View Full Version : Full Beard Transplant, 1891 grafts, FUT

02-10-2016, 02:55 PM
It wasnít until last October when I read a New York Times article on beard transplants that I learned such a procedure was possible. I had been waiting forty years for my beard to grow in and had made peace with the fact that it wasnít going to happen in this lifetime. Once I discovered it was possible, I immediately began researching methods and providers.

Given that this was a very big decision, I was not going to limit my search to nearby surgeons. Since I wanted the best possible outcome, I researched nationally. Fortunately, my search also uncovered a local practitioner who has top-notch credentials and experience, Dr. Steven Gabel of Hillsboro, Oregon. The clincher was reading other patient accounts with Dr. Gabel and learning that people come from far and wide to avail themselves of his services: Singapore, east coast, midwest. Given this, I had no hesitancy in choosing a capable and talented provider who was conveniently local to me.

My consultation with Dr. Gabel provided the confirmation I needed to select his practice for my procedure. He is very personable and spent all the time necessary to go over options that would provide realistic and natural looking results. For my goal of having a full beard, Dr. Gabel recommended an FUT strip procedure rather than FUE. With a strip, he was able to harvest the necessary follicles for a full beard transplant in one surgery. Other benefits to the strip procedure included having the donor site be undetectable from the time I left his office as well as having healthier follicles to place given that strip harvesting results in less follicle damage than FUE.

I was not only impressed with him being a double-board certified surgeon, but by his craftsman approach. Only one procedure is performed a day in his surgical suite, and Dr. Gabel performs each procedure himself, including the placement of each graft. His considerable staff ó eight team members were present and working on my behalf ó assisted the doctor with follicle dissection and quality assurance to make sure that all grafts were placed at the correct angle and direction.*

The procedure occurred during one long day with me arriving at 6:30 and finishing up by 5:00 pm. Even though the day was long, it went by quickly (assuredly with the assist of a valium and vicodin), and his staff made sure I was well cared for. They provided me with a tasty lunch, and I enjoyed the music and light banter between Dr. Gabel and staff while the procedure was underway. In general, there was little discomfort involved. The most unpleasant aspect was receiving the numbing agents. However, considering the adage: no pain, no gain; this small discomfort was well worth enduring. And that was the extent of the discomfort. The evening following surgery, I had one final vicodin at bedtime, but ibuprofen was all that was necessary in the ensuing days of healing.

On the day following the procedure, I was asked to return to the office so that the donor and beard areas could be cleaned and checked over by the staff and Dr. Gabel. I think having them take care of this first clean really helped minimize the minimal amount of crusting I experienced. During this visit, they also went over aftercare procedure to make it as easy as possible for me to properly tend to continued care at home. Since then, the staff has been very helpful in checking in with me regularly about my wellbeing.

I am now 17 days post-procedure and the shedding has begun, but Iím looking forward to six to eight months down the road when I begin to see the permanent results start to appear. I am so pleased that I have had the procedure and expect the outcome to be truly life changing. Iím so thankful for Dr. Gabelís expertise, confidence and attention to detail and for the skilled assistance of his fine staff. I recommend his practice without reservation. If you do consult with Dr. Gabel, please let him know Jake sent you!

03-06-2016, 03:43 PM

thanks so much for sharing your story and experience. I am very encouraged by it! I have a couple of questions.... but first just want to introduce myself and my unique predicament.

I'm 31, and have 'full beard coverage', though it's not nearly thick enough to grow longer than 10 days, and in some areas it's much lighter than the dark brown hair on my head. I have been using Minoxidil on my face fairly diligently for a couple of years. It has been a slow process and have experienced OK results. I've probably gained 100 - 200 new beard hairs, mostly in the cheek and upper mustache area, but it seems to have plateaued at this. It's super frustrating and maddening to be close to a full beard, but not actually be able to grow one.

Like you, I was very excited when I discovered that beard transplants are a reality, and are becoming increasingly common. I'm from Vancouver BC, and also like you, was willing to travel to find the best surgeon for the job.

After talking with a couple surgeons in Vancouver, I was fortunate enough to get in touch with Dr. Gabel. I drove down to Seattle and met him for a consultation. He answered all of my questions and even took a couple of my phone calls afterwards, as the new questions and thoughts arose. Dr. Gabel told me the truth, not what I wanted to hear, and that built my trust for him. I'm just looking to get completely comfortable and excited about the procedure before I go ahead with it. Jake, stories like yours are giving me increased peace of mind to go ahead and do this life changing procedure.

Jake, the pictures you took are excellent! My biggest fear has been scarring on my face, and the amount of time it takes for redness, swelling and crusting to go away.

Can you elaborate on what the healing has been like for you?

How long did it take for you to start feeling healed enough to go to work or out in public?

How long did the redness and crusting last?

Are there any signs of scarring on your face?

Was there any pain from the strip following the procedure?

Your 10 days post op pics are remarkable!!! Did it really heal that fast?

How long was your hair in the back that it was able to conceal the donor strip?

Thank you very much! Your story is giving me the courage to go out and make this a reality.

03-11-2016, 02:04 PM

I’m glad my account has helped encourage you, and I’m happy to answer your questions.

