Beard envy? Hipster trend sparks interest in facial hair transplants

Hipster beards are no longer confined to the streets of Brooklyn, N.Y. — they have made their way into the mainstream as actors, politicians, athletes and other men are sporting their own scruff. That's giving some follicularly challenged men enough serious beard envy to seek a facial hair transplant. 

According to a recent article at DNAInfo, some New York City doctors have noticed an uptick in the number of men who are resorting to facial hair transplants, and who pay anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000 for the procedure.

"I absolutely agree that beard transplants have grown in popularity," New York facial plastic surgeon Dr. Yael Halaas, who performs up to six procedures a month, told TODAY."Within the past three to four years, there's been a tremendous increase in patients coming every week to fill in patches in their beards, moustache or really just trying to grow a full beard where they had really little." 

It may sound like a headline from The Onion, but doctors say the procedure is popular with Hasidic Jews, female to male transgenders and guys who just aren't very hairy. 

While the Brooklyn lumberjack look hasn't spawned a nationwide trend —yet — the plastic surgery procedure seems to becoming more well-known. 

"Because the facial hair trend is growing, there are more men interested in that look," Dr. Scot Glasberg, president elect of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) told TODAY. “Maybe in the next 10 years.” 

There is typically more reluctance to get hair transplants on the face, as the procedure can be more painful than a hair transplant on the head, Glasberg said. Another reason why the transplants haven’t quite taken off yet: “Facial hair isn’t where they typically lose hair.”

While beard transplants are still unusual, they’re a real thing and not as uncommon as eyelash or pubic hair transplants, says Dr. Anthony Youn, a Michigan-based board-certified plastic surgeon. 

epa03061468 US actor Brad Pitt arrives for the 69th Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, US... PAUL BUCK / EPA
Actor Brad Pitt at the 69th Golden Globes. Is this the face that launched some serious cases of beard envy?

“Beard transplants are a valid operation for men who have follicularly challenged faces,” says Youn. “It's basically performed in the same way as hair transplants to the top of the head, except the follicles are inserted into a different location.”

Halaas says the procedure is done under local anesthesia, with hair taken from the back of the head.

It’s not only men seeking hipster cred who undergo the procedure. “I suffer from bad ingrown hairs on my face and neck due to shaving and started laser hair removal treatment several months ago,” Barron Myers, 27, said in an email. After getting the “mostly painless” transplant, the New York actor is happy with the results. “My skin texture and overall appearance is where it used to be before the scars and damage from the ingrown hairs," he wrote.

Anyone considering it should research carefully and go through a board-certified plastic surgeon and an accredited surgical facility, Glasberg says.

And before you go for the full "Duck Dynasty" look, research indicates that women aren't really big fans of bushy beards. 

According to a 2010 study from Northumbria University, men with light stubble were considered the most attractive by women and preferred for relationships. Men with full beards were thought of as older and the most masculine, mature and aggressive.

Speaking of desired by women — one of the most requested beards? Actor Brad Pitt's. 

  • Slideshow Photos

    Luke Macgregor / X01981

    Image: Actors Brad Pitt  arrives for a special Maleficent Costume Display at Kensington Palace in London

    Famous men and their beards

    From Pitt to Clooney, McConaughey to Galifianakis, many actors have shunned the razor to grow bushy or neatly-trimmed beards. Here are some of the most famous.

  • Famous men and their beards

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    Matt Lauer, Carson Daly, Willie Geist and Al Roker -

    TODAY's Matt Lauer, Carson Daly, Willie Geist and Al Roker grew their beards out in November 2013 in an effort to raise awareness for men's health issues.

    The men around you may stop shaving for a variety of reasons throughout the year, especially in "Movember." For male celebrities, facial hair may be required for a role, or it may just add to the mystique of being a star.

    TODAY
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    Matthew McConaughey -

    Honoree Matthew McConaughey looks all right while attending the 28th American Cinematheque Award event at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on Oct. 21, 2014. His laid-back persona is only accentuated when he stops shaving.

    Jason Merritt / Getty Images
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    Charlie Hunnam -

    "Sons of Anarchy" star Charlie Hunnam attends the season six premiere of the FX series at Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, on Sept. 7, 2013. The blond leading man's pointy biker beard fits his California character well.

    Kevin Winter / Getty Images
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    Brad Pitt -

    Brad Pitt attends a private reception as costumes and props from Disney's "Maleficent," starring his wife Angelina Jolie, are exhibited at Kensington Palace in London on May 8, 2014. Pitt's beard has fluctuated over the years from full-on scraggly to well-groomed goatee. He is rarely clean-shaven.

