Eyebrow transplant surgery is a popular restorative procedure performed by plastic, cosmetic, and dermatologic surgeons in clinics worldwide. It helps people achieve full, healthy eyebrows after accidents, overplucking, and other life circumstances that result in brow loss.
However, like any surgical treatment, there’s a chance of it turning out less than ideal. So what can you do with an eyebrow transplant gone wrong?
PMUHub looked into what causes a botched eyebrow transplant, how to prevent it, and how to cope if it does happen.
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Are Eyebrow Transplants Safe?
Yes, eyebrow transplantation is a safe procedure as long as it’s performed by a certified, experienced surgeon.
Since the patient is also the donor, there’s no risk of their body rejecting the transplant.
However, if the transplantation surgery is performed by an under-qualified doctor, or in unsanitary conditions, there’s a chance that it might fail or that negative side effects might occur.
What Are the Risks of an Eyebrow Transplant?
Although it’s generally safe, eyebrow transplant comes with certain risks just like any other surgical procedure. There are two risks to keep in mind:
- The implant not taking
- Experiencing complications or side effects
What If Your Eyebrow Implant Doesn’t Take?
When your surgeon implants the donor hairs in your eyebrow area, some of the transplanted follicles might not adapt to their new environment. In that case, after the initial hairs have fallen out, the follicles will fail to produce new ones.
If that happens, you’ll end up with patchy new eyebrow growth. You’ll need to undergo the surgery again to compensate for the areas that lack hair.
Touch-up procedures are usually done around 9 months after the initial surgery, but that can range anywhere between 3 months to several years. 1
Image source: YouTube Screenshot Beauty Abounds
What Are the Side Effects of Eyebrow Transplant?
There are certain complications that could potentially occur during or after the surgery and cause a botched eyebrow transplant.
Talk to your surgeon in detail about the following potential side effects:
- Excessive bleeding
- Nerve damage
Ask your surgeon for recommendations on minimizing the risks and managing any side effects that you might experience during recovery.
How Successful Are Eyebrow Transplants?
In general, eyebrow transplant surgery is a highly successful procedure. With suitable candidates who adhere to their surgeon’s instructions, the success rate of FUT/FUE hair transplants is as high as 95-99%. 2
If there is an underlying skin condition or another medical issue that might affect the process, the success rate of the transplant might be less.
That’s why it’s important to address the patient’s medical history and current health in detail during consultations.
Why Does a Botched Eyebrow Transplant Happen?
There are several reasons that might cause an eyebrow transplant to fail. Some of them come down to the surgeon, some to the procedure environment, and some to your body’s response to the surgery.
Excessive Harvesting from the Donor Area
Taking too much hair or skin grafts from your scalp can result in a large hairless patch and even scarring. These might be difficult to camouflage, which can cause the patient significant discomfort.
After all, the donor spot is supposed to be discreet. While it’s not a problem with the eyebrows themselves, it is an unwanted event and can make you feel like the procedure as a whole was unsuccessful.
If the surgeon isn’t delicate in how they handle the procedure, there might be scarring in the donor or recipient area (or both). It can be uncomfortable, unattractive, and impact the patient’s satisfaction and self-confidence.
Since the goal of an eyebrow transplant surgery is to improve a person’s appearance and help them feel good in their own skin, unnecessary scarring directly means the desired result wasn’t achieved.
If any of the transplanted follicles don’t adapt well to their new environment, the hair growth from them will be suboptimal. That can mean either fewer hairs, or no hair at all.
In such cases doctors say the transplant “didn’t take” and may need to be redone. Whether you’ll have to undergo a touch-up surgery depends on how many follicles failed to adapt and to what extent.
In most cases where transplants didn’t take, the new eyebrows end up looking uneven or patchy. In the worst-case scenario, there’s no hair growth at all.
Sometimes, even if the transplant takes well, the eyebrows that grow from it might not look right.
Unnatural-looking brows usually happen when the surgeon isn’t careful and precise with inserting the donor follicles.
They have to be transplanted under specific angles that mimic your natural eyebrow growth. That’s why your surgeon has to have artistic talent as well as technical skill.
How to Prevent a Botched Eyebrow Transplant
Eyebrow transplant is a surgery, and as such, it takes serious research and prep before you undergo the procedure. Here’s what you can do to prevent an eyebrow tattoo gone wrong scenario:
Make Sure You Are a Suitable Candidate
While FUE is regarded as the best eyebrow transplant technique at the moment, not everyone is a candidate for it. In fact, only about 60% of patients are determined to be eligible candidates. 3
The rest may be redirected to FUT transplants or another procedure altogether.
