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Hair Transplant News & Features » Non-Scalp Hair Restoration

Non-scalp hair restoration growing in popularity

Eyebrow, eyelash and facial hair restoration procedures see increase

For many people with thinning scalp hair, proven medical therapies and hair restoration procedures are widely available, and there are good options to restore hair loss and slow future loss. However, for people like 37-year-old Denise Goolsby of Virginia Beach, Va., who noticed that her eyebrows started thinning in her 20s, knowing where to turn for help was considerably more difficult.

"I always had fine eyebrows, so when I noticed them getting thinner I tried tattooing as a first step, but it only made the problem worse," Goolsby said. "It got to the point where I actually had no eyebrows left, and it became too much to deal with to pencil them in with cosmetics every day."

After doing more research, Goolsby found Edwin Epstein, M.D., a Virginia Beach hair restoration surgeon who performed hair restoration surgery on areas of the body other than the scalp, including the eyebrows.

"Eyebrows are an important part of our appearance, without which our facial symmetry appears unbalanced," said Dr. Epstein, past president of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS). "Thanks to the great strides made in hair restoration surgery over the years, there are now a number of procedures available to restore all or part of the eyebrow."

In Goolsby's case, tiny single hair follicular units from a donor area at the back of her head were transplanted to the eyebrow area in one outpatient procedure. Dr. Epstein noted that donor hair is selected based on whether the hair has the appropriate texture and orientation to serve as eyebrow hair when transplanted. The transplanted hair grows slowly over the course of several months, and Goolsby's eyebrows were fully grown within 6 months. As the transplanted hair will continually grow over time, the eyebrows will need to be trimmed regularly.

"My new eyebrows look great, and it's so refreshing not to feel self-conscious about them after years of trying to cover up the noticeable hair loss," said Goolsby.

Dr. Epstein added that non-scalp hair restoration is a good option for most patients with hair loss, but patients should consult a hair restoration physician to discuss whether a certain procedure is right for them.

According to statistics released from a recent member survey conducted by the ISHRS, 92.8% of hair transplant procedures performed in 2010 targeted the scalp area and 7.2% of procedures targeted non-scalp areas of the body - including the eyebrow (4.4%), face/moustache/beard (1.5%) and eyelash (0.6%) areas. From 2008 to 2010, hair restoration procedures performed on the eyelash, eyebrow and face increased 14.2%.

Source: The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, 11/14/11