Edward Ball, who carried out Jamie’s procedure at the Ziering hair restoration clinic in London, says he has done around 20 facial hair transplants over the last 12 months, compared to ten in the previous year. “It sounds minor but it’s something that can really bother people,” the one-time plastic surgeon says. “There are some men who maybe can’t grow a beard, they’re very baby-faced and they find it hard to be taken seriously at work. We also see a lot of people from the Middle East, where having a big, bushy moustache can be a huge status symbol.
“I get emails from men I’ve worked with, saying it’s been life changing, that it’s helped them with their confidence at work and in their relationships.”
Mr Ball, who charges £6 for each hair graft (with a moustache costing up to £2,400 for 400 grafts and a complete beard around £9,000 for 1,500) says half of his clients for these procedures are people who have pre-existing conditions or scars which they want to be able to cover up, with the other half made up of men who are simply unhappy with the way their facial hair looks.
“I see a lot of guys from the arts – actors, musicians, music managers – but the backgrounds of people who want this done are incredibly varied. I see people from London City workers through to firemen, though they tend to be in the younger age range, from late 20s to early 40s.”
One man who decided to undergo the procedure to cover up scars was Mark, a marketing manager from the Midlands. The 42-year-old had lived with a couple of inch-long cuts which zigzagged above his jaw for years as the result of cycling accidents before he saw a television show about hair transplants. “My wife said, ‘I wonder if they could do that with your face?’” he remembers.
“I was a bit apprehensive when I went for the first consultation, but by the time of the operation [where hair was taken from the back of his scalp] I was fine. I don’t even think about it any more because it doesn’t look any different from the rest of my beard, it just helps with my confidence.
“I had it done just before the Christmas holidays so nobody noticed the little scars afterwards at work, and if anyone’s noticed the hair coming back they haven’t said anything.”
And Mark sees nothing wrong with men using the procedure purely because they are unhappy with the shape or density of their facial hair. “If somebody goes to the right place and has it done for the right reasons, then what’s the problem with that?”
Dr Bessam Farjo, the Manchester-based specialist who worked with Mark and was behind one of the world’s first full-beard transplants in 1996, has also seen demand increase but is doubtful the procedure will hit the mainstream, however fashionable facial hair becomes.
“I really don’t think having the perfect beard or moustache is something most people worry about,” he says. “Scalp hair transplants for men who are balding are still much more popular.”
Some names have been changed