Eyebrows play an important role in framing your face. Genetics can play a role in the look and fullness of your brows — some people are born with thick, ample eyebrow hair, while others have thin, sparser hairs above their eyes. People who don’t have a lot of eyebrow hair often make them appear fuller or thicker by filling in their eyebrows with cosmetic products.
Eyebrows don’t only serve a cosmetic purpose, however — they divert moisture like droplets and sweat away from your eyes.
Eyebrow hair loss can happen for several reasons. Certain medications, injuries, medical conditions, or even taking some vitamins excessively might cause you to lose eyebrow hair.
People who have little to no eyebrow hair might want to change their appearance. In these cases, eyebrow transplants could be an option to help alter the appearance of your brows and make them look fuller.
What Are Eyebrow Transplants?
Eyebrow transplants are a procedure where a cosmetic surgeon takes a graft of hair (plug). The surgeon takes the graft with both the hair and its roots (follicle) and moves it to the eyebrow area. The hair graft is usually removed from the nape of your neck or the area around your ear.
Once the hair grafts are removed, they’re placed in a storage container with a chilled saline solution for up to an hour before they are implanted in your eyebrows by the surgeon.
Eyebrow transplants are usually done under local anesthesia, so you won’t feel anything during the procedure.
After the procedure is done, the area is left open and a crust starts to form around the newly transplanted follicles. These crusts are a normal part of the healing process and should fall off after a few days.
There can be slight bruising and swelling in the area for up to five days. A saline spray should be applied every 2 to 3 hours. It’s common for your doctor to prescribe painkillers, antibiotics, and steroids to take by mouth for up to five days after your surgery.
After the initial implantation, the newly placed hair will fall out. This is normal. Hair regrowth in the area should begin around the 3-month mark after your surgery. If some of the grafts don’t “take” or the hair isn’t quite as dense as it should be, you might be able to have a touch-up nine months after the surgery. This will depend on a case-by-case basis, and you should talk to your doctor.
Who Might Benefit From Eyebrow Transplants
There are multiple reasons why someone might need an eyebrow transplant.
Some of those reasons include:
- Burns to the eyebrow area
- Trichotillomania, when people suffer from the uncontrollable urge to pull their hair out
- Alopecia areata (stabilized), an autoimmune condition that makes your hair fall out
- Loss of eyebrows or eyelashes due to an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism)
Another group of people who might receive eyebrow transplants are those who suffer from hypervitaminosis A. Hypervitaminosis A is a condition where there are toxic levels of vitamin A in your body.
The recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin A for an adult 19 years and older is 4,300 international units (IU) per day. The upper daily limit is 10,000 IU. If you take too much vitamin A, it can be very toxic for your body. It can cause your hair to fall out.
Hair loss due to hypervitaminosis A isn’t always permanent. In some cases when people had hair loss due to hypervitaminosis A, it was corrected after the patients lowered their vitamin A intake.
Cost of Eyebrow Transplants
The exact cost of an eyebrow transplant will vary based on a few factors:
- Where you live
- How many grafts are needed
- Specifics of the surgery, such as time spent in a care facility and anesthesia needed
- If you have health insurance
- If your insurance covers all or a part of the surgery
The average cost of eyebrow transplants in the United States is $3,000 to $8,000. If you have insurance coverage, you would be responsible for any copays or deductibles.
Risks and Side Effects
Some possible complications of eyebrow transplants include:
- Some transplants not “taking” to the skin resulting in patchy hair growth
- Misaligned eyebrows due to anesthesia positioning your brows unnaturally during surgery
- Hair growing in different directions or having different textures
Rarer complications can include:
- Inflamed and infected hair follicles (folliculitis)
- Bruising and swelling
Most suitable candidates who get eyebrow transplants often see good results within the first two years. After that, the results can fade and hairs often fall out. Sometimes the results can last for years after the initial surgery. If you choose to get eyebrow transplants, be prepared for a possible touch-up procedure in the future. Other non-surgical methods of thickening eyebrows are available, including microblading which is a type of tattoo that can last for several years.