Eyelashes – new advancements in microsurgical techniques have been developed to permanently enhance the framework of the eyes and augment the “windows to the soul.” Although eyelash extensions and mascara help enhance an individual’s eyes, there is now a better and permanent alternative to augment the eyes and eyelids – eyelash transplantation. Women have been searching for different methods to produce longer and thicker eyelashes. Eyelashes not only serve a protective function for the eyes, they also create a unique facial appearance for individuals. Initially developed to restore eyelashes for people who were involved in accidents or lost their eyelashes as the result of medical treatments, nowadays the procedure is also being performed to enhance eyelash length and density.
Eyelash transplantation is a microsurgical procedure performed in a physician’s office under local anesthesia. It is important that patients meet with a qualified physician who is an expert in the field of hair and eyelash transplantation to discuss the patient’s desires and expectations. He/she will perform a complete history and physical examination focused on the eyes and eyelashes. Occasionally, patients may have a medical or psychiatric condition which is a contraindication to the procedure such as lupus erythematosus or body dysmorphic syndrome.
The procedure is performed by removing a small amount of skin in the back of the scalp which harvests the hair and the hair follicles, where the hair shaft is created. A few stitches are used to suture the “donor area” closed. The sutures are removed in 7 days or dissolve on their own. The hair is then microscopically prepared by separating the follicles from each other. Next, local anesthesia is used to anesthetize the eyelids. Using specialized micro instruments, a small puncture is made at the eyelid margin and the hair is gently inserted into position. The new eyelash is specifically oriented so it lines up correctly and allows the natural curl of the hair to point upwards. Typically, 25 to 45 hairs are transplanted in each eyelid. The entire procedure takes approximately 3 – 4 hours to perform.
Postoperatively, the new eyelashes are delicate and require specific care. It is extremely important that the new eyelashes are allowed to “seed” and are not disturbed for approximately 7 days. It is important for patients to sleep on their back and wear protective goggles so as to not accidentally disturb the new eyelashes during the night. Additionally, the application of a moisturizer will help soften the area to permit the hairs to grow freely. They are also instructed not to place any makeup or mascara on the eyelids for 2 weeks. Patients can expect some swelling and bruising for the first week; this usually subsides by the second week. Three to four weeks after surgery, the hair shafts shed, but the follicle remains. These follicles start producing a new hair shaft 2 – 3 months after surgery (see Figure 1 and Figure 2). It takes approximately one year until all the follicles are growing and the final results are seen. Unlike natural eyelashes, the new eyelashes will require lifelong care and need to be trimmed and curled once a month.
Before & After
Figure 1 & 2: 59 year old female before and 3 months after approximately
25 hairs transplanted into the left and right eyelids.
Steven Gabel, M.D. is the founder and medical director of Gabel Hair Restoration Center. He received his medical degree at Loyola University Medical Center and is triple board certified in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and Hair Restoration. Hie can be reached at 503-693-1118 and at his web site, www.gabelcenter.com.