal hair growth”, and his beard now extends to his sideburns.
Mr Tan said: “I did this strictly for vanity reasons… It boosted my confidence. I believe this is particularly good for Chinese men who are not hirsute.”