Experts are warning Australian men not to put a thick beard ahead of their health and safety, as thousands flock overseas seeking cheap beard transplants.
It might sound unusual, but with the hipster-inspired beard craze in full swing, Medigo data shows a 600 per cent increase in beard transplants worldwide between 2004 and 2014.
Some Aussie men say they are interested in the medical procedure because they wanted to fill in patchy facial hair or completely alter the shape of their beard.
Those seeking some stellar face fur travelled mostly to Thailand for the procedure, a destination also renowned for cheap dental work and cosmetic and plastic surgery.
The cost of the work in Thailand will start at about $3,000 for less than 1,000 grafts of hair – you’d need about 700 grafts for a full goatee and 350-500 for a moustache.
Australian clinics offer the same service, but it will cost about $4200 for beard fill-ins and up to $10,000 for a full-beard, depending on the procedure.
Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) president Tony Kane urged Australians to think very carefully before committing to cosmetic surgery procedures, whether in Australia or overseas, and to inform themselves of all possible risks and possible consequences.
“Our message is to ‘think over before you make over’,” Dr Kane says.
“We are concerned that increasing numbers of Australians are having cosmetic procedures without fully understanding the potential risks and, importantly, without properly investigating the qualifications of the person undertaking their procedure or the facility in which it’s being conducted.
“Despite a growing number of reports in the media of poor or disastrous outcomes, and sadly, even deaths, people are still rushing into cosmetic surgery with little consideration for their safety, often putting financial considerations ahead of their health.”
Medigo data suggests the transplants left men feeling more masculine – and they were right – with the study also showing two-thirds of women wanting to date a bearded man over a clean-shaven one.
The most sought after beard or moustache combo was the George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Zach Galifianakis, and Hulk Hogan lookalikes.
But it’s not just hipsters who want to grow great beards – some people were also using the procedure as part of their transgender transformation.
How is it done?
Medhair Transplant Clinic in Melbourne says the process was no different to a scalp transplant.
The procedure involves transplanting hair from the head into micro-incisions in the face and donor hair can be used.
The surgery can last between two and five hours.
The procedure is not limited to the beard and a procedure can be done to achieve a full beard, goatee, moustache or sideburns.
For the first 10 days after the surgery, patients will be advised to refrain from shaving the transplanted hair. During this period, your transplanted hair will look more like a stubble.
The transplanted hair will eventually fall out about two weeks afterwards, which will pave way for new hair growth to come on the third or fourth month from your surgery date.
From then on, you keep your new scruffy look or shave it whenever you want.
Are there side-effects?
If patients follow the after-care guidance given by their beard transplant specialist, side-effects are minimal.
However, since a transplant is a surgical procedure, patients can expect some general tenderness, redness and low-level swelling to occur in the facial area after surgery, Medhair Transplant Clinic in Melbourne says.
The transplant is permanent, so you do not need to worry about losing your new facial hair.
If there are physical reactions this could be to the surgery itself contact your surgeon of GP right away.
Apart from being a cosmetic change, a beard transplant can also conceal scarring, such as acne, or trauma like burns, the clinic said.
Medigo connects people to overseas medical clinics for a range of procedures.