Beard can boost your self-esteem and confidence, which may be why they’re such a popular trend right now. A 2016 survey found that 61% of men aged 18 to 39 have some kind of facial hair and this trend had increased by 7% from 2011 .
Beard transplants, just like normal scalp hair transplants, are very safe and effective solutions to treating patchy beard bald spots and are a perfect solution for those unable to grow a beard.
While surgical facial restoration boasts a 97-100% success rate, sometimes beard transplants go wrong the same way hair transplants can go wrong. Complications like infection, excessive scarring, and unnatural graft placement can all compromise the results of your beard transplant.
Along with expert analysis from our chief surgeon Dr Michael May, let’s look at what can happen when a beard transplant goes wrong.
Common beard transplant problems
Beard transplants are a specialist skill. Even in the UK, there aren’t many beard transplant specialists. So patients need to find a clinic that can offer the right care and support. This will minimise the risk of problems and make sure any that arise are mild and treatable.
If your clinic doesn’t offer adequate care, the risk of developing serious complications is much higher. These may require medical attention or additional surgery to correct the unsatisfactory results. Many beard transplant problems stem from Turkish clinics that use unlicensed technicians and don’t adhere to strict safety standards.
That’s why it’s so important to choose the right beard transplant clinic from the start.
Complications can occur within days or weeks of a beard transplant. Here are some of the risks and side effects you should be aware of beforehand.
Unnatural graft placement
Skilled beard transplant surgeons create results that are indistinguishable from your natural beard. But choosing a less experienced technician increases the chance you’ll get an unnatural or unsightly beard transplant.
The following patient had his beard transplant in Turkey. It cost less than €2,000, and was said to consist of 1,500 grafts (although the final results suggest far more grafts were actually taken).
The results? Poor hair angulation, unnatural hairless patches, folliculitis, and an asymmetrical moustache. This patient’s facial acne was also triggered by his botched beard transplant.
Poor graft placement can make you feel even more self-conscious of your facial hair. In many cases, you’ll need to get additional surgery to correct it, as this patient did. So it’s best to choose a skilled, experienced surgeon with a strong track record in the first place, even if it costs a little more.
Beard transplant infection
Pain, minor swelling, and redness are common after a beard transplant. These can usually be managed with painkillers, anti-inflammatories, and antibiotics.
But in some cases — especially if your surgery took place in a non-sterile environment — there’s a risk of more serious hair transplant infection. Infections usually occur because of poor hygiene, underlying medical conditions and unsanitary, unsterilised surgical equipment.
Signs of an infection include:
- Oozing pus
- Nausea and vomiting
If left untreated, severe infections can cause necrosis, a type of tissue damage in which there is a lack of blood flow which causes tissue death. Infection can also lead to sepsis, which can be life-threatening.
In some cases, the hair follicle becomes inflamed, causing folliculitis. Folliculitis can occur without infection but is often due to a bacterial infection .
Cobblestoning and scarring
Another problem caused by poor transplant technique is cobblestoning. Cobblestoning is a type of scarring at the recipient site. It looks like tiny raised bumps, and is caused by incorrect placement of hair grafts, either at the wrong depth or into incisions that are too small .
Other hair transplant scars can occur at the donor site, particularly if you opt for FUT surgery. FUT typically leaves a small scar. But if your surgeon doesn’t close the wound cleanly, the scar can become large and noticeable.
Hair transplant overharvesting occurs when too many hair follicles are taken from a single donor site. Overharvesting leads to pinpoint scars in FUE or a wide scar in FUT.
Extreme overharvesting from the scalp.
Overharvesting is also dangerous because it limits the availability of your follicles for future transplants if you want or need them.
Why do beard transplants go wrong?
There are several potential causes of a botched beard transplant:
- Lack of surgical skill and experience
- The patient isn’t a good candidate for a beard transplant
- The patient doesn’t take care of their beard transplant
- Unrealistic expectations
These factors often lead to unsatisfactory results or beard transplant failure.
Beard Transplants in Turkey
In 2022, the ISHRS reported that beard and moustache transplants accounted for 5% of all hair transplants . The number of beard transplants has more than tripled in the last ten years.
Unfortunately, lots of clinics that don’t have the skill or expertise to perform this intricate procedure have sprung up to meet this surge in demand. In 2021, 5.4% of procedures were repairs for botched surgeries performed by black market hair transplant clinics .
