Question: I am nearly 60 years old. I lost all my hair almost 15 years ago but the final straw was the eyelashes and the lack of these is magnified by my spectacles. Every so often I apply false eyelashes but with hot flushes they have come off in embarrassing situations both at work and during family gatherings. My eyes seem to have shrunk in size and often run in all weather conditions. Although I use thick black waterproof eye pencils these come off the minute I get into the pool and I now shun shared public facilities. I have read about eyelash transplants, but I am concerned about the likely risks. I would be grateful for an expert opinion.
Answers: Hi, Evelyn. Eyelash transplants are a highly specialist area. They involve using scalp follicles to use as the donor hair. Due to your hair loss – which we are assuming is the result of a severe form of Alopecia Areata, namely either Alopecia Totalis or Alopecia Universalis – we are unsure if you would be a suitable candidate. It may be possible to use donor hair follicles from someone else but this is something you would need to discuss with a specialist surgeon.
As head-hair is used to replace eyelash hair, the newly-grafted eyelashes would grow in the same manner as scalp hair. As such, they would need regular trimming, as well as regular curling or perming in order to ensure they look natural.
This is not an area we are particularly familiar with given we specialise in non-surgical hair loss treatment of the scalp only. However, we are aware of one well-respected surgeon in the UK who is involved in this procedure, and was in fact the first in the UK to carry out this type of surgery in 2009. He recently stated at London’s FACE conference, that the procedure tends to take 3-4 hours at a cost of around £4,000. You can find out more on page 134 of the FACE abstracts document.
When investigating any type of hair transplant, but especially one that is such a newly developed procedure, it is incredibly important to find a reputable, highly-skilled surgeon. Not just because you want them to do the best possible, most professional job of carrying out the operation, but also to ensure you get the best pre-op advice as to whether or not you would be suitable and what the possible positives and negatives, including side effects, of having an eyelash transplant could be.
These are unlikely to become available until around 2021, but in the meantime it may be worthwhile considering other options such as medical tattooing or permanent makeup, if you are unhappy with the appearance of your eyes. Eyebrows can be microbladed on, which can help to add definition to the eye area, whilst permanent makeup can be used to provide eyeliner which will not sweat off, nor be affected by runny eyes.
Again, it is incredibly important to go to specialists in these fields, they require a high level of training and expertise to ensure a natural-looking finish, so make sure you do your research before going for consultations with a range of different practitioners, and see examples of their previous work, before making a decision if you do decide to investigate.
If you are looking for recommendations in any of these areas, your GP or a hair loss charity, such as Alopecia UK, may be a good place to start.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.