Transplant solution for thinning eyebrows

When Alexis Moran looks in the mirror, she sees something missing -- a gap in her eyebrows that she covers with makeup.

"Over the years, my eyebrows became very sparse in the center and I became more aware of that and self-conscious," said Moran.

It is a common condition that doctors say can be caused by repetitive plucking, skin conditions, or even genetics.

"Maybe 25 to 50 percent of women have some issue with their eyebrows, can be solved by having more hair," said Dr. David Suddleson, a cosmetic surgeon who Moran turned to.

Dr. Suddleson specializes in the emerging technique of eyebrow transplants.

First, the doctor marks the shapes of area that Moran wants the transplant to cover. Then, after numbing her skin, he removes a strip of thin, soft hair from behind her ear. Technicians then separate the sample into about 300 individual grafts which include its own follicle and tissue.

While the grafts are being prepared, Dr. Suddleson carefully punctures hundreds of tiny holes into the brow line. When they are ready, the team will carefully implant each living graft into a hole.

"In the old days, you had big grafts with 20 hairs in them and they'd just pop out of bald skin. It looked very uneaven. You couldn't do that in an eyebrow," said Dr. Suddleson. "Now we take one graft at a time, line up, so they look very natural."

The procedure takes two to three hours. The grafts themselves will take several months to grow in. Also, when they do, one downside is that the transplanted hair will grow at the same rate it does on the scalp, meaning Moran will have to trim her eyebrows every few weeks.

"She's going to maintain them and trim them once a week and shaping them and having a more full appearance," said Dr. Suddleson.

Still, he says the trade off is a thick natural look, with no gaps or thin spots.

There are no known side-effects to the eyebrow transplant, though it does result in some swelling directly after the procedure is performed.

The procedure ranges between $1,500 - $3,800.

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