    Anthony Harvey / Getty Images
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    Christian Bale -

    "The Dark Knight" star Christian Bale arrives on the red carpet for the BAFTA British Academy Film Awards at the Royal Opera House in London on Feb. 16, 2014. Batman Bale clearly lurks in darker shadows than 5 o'clock ones.

    Andrew Cowie / AFP-Getty Images
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    Andrew Lincoln -

    "The Walking Dead" star Andrew Lincoln arrives at an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences event in Beverly Hills, California, on Oct. 4, 2013. Who has time to shave when zombies who look a lot worse are on your tail?

    Valerie Macon / Getty Images
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    Hugh Jackman -

    Australian actor Hugh Jackman appears on stage during an event before the Japanese premiere of "X-Men: Days of Future Past" in Tokyo on May 27, 2014. Jackman is always messing with his handsome mug, growing carefully crafted facial hair for assorted roles. Wolverine muttonchops anyone?

    Toru Yamanaka / AFP - Getty Images
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    Jake Gyllenhaal -

    Normally clean-cut actor Jake Gyllenhaal is in full-beard mode as he attends the "Enemy" premiere at the Palafox cinema in Madrid, Spain, on March 20, 2014. "Enemy" of a razor, apparently.

    Carlos Alvarez / Getty Images
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    Ryan Reynolds -

    Actor Ryan Reynolds attends Angel Ball 2014 hosted by Gabrielle's Angel Foundation at Cipriani Wall Street in New York on Oct. 20, 2014. Reynolds is going to be a new dad with wife Blake Lively. Baby might have to get used to daddy's scruffy whiskers.

    Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images
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    Tom Hardy -

    Another "Dark Knight" actor with a tendancy to get scruffy is Tom Hardy, here attending "The Drop" premiere during the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on Sept. 5, 2014.

    Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images
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    Jon Hamm -

    Perhaps playing a clean-shaven 1950s ad man on "Mad Men" is what drives Jon Hamm to go beard-o so often, like here at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles.

    Frazer Harrison / Getty Images
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    Idris Elba -

    Actor Idris Elba can have grey in his beard or pink or green for all we care -- it always looks good. Here he attends the 8th Annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards at Sheraton Times Square in New York on Sept. 21, 2014.

    Michael Loccisano / Getty Images
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    Jeff Bridges -

    Dude! Actor Jeff Bridges just wouldn't bein character as himself if he didn't have a beard. Bridges attends a premiere on Sept. 9, 2014, in Hollywood, California.

    Charley Gallay / Getty Images
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    Seth Rogen -

    What's funnier than a funny guy with a beard? Actor Seth Rogen speaks at an event during The New Yorker Festival on Oct. 10, 2014, in New York.

    Bryan Bedder / Getty Images
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    'Duck Dynasty' -

    Phil Robertson, Jase Robertson, Si Robertson and Willie Robertson from, "Duck Dynasty." The family tradition was to grow their beards out during hunting season but it became the show's signature.

    A&E via AP
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    George Clooney -

    Actor George Clooney, seen here arriving at the Oscars on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles told US Weekly that his salt-and-pepper beard makes him look and feel older.

    John Shearer / AP
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    Zach Galifianakis -

    Zach Galifianakis of "The Hangover" movie series has previously shaved his trademark beard, but once kept a handlebar mustache for an upcoming movie.

    Mario Anzuoni / Reuters
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    Ben Affleck -

    Ben Affleck shaved his beard after winning the Best Picture Oscar for "Argo."

    Jason Merritt / Getty Images
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    Joaquin Phoenix -

    Actor Joaquin Phoenix grew his scruffy beard when he claimed he was quitting acting to become a rapper a few years ago.

    Michael Loccisano / Getty Images
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    ZZ Top -

    Bassist Dusty Hill, drummer Frank Beard and guitarist Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. Their beards are in a class by themselves.

    C Flanigan / Getty Images
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    Jerry Garcia -

    Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead performs on Nov. 11, 1978. His grizzly beard could be called "hippie classic."

    NBC
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    John Lennon -

    In 1969 Beatle John Lennon and Yoko Ono held Bed-Ins for Peace. The weeklong event seen here took place in Amsterdam. A well-known Lennon quote, "The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight," was recirculated in 2011 during the Occupy Wall Street movement.

    AP
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