The speed of the healing process surpassed my expectations. For this, I credit the immediate post-procedure care provided by Dr. Gabel’s staff and the excellent after-care instructions with which I was sent home. On the same day right after the procedure, a staff member sprayed my face with a bottle of saline to dislodge dried blood and plasma. The next morning I returned to Dr. Gabel’s office for an initial checkin, and the staff repeated the spraying process leaving me relatively clean before continuing care at home.

For the next several days, I continued spraying my face every three to four hours to keep it moist. The following week, the after-care instructions had me apply mineral oil twice per day to the recipient area to further discourage crusting and itching. According to Dr. Gabel, some clients experience intense itching during this time, and the mineral oil is intended to alleviate it. Overall, I experienced very little crusting or itching. As far as itchiness goes, it was a half day max for me and quite minor.

I arranged two quiet weeks working from home and joining conference calls remotely. My first client meeting was midway through the following week, and I was able to be out in public with confidence. By then the minimal crusting was over, and the redness largely lessened. I’ve been wearing a short stubble since the procedure as it helps minimize the appearance of the remaining minor redness. At most, it appears more like a shadow than anything.

I have no facial scarring and the linear scar in the donor area is very fine. Again, I credit the excellent suturing to Dr. Gabel’s skills both as a hair transplant surgeon and as an experienced ENT surgeon. The hair on the back of my head was about 3/8 – 1/2 inch long and completely concealed the sutures immediately following the procedure.

Thankfully and remarkably, pain was really never part of the equation. The whole experience from procedure to healing is better termed as minor discomfort. I only took pain medication (vicodin) on the procedure day itself. By the following day, the minor discomfort was alleviated with regular ibuprofen which I continued for three or four days. It’s really remarkable how quickly the body heals!

Thanks for the compliments on the photos. Dr. Gabel took them himself, and he demonstrated a sense of pride with the results. While it is MY face, he takes a craftsmanlike interest in the workmanship of HIS grafts. I will be returning at the six month point for another checkin and additional photos. At that time, I will update my post with new photos.

I am so pleased with the progress so far, and I’m waiting patiently for my beard to come out of dormancy and begin to surface over the coming months. While I still expect it to be awhile before I see initial results, I’m living by the adage that patience is a virtue.

Given that it seems you are less challenged than me follicle-wise from the outset with your current coverage, I imagine you will have excellent results as well. Hopefully, this helps to answer your questions, and I’ll be glad to answer any follow-ups you may have. Apologies for the late response. It has been awhile since I last checked the forum.


04-04-2016, 12:39 PM
Hey Jake,

sorry for the delay writing back. It's me who responded late, you were right on time :) I just took some time to process what you said and continue my research before I wanted to respond.

I read your message when I was skiing Whistler and it made me wish I had grizzly stubble to protect my face from the cold wind LOL :) This all has been such a serious topic for me, I'm feeling inclined to keep it light.

I want to start by saying again, thank you so much for sharing your story and for responding to my message. It means a lot to me, and I'm sure others who've come across your post.

Very happy to hear you're healing well, that is particularly encouraging for me; because that's my biggest fear, to be 'in hiding' for months or some prolonged period of time. I can handle a week or two keeping to myself, but any longer I'd get a little stir crazy. It also really inspires confidence in me that you trust the staff and the skills of Dr. Gabel. I really enjoyed learning about the specifics of the post-op care that you described.

I do have a few more questions, since it's been a couple of months, I suppose, since your procedure.

How has the FUT scar continued to heal? I'm most concerned about whether it is raised and can be felt by, let's say, a woman running her fingers through my hair haha.

How have the grafts continued to heal? And has the shedding happened? - What was that like, did it happen on its' own? Any luck with new growth yet (I know it's still a little early)?

And most importantly to me, are there any signs of the 1891 tiny incisions made for implanting the grafts? In other words, can you go clean shaven or trim to a 2 day stubble, without showing any signs of tiny scars? This is my most burning question! Or did all those heal up perfectly? Thanks, and I'm sorry being soooo specific. I want to dispel any worry to me or anyone else may come across this.

Excited to see your updated photos!

Dr. Gabel has been so generous with his time. He met me in Seattle for a consultation, he took two of my follow up phone calls, and we'll be connecting on the phone once more in a weeks time... I think I'm ready to book in for October!

Thanks again Jake, I hope all's well! And I hope your confidence is through the roof!



04-11-2016, 02:14 PM
Hi, Brad,

In answer to your questions, here goes. The FUT scar has healed very well. It is completely undetectable and smooth. I can still feel a bit of sensitivity in the area but it’s minimal and continues to lessen.

The shedding was complete a month or more ago. Honestly, I don’t know when it happened — maybe while sleeping or showering? I never saw any shedded hairs, but they did go away (as is to be expected). I am starting now to see some new growth. There’s not much yet, but everything is going as planned. More hairs should become visible over the next couple of months. It is fun to see the few new hairs show up though. They weren’t there before!

There isn’t any scarring to the recipient area. In fact, I am able to be clean shaven now without any evidence of the procedure. Healing has been great. The whole thing is starting to feel like a dream. Did I really have this operation? Just kidding, but really right now I’m pretty much back to where I was beforehand except with the knowledge that the follicles have been embedded and will come out of their dormancy.

Hope this helps. As weeks go by, I’m getting more and more excited about the results materializing. Again, I’ll post additional photos after my six month check up.

09-08-2016, 04:08 PM
I've updated the photo sheet with six month status. Progress continues!