An eyelash transplant is a transplant of your real hair follicles, usually harvested from the back of the head, to the rims of your eyelids. Once the procedure was primarily used for people with burns or facial disfigurements that caused lashes to fall out. Now it is a very common procedure throughout plastic surgery offices, with about 80% of people seeking a transplant simply to produce a thicker set of eyelashes.
The eyelash transplant is an in office procedure. People are usually given a light sedative and a local anesthetic. About 28 to 40 hair follicles are removed from the back of the head and reattached to the eyelid rims. Each hair follicle is transplanted one at a time, and then sewn into the eyelid to keep it from falling out. Since the hair is from the patient’s own body it is rarely rejected, and stitches around each follicle are extremely tiny, resulting in minimal scarring.
This planting of each new hair follicle causes the hair to establish itself permanently as an eyelash, but it is not quite the same as having lashes that grow normally. Like hair on the head, hair used in a transplant will continue to grow and needs to be trimmed. For the many who have the procedure done, this is a small inconvenience in exchange for fuller, more aesthetically pleasing lashes.
Not all people will have desirable results from an eyelash transplant. Those with autoimmune conditions may still suffer rejection of the transplants because their antibodies may see the new lashes as “foreign” and attack them. People with very curly hair can end up with kinked eyelashes that prove a nuisance. Very straight hair may not curl upward or downward as desired and may require regular eyelash curling in order to keep the lashes from straying into the eye.
Another common reason an eyelash transplant may not work is if it is done on people who have untreated trichotillomania. This condition causes the person to pull out hair, including brow hair and eyelashes. The trauma from yanking out hair can reduce total eyelashes, but unless the condition is under control, it makes very little sense to place new eyelashes in. They are likely to be pulled out again.
Treated trichotillomania that is well under control might be a good reason to get an eyelash transplant, since the person may have few eyelash follicles left. For most people, a transplant is merely a cosmetic enhancer which comes at a high price. It costs about 3000 US dollars (USD) per eye to have the procedure done. Many find the price of an eyelash transplant well worth the end result.