| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Think you've seen it all when it
comes to cosmetic surgery?
Look more closely. Eyelash transplant surgery wants to
become the new must-have procedure for women -- and the
occasional man -- convinced that beauty is not so much in the
eye of the beholder as in front of the eye itself.
Using procedures pioneered by the hair loss industry for
balding men, surgeons are using "plug and sew" techniques to
give women long, sweeping lashes once achieved only by glued on
extensions and thick lashings of mascara.
And just like human hair -- for that is the origin -- these
lashes just keep on growing.
"Longer, thicker lashes are an ubiquitous sign of beauty.
Eyelash transplantation does for the eyes what breast
augmentation does for the figure," said Dr Alan Bauman, a
leading proponent of eyelash transplants.
"This is a brand new procedure for the general public (and)
it is going to explode," Bauman told Reuters during what was
billed as the world's first live eyelash surgery workshop for
about 40 surgeons from around the world.
Under the procedure, a small incision is made at the back
of the scalp to remove 30 or 40 hair follicles which are
carefully sewn one by one onto the patient's eyelids. Only
light sedation and local anesthetics are used and the cost is
around $3,000 an eye.
The technique was first confined to patients who had
suffered burns or congenital malformations of the eye. But word
spread and about 80 percent are now done for cosmetic reasons.
For many women, eyelash surgery is simply an extra item on
the vast nip tuck menu that has lost its old taboos.
More than 10 million cosmetic procedures -- from tummy
tucks to botox -- were performed in the United States in 2005,
according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The
figure represents a 38 percent increase over the year 2000.
Erica Lynn, 27, a Florida model with long auburn hair,
breast implants and a nose job, had eyelash transplants three
years ago because she was fed up with wearing extensions on her
"When I found out about it, I just had to have it done.
Everyone I mention it to wants it. I think eyelashes are
awesome. You can never have enough of them," Lynn said.
Bauman, who practices in Florida, does about three or four
a month. Dr. Sara Wasserbauer, a Northern California hair
restoration surgeon, says she has been inundated by requests.
"I have been getting a ton of eyelash inquiries ... If I
had $10 dollars for every consultation, I'd be a rich woman."
The surgery is not for everyone. The transplanted eyelashes
grow just like head hair and need to be trimmed regularly and
sometimes curled. Very curly head hair makes for eyelashes with
too much kink.