Some overseas clinics have a poor safety record. In 2021, 100% of complications following cosmetic surgery occurred in Turkish clinics . Unfortunately, even fatalities have been reported. The UK government claims to be aware of 22 British nationals who have died in Turkey since January 2019 following medical tourism visits .
Despite this, hair transplants in Turkey are becoming even more popular.
Low quality Turkish beard transplant clinics may:
- Offer a very low cost per graft (plus extras like hotel stays) to entice prospective patients
- Quote a higher number of grafts than you need, artificially inflating the price and leading to overharvesting — our research found Turkish clinics quoted 75% more grafts than UK clinics
- Not meet medical-grade safety standards
- Not use qualified, registered surgeons — one report found that taxi drivers and unqualified refugees were performing hair transplants in overseas clinics 
- Try to get you in the chair without discussing non-surgical options first.
At best, these issues can create unsatisfactory beard transplant results that need fixing. So ultimately you’ll pay more, and have a stressful, unpleasant experience. At worst, unsanitary environments and other risk factors can lead to serious health problems and even death.
Matt Devlin, a consultation at the Wimpole Clinic, advises against choosing a low-cost clinic:
“You see a lot of adverts for cut priced hair transplant clinics, often located abroad. My advice would be to avoid these deals that offer the world at bargain prices. You need expertise for these procedures to truly look natural.”
Some clinics just want to get patients in the chair, regardless of whether they’re a good beard transplant candidate. Poor beard transplant candidates include:
- Those with systemic diseases such as diabetes or hypertension
- Heavy smokers
- Many young patients
- Patients with extensive hair loss from donor site
- Patients with pre-existing hair conditions such as alopecia barbae.
Beard transplants should be a last resort. Options like Minoxidil for beard growth should always be discussed before you opt for surgery. If you feel like a clinic just wants you to sign up for surgery, this is a red flag.
Insufficient postoperative care is one of the top reasons for avoidable complications like dislodged grafts. Poor post-operative care includes:
- Bad hygiene
- Scratching the beard
- Disregarding aftercare instructions
- Not protecting newly transplanted hairs.
Your clinic should give you a thorough aftercare routine. It’s a good idea to ask about this before you choose your clinic.
Unrealistic beard restoration expectations
Your clinic should manage your expectations regarding what can be achieved from a beard transplant. Not everyone will be able to achieve a long thick beard, and results are not immediate. The full results of a beard transplant will be visible within eight or nine months.
Results are dependent on several individual factors, including:
- Natural hair thickness and density
- Graft availability at your donor site
- Your age.
Always speak to your surgeon to learn more about what to expect after your beard transplant to avoid disappointment.
What to do about a botched beard transplant
Severe complications, such as signs of serious infection, should be treated at the hospital. Visit your local A&E or contact your GP.
For cosmetic or more minor problems, your clinic should be your first port of call. Raise any concerns with them and they should help you address these.
If your clinic is unavailable, overseas, or unable to assist you, schedule an appointment with a different reputable clinic. They can offer advice and help you decide on the next steps.
How to prevent a botched beard transplant
As with any surgical procedure, beard transplants have minor risks, and unexpected complications can arise.
However, with an excellent and experienced surgical team, complications and unwanted side effects can usually be avoided and promptly fixed. So choosing an excellent beard transplant clinic is the best way to avoid your beard transplant going wrong.
Beard transplants have excellent success rates and patient satisfaction. For the best results, choose a clinic with the following:
- Qualified, experienced surgeons
- Good hair transplant clinic reviews
- Evidence of their results (including hair transplant before and after photos)
- Guided postoperative care
- Follow-up aftercare service.
Full, natural-looking beard transplant results after 7 months.
Choosing a reputable clinic and following aftercare instructions will give you long-lasting results you’ll love.
Book a consultation with the Wimpole Clinic to learn more about beard transplants.
- Beards are growing on the British public | YouGov
- Complications in Hair Transplantation
- Body to Scalp: Evolving Trends in Body Hair Transplantation
- Botched Beard Hair Transplant & Repair
- International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery: 2022 Practice Census Results
- BAAPS Call for Action as Audit Reveals 44% Rise in Botched Cosmetic Surgery from Abroad
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