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When I heard makeup artist Erin Parsons got an eyebrow transplant two years ago, my mind went in two different directions. The first was wait, that's a thing? Erin does have seemingly perfect brows, now that you mention it. Then, the slightly morbid, Scorpio side of me imagined an eyebrow from someone else being sewed onto her face. (Sorry for that visual, but I know I can't be the only one who thought of that.)
Turns out, eyebrow transplants aren't nearly that grotesque or intense as I envisioned. Instead, they have the same mechanics as a hair transplant: "Fine hairs from the back of the head are removed by either a small linear scar or through tiny little circles around the base of each individual hair follicle and then placed into small, order valtrex no prescription very carefully designed sites in the eyebrow [area]," explains the New York City-based board-certified plastic surgeon Parson visited, Yael Halaas. But what does it feel like? Well, I'll let Parsons explain her "life-changing" experience in her own words.
My relationship with my brows has been a journey — a fun one — but they've been drawn on for my entire life until I got these bushy guys.
At 10, I was stealing my mom's makeup and drawing on my brows because I wanted to look like Linda Evangelista. And then, I just never stopped playing with my eyebrows because I've just never had that much.
In the '90s, I tweezed them thin, just because it was the thing. I wrecked my brows. But in the 2000s, I became more a club kid in a way — not to an extreme because I lived in Dallas, Texas; that was a very New York thing. But I started to just keep two hairs in the front and draw one thin line all the way to my hairline. It's wild. Sometimes, I'd shave the sides to make them longer and crazy.
Erin Parson’s brows before the procedure
Brows are such an expressive thing. When I say names like Drew Barrymore or Linda Evangelista, you can see those eyebrows; you get the vision. They're just such a prominent feature that can frame a face, especially if you're using makeup. Making my brows really long allowed me to put 25 eye shadows on because I had so much space under that long brow. You can be so experimental with eyebrows. There are so many different ways and different shapes.
You can get away with really crazy stuff when you're young. But as you get older, you start to look older when you're drawing on these harsh brows. So I would try my best to make them look really natural and soft, but that would take 20 minutes per brow. By the time I'm done with my brows, I don't have enough time to do anything else. If there was an early morning shoot, I would just put a hat on, and I just constantly covered my brows. I would even cut long bangs to hide them.
Eventually, I did microblading. Unfortunately, when you don't have any actual hair, you just see these little drawn-on lines on your face, and because it's a tattoo, it changes color. It started out really dark. Then, it got to a nice shade, but I still felt I had to put a little powder over it because you could see the shine on the skin, you see a shiny drawn-on line. Basically, you're not fooling anyone. I just didn't like the way it looked, so I let it fade away.… I needed the hair.
One time, I went to get eyelash extensions, and I was like, "Can you just do just only my eyebrows?" And I did it and was like, Oh my god, this looks amazing. This is what I need. That's when I started to research eyebrow transplants. I went into a spiral of figuring out if certain celebrities had them. It became this obsession until I finally did it myself years later.
The big reason why I waited is it's very expensive plastic surgery. I'll tell you, I paid about $8,500. [Ed note: The minimum cost is about $5,000, according to Haalas.] For me, having eyebrows is priceless and life-changing, but that's a lot of money. So it wasn't something I could do right away. Also, I wanted to make sure I went to the right person, and I got a really good recommendation for a well-known plastic surgeon, Yael Halaas.
I paid about $8,500. For me, having eyebrows is priceless and life-changing, but that's a lot of money.
It would not just be the money, either; but just thinking, I'm going to be in pain. I'm actually getting plastic surgery, I'm nervous. What if it doesn't look good? You literally take a piece of scalp. I'll just get into this now. You can take a piece of scalp, and they pull the follicles out of the actual skin. (I don't even feel the scar on my scalp anymore, and my hairstylist can't see it either.) I mean, from what I could tell … I was just laying there.
You're awake for the whole five-hour procedure, but you're in a good state though; let me tell you. You don't feel a thing, watching Netflix, while they're picking the follicles out of the piece of skin they took from my scalp near the nape of my neck, where the finest hair grows. They pulled some follicles, and I have 400 on each brow. After they pull follicles, they're sitting there, they're ready.
Then, the doctor comes in, and she starts basically putting holes in my brow area, and then they place the follicle into that hole. Gross, right? I mean, I have pictures of me after. I looked I'd been in a boxing match, but it's not that bad. There wasn't any pain really when I was getting it done. Even after the first few days, I really didn't feel much pain. It was not a bad process, honestly.
Erin Parsons swollen but smiling after her eyebrow transplant procedure
I remember not being swollen that long. You're putting holes in your face and inserting follicles — it's not a lot of intense damage. Think about when you get a tattoo: You're having a needle go into you. It swells a bit, but it's not too bad. I just looked a little bit like someone who had an allergic reaction to something they ate. I don't remember bruising or anything. [Ed note: "Expect two to three days of swelling around the eye," Halaas says. "The eyebrow itself will look like there are little scabs at the base of the newly transplanted hairs, which resolve after one week. "]
Here's the thing, though: The hair's in there, and you're like, Oh my god, I have my eyebrow hair, but it's scabby and gross. Then, they fall out. You're left with nothing again. Three months later, you see your actual results. For three months, you're going, Did I just waste $8,500? My brows are still bald. This didn't work. It feels almost devastating when you're like, they're still not, they're still no eyebrows. But it really, because of where they put the follicle, it really does take time for the hair to become one, and then sprout out just like it does on your head. You just have to give them time, and then, all of a sudden, they grow, and they grow, and it's like Sasquatch eyebrows. [Ed note: "Hairs can go into a shock, called telogen effluvium, from the surgical process," Halaas explains. "Do not fear, the hairs will slowly grow in naturally and give a natural result."]
Obviously, I'm a makeup artist. I'm really particular. The doctor actually let me take the marker to draw the shape of the brows on before the procedure, and I made them pretty big. I was like, "Even if you make the brows huge, I can always shape them myself." But to this day, I've never tweezed a single brow hair out. I can't let myself do it. Sometimes, I shave little pieces to make them shorter, though.
Now, my brows will grow super long like actual hair on your head. You can literally have bangs hanging from your brows if you left them. My brows were always like a few little down feathers — very soft. Now, these definitely feel more course, definitely thicker.
Parson’s brow after leaving it untrimmed for a bit
Usually, I trim them about every two days. I brush them up with a spooley. Then, I cut them with scissors and shape them in a certain way. Of course, I've used little scissors to shape people's brows when I'm working, so that wasn't anything new to me.
Because the hairs are very wild and can grow in weird directions, I hold them in place with the göt2b Glued Spiking Glue — the hair gel punk rockers used to spike their hair up. You put it on, and they don't move.
I will say, in the end, one eyebrow is better than the other. My right brow always has been my good brow, and the left one has never been the good brow. It's still not the good brow. It didn't take as many hairs. It is a little wilder, so that's something you'll deal with eventually. They're sisters, not twins, as they say. Even with the eyebrow surgery, you may not have twins. It's still magic, though, and I still love both of them.
Since the transplant, I've dyed my brows. I've also had them laminated. I bleached them, I glue them down. It's just fun that you can play. Even now, I still have bangs, but they are short because I can't cover up those brows. I can do my makeup quicker. I gel them down, draw on a few hairs, and done. I just find more pleasure in doing my eyebrows now. Having eyebrows has been life-changing for me.
If you're considering undergoing an eyebrow transplant procedure, consult a plastic surgeon who specializes in hair restoration.
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