Photo: Kenneth Willardt / Trunk Archive
As a makeup artist, Susana Canario is always emphasizing how important brows are, “The right brow shape can really change your face. Good brows frame, brighten, and define your eyes.” So it was a surprise when at age 42, Canario noticed gaps in her formerly full brows. At first, she covered up the issue by filling in the spaces with powder and pencil. But as her brows got thinner and lost more definition, it became a bigger issue for her, “I got to the point where I wouldn’t leave the house without filling in my brows. I thought I looked almost sickly without them,” she says. Finally at 48, Canario decided to do something about it and booked a brow transplant.
The procedure also known as a long hair Follicular Unit Transplant, involves transferring individual hair follicles from the back of the head and working them into the existing brow. Tiny incisions are made in each brow so that the hairs can be implanted. For Canario who wanted fuller brows, a total of 500 follicles—250 for each side— were transferred.
Canario’s eyebrows before her transplant.
To get the shape that Canario wanted, she drew them in with a pencil the morning of her surgery. For women who aren’t makeup artists, working with the doctor to get the shape right is crucial says Dr. Craig Ziering, who performed Canario’s transplant. “There are a lot of factors that go into making the brows look natural,” Dr. Ziering explains. “To open up the eye, and not have it look droopy, you want to make sure the brow is the appropriate shape, with the overall placement and arch set correctly.” The transplanted hairs should also feature a change in growth direction, the way a real brow would—growing towards the forehead in some places and out towards the ears in others.
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For Canario, there were no negatives to the three-hour procedure, done under local anesthetic. “It was painless,” she says. While she wasn’t in pain after the procedure either, she did experience some inflammation and bruising. After the surgery, she was treated in Dr. Ziering’s office with a calming laser. To further bring down the swelling she massaged the area a few times a day.
Canario’s eyebrows immediately following her procedure.
A few days after the transplant, Canario was back to work. “I just covered up a little leftover bruising under my eye with concealer and it was barely noticeable,” she says. Canario liked the way her brows looked and the initial post-op offers a glimpse as to how they will eventually look. The brows start out full, then fall out and are replaced by new hairs.It’s a process that takes several months to get the final result. Because the hairs are transplanted from the back of the hair, the brows do grow in the same way that the hair on your head does— so frequent trimming and grooming are necessary. Canario says it’s not much of an issue though, she just reaches for a brow scissors every week or so.
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The risks are minimal. Dr. Ziering says a reaction to the anesthetic is more likely than any reaction to the procedure. Ingrown hairs are a potential—but easily fixable—issue. Occasionally a patient requires more than one session and a touch-up. The average cost of a brow transplant is between $3,000 and $7,000 and the procedure time ranges from three to eight hours.
So what causes brow loss? “Age, over-plucking, and some medical conditions,” explains Dr. Ziering. For patients who are just beginning to see gaps, he has had success with “off-label use of Menoxodil or Rogaine and Latisse.”
Two months after her transplant, Canario is thrilled with the results even though they aren’t final. “I’m not one to jump on the bandwagon of fillers and Botox, and have never done anything really besides getting highlights. But this just made sense to me. The down time was so minimal and the payoff is huge, “ she says. “Most of all I don’t look ‘done’ the way I would with filler. Which to me, ages you more.”
Canario’s eyebrows two months post-op, still growing out to the final look