Choose the Right Surgeon
Remember, your ideal surgeon will have both surgical skill and artistic talent. They will also be approachable and ready to address any concerns you may have.
Ask about their credentials, portfolio, training, ongoing education, and practical experience. If you feel unsure about anything, don’t go through with booking an appointment.
It’s important that you can feel safe and comfortable with the doctor who will perform your eyebrow transplant procedure. Look for a surgeon who is patient and communicates in a way that suits you.
Eyebrow transplants are a surgical procedure and must be performed at certified, accredited facilities. Don’t be tempted to opt for a shady clinic just because it offers a good deal.
If the facility doesn’t adhere to rigorous hygiene and safety standards, you risk injury and infection. That severely complicates your recovery and compromises not only your overall health, but also the results of the procedure.
Always Get a Second Opinion
Before you commit to an appointment, book consultations with several surgeons. Get a few different perspectives on your circumstances and the results you want to achieve.
Take your time comparing surgeons’ techniques, pricing, availability, and overall approach. If you get contradicting opinions, ask for clarification.
This will also help you get a better picture of the results you can realistically achieve. That will give you a clear idea of what to expect and protect you from any disappointment down the line.
Be 100% Transparent in Consultations
Your doctor will ask you about your recent medical history, underlying health conditions, overall health, allergies and sensitivities, as well as any medication or supplements you might be taking. They might also ask about your family medical history.
It’s essential you be completely honest and provide as much detail as you can. All of those factors can influence the procedure itself and its final outcome.
Remember, your surgeon is a healthcare professional. They won’t judge you or make you feel bad about anything. Their only concern is making sure that eyebrow transplantation is the way to go for you and that it goes as smoothly as possible.
Image source: Freepik
Adhere to Prep Instructions to a T
Your chosen surgeon will probably give you a few things to do to prepare for your procedure. These might include lifestyle changes (e.g. no smoking, no tanning), preventive medication (e.g. a course of antiviral meds to prevent cold sore breakouts), etc.
Whatever prep instructions you’re given, carry them out in full. Their purpose is to minimize the risk of a botched eyebrow transplant, as well as keep you safe from infections and other complications.
Follow Aftercare Instructions Religiously
Your surgeon will give you a specific plan of postoperative care. It usually includes instructions on maintaining hygiene in the transplant area, protecting your sensitive skin from irritants, and preventing infection.
It’s essential that you adhere to these instructions to the letter. In particular, keep your brows dry for the first few days and be diligent in applying local antibiotics.
These two strategies are crucial to make sure that your new eyebrow hairs will grow in the proper shape and that no infection will interfere with the follicular adaptation. 4
What Can You Do About a Botched Eyebrow Transplant?
First of all, if you notice anything off with your eyebrow transplant results, contact your surgeon and ask for recommendations. Reputable clinics usually have a comprehensive follow-up service for any post-operative problems.
Even if you can’t reach your surgeon directly, there is usually a dedicated point-of-contact person for post-recovery care. It could be an associate surgeon or qualified consultant at the clinic.
If they can’t help you, they will forward you to the actual surgeon who performed your transplantation.
Your doctor can either advise you in a call or arrange an appointment for an assessment.
If your concern is a health issue, rather than aesthetic, immediately seek medical attention. Contact either your GP or your local emergency healthcare services, depending on the scale and severity of the problem.
Once the immediate risks have been addressed, you can contact your surgeon. Update them on the situation, put them in touch with your GP or emergency department, and see what can be done.
You may be able to have a second procedure to repair any botched eyebrow transplant results. Your doctors will jointly assess your situation and advise you accordingly.
Eyebrow Transplant Gone Wrong – Main Takeaways
Since it is a surgical procedure, eyebrow transplants are serious, and should be taken as such. On the part of the patient, this means finding the best possible surgeon, and sticking to pre- and post-care instructions.
Should you notice any side effects or anything at all different from the normal, expected recovery process your surgeon describes, contact the clinic immediately and schedule a visit.
- Koçer, Ugur, et al. “Frontal scalp flap for aesthetic eyebrow reconstruction.” Aesthetic plastic surgery 26 (2002): 263-266.
- Klingbeil, Kyle D., and Raymond Fertig. “Eyebrow and eyelash hair transplantation: a systematic review.” The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology 11.6 (2018): 21.
- Goldman, Boris E., and David M. Goldenberg. “Nape of neck eyebrow reconstruction.” Plastic and reconstructive surgery 111.3 (2003): 1217-1220.
- Epstein, Jeffrey. “Facial hair restoration: hair transplantation to eyebrows, beard, sideburns, and eyelashes.” Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics 21.3 (2013): 457-467.