Eyebrow Transplantation: Cautionary Tales
Eyebrow hair transplants are popular, especially among women. A few weeks ago, the Toronto star had a great article on eyebrow transplants that further caught the attention of many. In parallel to the increasing number of women having eyebrow transplants there is has been an increase in the number of women having transplants who shouldn't be.
Taking a step back before having eyebrow transplant.
Many women are good candidates for eyebrow transplants - but a small proportion are definitely not. This week alone I saw 6 patients who had eyebrow transplants sometime in the past a various centers around the world- who came into my office with one question - "why didn't it grow out like I imagined it would?"
Here's a few cautions for anyone considering eyebrow transplants. If these statements sound like you, step back and pause.
1. I have complete eyebrow loss
Women with complete eyebrow loss "might' be a candidate for a transplant but absolutely need to see a dermatologist first. Alopecia areata and frontal fibrosing alopecia are two conditions that can lead to eyebrow hair loss - and don't respond very well to hair transplants. Hair loss from these conditions can sometimes look similar to age related thinning. Simple rule: if you have complete eyebrow loss, get a proper diagnosis. Don't assume you've over tweezed, or that your thyroid abnormality caused the loss - just assume you need to see a dermatologist.
2. I lost my eyebrow quickly and need a quick solution
The ideal candidate for eyebrow transplants is someone who lost their eyebrows slowly - through years of over tweezing or slow age related thinning. Individuals who lose their eyebrows over a 6 month to 12 month period are usually not good candidates - they need to see a dermatologist to figure out what is going on.
3. I am looking for a single procedure only.
An eyebrow restoration is a delicate process. Transplants of the scalp can often be accomplished with one procedure - but such a statement is inaccurate for the eyebrows. There are few areas of the face so important as a properly designed eyebrow. One must expect to have at least two procedures to make the eyebrows look amazing. The first procedure is designed to build the density and create the basic framework. I nearly always recommend a small touch up to finalize the brow.
4. I want my eyebrows to look like Cara Delevingne
I encourage patients to bring in photos of individuals whose brows they admire. This is helpful to understand the features they are looking, the density, the shape. The most popular photo to be brought in, by far, is that of British model Cara Delevigne. Together with my patients, we've studied all the angles, directions and positioning of the estimated 1000 eyebrows that make up Cara's 2 eyebrows. But is this shape and density appropriate for everyone? Not at all. The appropriate shape and structure of the eyebrow depends on an array of factors including the patients eye structure & surrounding orbital bones, their facial symmetries, their cheek bones, nose, forehead and chin. I encourage patients to bring in many photos - but the most important photo of all - is a photo from their own past.
Eyebrow restoration is delicate work. The first step for anyone deciding whether to have a transplant is figuring out if they are a candidate a not.
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Vancouver office at 604.283.9299