Beards are cool. If you don’t believe so, ask your neighbor — you know, the chain-smoking dude who wears knit ski hats in the summer and rides his bike everywhere in the winter. He can tell you from experience how cool beards are. And now, he’s got the stories to back it up.
That’s right: Facial hair transplantation is on the rise. Dr. Jeffrey Epstein, a New York City-based plastic surgeon, told England’s Daily Mail that he performs about three procedures a week, taking healthy hair follicles from the head and transplanting them to the face with micro blades. It’s most commonly performed on the chin and upper lip areas (for goatees and mustaches) though it can easily work for sideburns and cheeks, too.
As crazy as it might seem as first, the trend toward hair transplantation has been around for quite a while. Men especially fear going thin on top, and a new study shows that they’d even give up porn and beer if it meant keeping them from losing any of their hair. The survey, conducted by the market research service NPD Group, says 69% of men fear baldness, and 8% even admitted a willingness to give up sex if it meant keeping their hair.
In short, guys want to keep what they already have. And in the case of beards, they want what biology hasn’t given them naturally. But what causes baldness in the first place?
While there are over 35 million men in the United States are currently experiencing some kind of hair loss, approximately 811,364 have decided to fight back by seeking some form of hair restoration. Most of them are losing their hair due to natural factors like genetics, and indeed, aging can play a big role in when a guy starts to see more clumps in the shower drain. But high stress levels, certain medications and even poor lifestyle choices like smoking habits can increase your chances for male pattern baldness. Scientifically, hair loss may be triggered by DHT (short for dihydrotestosterone), a breakdown product of testosterone that may cause hair follicles to get smaller and smaller.
For the folks who seem to be doomed by their genetics, there just might be hope on the horizon. Last year, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences pushed for a treatment option that would be able to regrow hair in a laboratory, then transfer that hair to the scalps of balding men worldwide. Right now, though, that kind of practical science is still years in the future.
In the meantime, the best thing you can do is keep an eye on it. Speaking to the Huffington Post, Dr. Alan Bauman of the Bauman Medical Group says that nearly 50% of your hair loss can take place without you even realizing it, so don’t just brush off the stray hairs you keep finding on your jacket or your pillow — talk to your doctor right away. Try to formulate a plan for staying on top of your hair loss woes, if you can.
If you can’t, at least you know you can always opt for a beard transplant instead.