Boom in beard transplants reported by doctors in New York and Florida
Hipsters yearning for rugged, unkempt look are paying hair-raising sums for plastic surgery
The unkempt, hairy hipster look is driving a plastic surgery boom in New York, where baby-faced young men are flocking to doctors for beard transplants that can cost as much as US$8,000.
Facial surgeons with private practices in Manhattan and Florida have seen a phenomenal rise in demand in the last five years - and hipsters are leading the way.
No longer the preserve of fishermen or ageing academics, beards are the signature look of urbane men in their 20s and 30s who consider themselves witty, creative and politically progressive. New York surgeons can perform up to three or four procedures a week for US$2,000 to more than US$8,000 depending on how much hair needs to be transplanted from scalp to cheek.
Danny Higuera, 26, a construction company boss, had a beard transplant over a year ago and is "thrilled" with the results.
He grew up admiring his father's beard, but could only muster "little patches" here and there. So he forked out US$8,000 on a transplant with Manhattan surgeon Jeffrey Epstein.
"There are people that like long hair or short hair. I just wanted a nice beard," he said. "I like that rugged look."
He added: "I do consider myself a hipster. I think it's very trendy to have a beard."
A decade ago, film stars were clean-shaven. But red carpets now are full of the bearded - Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Jake Gyllenhaal and Ben Affleck, to name a few. Epstein says the chief look-alike request is Pitt, with patients flying in from across the US, Britain or even Australia.
Yael Halaas, another New York doctor, agreed that demand had risen over the last four years.
"These guys kept streaming in complaining either they can't grow much of a beard or that they have patchy areas," she said.
"A lot of them tend to be in their 20s and 30s and they tend to be hip New Yorkers with an eye for aesthetic detail - they may work in the visual arts or performing arts," she said.
Halaas says she sees four to five patients a week for facial hair transplants. "A decade ago, it was maybe 10 a year," she said.