None today, hair tomorrow as men opt for hair-raising beard transplants
DUBAI // Young men struggling to grow more than a few wispy patches of hair instead of a full beard are opting for Dh15,000 plastic surgery to plug the gap.
Beard transplants are in particularly high demand in Europe and North America, where young men with the chin fluff of Keanu Reaves or James Franco strive to emulate the bushy facial hair of George Clooney or Zach Galifianakis.
Now the Middle East is experiencing one of the highest growth rates in facial hair surgery. Dr Samir Al Ali of Maxim Hair Restoration in Dubai said it was due to hipster fashion also becoming popular. “Before it wasn’t that fashionable,” he said. “But now it’s really popular, and everyone wants a full beard.
“Even teenagers as young as 15 come looking for a beard, when they notice their facial hair is not that homogenous.”
He treats about 15 people a month, about half of whom want facial hair transplants.
Dr Al Ali said he normally did not treat people under 20 because their bodies had not yet finished developing.
The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery compiles statistics from around the world based on number of procedures and type.
The Middle East experienced a 34 per cent growth rate between 2010 and 2012, the second highest in the world behind Europe.
Although facial hair transplants constitute only 1.5 per cent of procedures around the world, there has been a boom in the number carried out in the Middle East, with an increase of 263 per cent in the same period, from 280 in 2010 to 1,017 in 2012.
“Beards have always been an icon of masculinity,” said Dr Riad Roomi, a specialist plastic and hair restoration surgeon at the You New Plastic Surgery Clinic in Dubai.
“That’s the case among all nationalities or religions.”
Beard implantation can take between six to eight hours per patient, depending on how many hairs are required and which technique is used.
The hair is typically taken from the back of the head, or alternatively from the chest, if the patient is particularly hirsute, said Dr Roomi.
Each follicle is implanted individually and, after a few weeks, they operate exactly as natural beard hair. They can be shaved and they will grow back naturally.
“Some people remain clean-shaven even after the procedure,” said Dr Roomi. “They just want that bluish tint to their cheeks.”
Dr Al Ali normally charges a minimum of Dh8,000 for beard transplants of about 500 hairs, and Dr Roomi said procedures normally start at about Dh15,000. However, prices vary widely depending on the needs of the patient.
Beard culture is a growing phenomenon. There are dozens of online forums such as Jeff’s Beard Board, where men with titles including Beard Titan and Beard Legend talk unabashedly about grooming products and cosmetic surgery.
But the popularity of beards is itself a double-edged sword. Researchers at the University of New South Wales, in Australia, claimed we may now be at “peak beard”. They found that as there was a greater preponderance of facial hair, attractiveness of men with beards gradually began to fade.
Despite that, there are people from all over the world who are determined not to be left out of the current trend. Dr Roomi is often approached by men from Far Eastern countries seeking facial hair transplants.
“If you look at pictures of Indonesians, Malaysians or even people from China – they’re not very hairy,” he said.
“So while I do get people from America and Europe, I sometimes get Far Eastern people, too.”
Updated: August 28, 2014 04:00 AM