Eyebrow, you brow. We all wax, thread, pluck, trim, shave, gel, dye, powder, draw on, tattoo on or laser off our eyebrows. And now there's yet...
Eyebrow, you brow. We all wax, thread, pluck, trim, shave, gel, dye, powder, draw on, tattoo on or laser off our eyebrows.
And now there’s yet another option for fiddling with one of the face’s most frequently mutilated features: transplantation.
The same people who fill in bald spots on the head can plump up faint or nonexistent eyebrows, offering yet another option on the growing list of cosmetic surgical procedures available to the average American with some disposable income.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’d look in the mirror, virtually every morning, and all I could see was how ugly I was,” said Kelly Becker, 30, who was treated in the spring to transplantation by “The Tyra Banks Show” after going on to talk about her displeasure with hardly having eyebrows.
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Every day, across America, people look in the mirror and see something unsavory: circles under their eyes, acne, thin lips, pale skin, small eyes, crooked teeth, untamed hair or, the facial flaw du jour, barely there eyebrows.
Beware those beauty fads
For a while thin eyebrows were in, but now the beauty gods have declared them ugly, ugly, ugly, bad, bad, bad.
Here’s how an eyebrow transplant works, according to the national hair restoration practice Bosley:
• A doctor gives local anesthesia, then slices off a strip of your scalp from the back of your head. It’s called the “donor area,” and once you take hair from it, the hair will behave as if it’s still there, no matter where else in the body you place it.
• Nurses cut up the extracted tissue into slivers and put them under microscopes to separate out brows-to-be. Hair grows in ones, twos, threes and fours. For eyebrows, you hunt for ones.
• The doctor then pokes holes with a needle where your eyebrows will be, leaving punctures about one millimeter across and three to four millimeters deep, angled in the direction you want the hair to grow. The number varies, but the average person has about 250 in each brow naturally, Dr. Ken Washenik said.
• The transplantation team places the individual hairs into the holes with tweezers.
Out come the wallets. Fix up those faces.
Costing $3,000 to $5,000, the procedure is similar to hair transplants used by balding men — in essence, hair is taken from the back of the head and “planted” where it’s needed.
A few months later, the hair is exactly the same as regular eyebrows in every way but one: It will still behave however it did when at the back of your head, so it could potentially grow to your waist if you don’t trim it every three or four days.
“I could braid them and everything,” Becker said, joking about the potential growth of her eyebrows.
With nose jobs becoming standard graduation gifts, perhaps eyebrow transplants shouldn’t come as a surprise. And patients said the chronic maintenance requirement is a small price to pay for an important self-esteem fix.
Lorraine Delgado, 26, believed her super-fine eyebrows had put a kink in her pursuit of an acting career. Two weeks ago she had the procedure.
“I knew in my heart that I was good enough, but sometimes I wouldn’t even try, because I said, ‘They’re not going to hire me, because I have no eyebrows,’ ” Delgado said.
That seems, on one hand, like a whole lot of energy and self-disparagement wasted on something that, in the scheme of things, is pretty minor. Should you fork over money and energy for every single cosmetic adjustment you feel you have to have in order to land that gig or stomach your own reflection?
Eyebrows may not be the most celebrated of features — when was the last time you heard guys ogling a cover girl’s eyebrows? — but they do have the ability, in their own subtle way, to enhance life.
We rely on them to express ourselves, said Colorado-based image consultant Debra Lindquist.
“As much as hair loss bothers people in the scalp, it seems that the thing you recognize in the mirror involves your eyebrows,” said Ken Washenik, a doctor who performs the procedure.
While feeling ugly might be something you can only fix from the inside, the opportunity to look like yourself might in fact be worth a couple of paychecks and a few hundred needle punctures.
Maybe. There’s a fine line — finer if you tweeze — between vanity and a search for personal identity.