A beard transplant is a method of hair restoration in which the surgeon transplants beard hair to the scalp using follicular unit extraction techniques (FUE) and tools. Beard transplants can also refer to any procedure that reconstructs a new beard, or enhances an existing beard – for these reconstructive beard surgeries, the surgeon transplants scalp hair to areas of the face as needed on a case-by-case basis. Using beard hair as a restorative method is not used by many clinics, and is generally considered a fringe procedure.
In most hair transplants, the surgeon will remove hair from the back of the scalp – known as the donor zone – and transplant it to wherever it’s needed. Hairs from this region of the scalp seem particularly resistant to hair loss, and are usually hardy enough to withstand the transplant.
Not all patients, however, have enough hair in the donor zone, and some may not have any scalp hair at all. For these situations, body hair derived from the arms, legs, and chest is be the next best alternative. Again, not all patients have this type of hair either. For these cases, facial hair can be removed and transplanted to other areas of the scalp.
Beard hair transplants may work on patients with male pattern hair loss (MPH), but not with other types of alopecia. Patients with alopecia universalis, for example, have no hair on the entirety of their body, and thus are ineligible for this type of procedure.
Though research is limited, one official beard transplant study followed thirty-five male subjects for three years (2005-2008) after they had a combination of both beard hairs and body hairs transplanted onto the scalp. The study finds that beard or body hairs should not be used on the temples or to reconstruct the hairline, as these hairs are naturally finer and less coarse. Beard hair, however, provides a thicker and denser coverage than body hair, and was also better than body hair at concealing scars.
Successful, realistic beard hair transplant results mostly depends on the natural characteristics of the recipient site hairs, meaning that if the patient’s scalp hair is short and curly, then the beard hair will blend in well. If the patient has long straight hair, however, then using solely beard hair on spots with no natural scalp hair would only highlight the textural inconsistencies, and ultimately look unnatural. For this reason, a combination of beard hair and scalp hair yielded the best results, even in patients with predominately straight hair.
Sometimes males will have beard hairs that are a different color than their scalp’s hairs. Transplanting beard hair to the scalp under these circumstances would highlight these discrepancies in color, and is therefore not recommended.
Beard hairs will not change or adapt their physical characteristics to match those of the recipient site hairs, meaning beard hair will not grow softer, finer or longer. No amount of time will change the beard hair’s physical traits.