We can all thank chemist T.L. Williams, who created the first mascara when he mixed coal dust and Vaseline to help his sister attract the man she loved, for giving us a means of prettying up our eyes in the comfort of our homes.
But, as can be seen with the influx of false eyelashes in the 1960s, and our obsession for them now, for many, mascara doesn’t cut it anymore.
We want lashes. Big, voluminous, long, luscious lashes, and the ones our mothers gave us just aren’t enough. And innovations in the medical world, both in the plastic surgeon’s operating room and in the chemist’s lab, have satisfied our desires.
Eyelash Transplant Surgery
A procedure that has been used for reconstructive purposes for over a decade, eyelash transplant surgery has finally entered into the mainstream. Dr. Alan Bauman, a leading advocate and expert of the procedure, has been performing eyelash transplants for several years. At the beginning of his experience with the surgery, roughly 80 percent of those interested were calling for reconstructive work, to remedy defects caused by burns or trauma, whereas only 20 percent had cosmetic motivation, says Bauman. In the last few years, the ratios have reversed.
With hair transplantation becoming much more accepted by the general public, and with a tidal wave of cosmetic procedures rolling into popularity, it’s no doubt that eyelash transplant procedures will also burgeon. Combine the increase in doctors who are skilled in the procedure with women’s historical and seemingly innate desire to boost up her lash line, and you’ve got yourself the next must-have in cosmetic surgery.
“Enhancing one’s eyes has been a form of beauty since the dawn of recorded history,” says Bauman. “Eyelash enhancement goes back hundreds of years.”
How (on Earth) Do Eyelash Transplants Work?
For the procedure, which costs $3000 an eye, a small incision is made at the back of the scalp to harvest a long strip of hair-baring skin. The area is then sewn shut and, from the grouping, the surgeon creates skin grafts that contain a single follicle. The chosen hairs are individually sewn into the patient’s eyelids, with about 40-50 lashes being restored in one session, embedding the follicle and orienting the curl to make the most natural look possible, says Bauman.
Aesthetics for Your Eyelashes
The patient’s new eyelashes, however, aren’t going to be just like natural ones — because the hair is implanted from the scalp, it has the same color, texture and growth pattern as hair that grows on your head. That means transplanted eyelashes, which will grow approximately one quarter to half an inch every month, need regular trimming and might need perming, straightening or tinting, depending on the characteristics of the donor area.
Ellie Malmin, the eyelash stylist and “eye-aesthetics” professional at Bauman’s practice, says such maintenance can be as enjoyable as a spa treatment and is up to the patients’ preferences. Plus, the implants can drastically cut-down on your morning activities in the front of the mirror, so what’s another monthly visit to the aesthetician?
“Her makeup routine becomes less complicated after eyelash implants because eyelashes open and frame the eyes, making them appear refreshed, brighter and younger,” says Malmin, adding that a woman can bring the best out of her transplants by treating herself to pampering maintenance and by learning how to groom the eyelashes from a professional with experience.
The Downside of Eyelash Transplants
A lush set of lashes by way of a transplant is not without risks, however, much like anytime someone goes under the knife. With any kind of incision, bleeding and infection are a concern, and the procedure also works around the sensitive area of the eye, says Bauman. Most commonly, however, the plastic surgeon only sees some bruising and swelling on patients that lasts for a few days, and occasionally the occurrence of a sty when the lashes start to grow.
“There are always risks with any procedure, known and unknown risks, and a surgeon should discuss that with his patient,” says Bauman.
Not ready for surgery? Learn more about semi-permanent eyelash extensions.