Several women looked mildly shocked for most of the late Nineties because of their plucking habits.
A further wave of panic hit when the proposed outline of the new brows was drawn onto my face. Rendered in ink, the things looked completely ridiculous. Eat your heart out Groucho Marx!
The doctors at the Clinic, however, are used to nervous patients. The Doctor was marvellously reassuring. While the procedure sounded horrific, he counselled, it is actually relatively gentle. Once I’d been taken through the medical preliminaries, I was given Valium, and the whole experience took on a faintly dream-like quality.
While the word ‘transplant’ suggests eyebrows that have been removed from some hapless donor and re-housed on an entirely different face, the procedure would actually use hair from my own head. First, the surgeons took a narrow strip (yes, including skin) from the back of my head, which matched the texture of my existing eyebrow hair as closely as possible.
It sounds gruesome, but I can honestly report that the only slight discomfort was from the initial injection to administer the local anaesthetic, no worse than an injection at the dentist’s surgery.
The strip from the back of my head was then painstakingly dissected under a microscope. The Doctor anticipated that the small section of scalp would yield about 300-500 sections of hair grafts.
The majority of these tiny grafts would be single hairs with roots still attached. But some would be double hairs, so I could expect around 600-700 hairs to be added to my brows in total. It was far more hair than I had expected. My, I’d soon be able to give Cara Delevingne a run for her money! Next, following a light lunch, I returned to the operating chair for the grafts to be transplanted.
Another dose of local anaesthetic, and the hairs were inserted into small holes made in my brow-line using a fine needle. Two surgeons worked side by side, one using a microscope to pluck hairs from the strip, which was by now resting in a sterile dish, the other implanting hair into my brow.
Then, two hours later, the moment of truth. I was passed a mirror. Oh dear. My eyelids were swollen and my eyebrows looked like a dot matrix of tiny scabs with rather long dark blonde hairs protruding from them.
Thank heavens I’d taken the clinic’s advice to bring along a selection of caps, scarves and bandanas so I could experiment with how best to cover my bloodied brows before leaving the clinic. This was definitely not a look to unveil on the late- afternoon train back to London.
Each time you pull out a hair, you run the risk of pulling out a bit of root. Over time, this leads to the hair getting increasingly fine and, in many cases, eventually stops growing entirely
The Doctor reassured me the scabs would start to fall off after about a week. I was not to worry if the hairs protruding from the scabs fell off too (although sometimes they don’t). Even when they fall out, the all-important roots are still in place, he explained.
I was not to pick at the scabs nor engage in any vigorous physical activity likely to dislodge them, he warned. I was to use a prescribed shampoo on my scalp for five days after surgery.
I would need two or three pillows for the first few nights, in addition to regular applications of ice-packs to help ease the swelling from where they had removed my hair.
New hairs, promised The Doctor, would start to come through eight to 16 weeks after the procedure. And in just six to eight months, I would be the proud owner of a new set of brows.
If the occasional rogue hair started growing at an odd angle, I could remove it by plucking it repeatedly until it refused to grow back. The important thing to remember, he added, was that the hair in my new brows still thought they were on my head. Head hair grows at around a centimetre per month. My brows would grow to a hideously long length, he explained, so I should be sure to trim them every week or so.
A couple of days later, the swelling had disappeared. The only challenge now was to keep my scary, bloodied brows hidden from public view until the scabs fell off.
Along came Kate Middleton, Keira Knightley and Cara Delevingne with unashamedly unadulterated brows
This was no easy task. Have you tried pulling a bandana so low over your face it completely hides your brow-line? It’s virtually impossible. You either end up with it covering your face entirely or sitting just above your brows, drawing even more attention to them.
I got some very funny looks from mums at the school gate and shop assistants, and consequently developed a nice line in talking to people while staring at their shoes.
However, within seven days — as promised — the scabs had gone. A few hairs went, too, but I didn’t worry, as I knew the roots were firmly implanted. I had worried whether I would be a suitable candidate for the op, because unlike over-zealous tweezer wielders, I’d never owned a decent brow in the first place.
But the transplant procedure would be exactly the same for me as for someone whose sparse brows had been caused by over-plucking.
In the case of the pluckers, each time you pull out a hair, you run the risk of pulling out a bit of root. Over time, this leads to a decrease in root size meaning the hair gets increasingly wispy and fine and, in many cases, eventually stops growing entirely.
Over the next few weeks, I started to forget I’d ever had the operation — until the hairs started to grow back.
That was in early November. Since then, hair after hair has sprouted and grown and I have diligently trimmed them so they’re not too long.
With the passing of every month, my brows got thicker. And finally, today I find myself with a pair of gorgeously luscious eyebrows, which I LOVE.
Friends, who can’t quite tell what’s changed on my face, keep saying how well I look. My new eyebrows give me so many options. I could dye them (although I haven’t yet). I can pencil them. I can gel them or wax them to give them a lovely, glossy, sheen.
They make a frame for my eyes, and I wear less eye make-up now, as I somehow feel a bit more ‘done’ when I wake up. Occasionally, I do forget to trim them, but never for so long that I might end up looking like Denis Healey.
So to that girl who bullied me all those years for having no eyebrows: ha! Look at these beauties! I bet mine are much, much better than yours.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an important date with a Mac Veluxe brow liner and a pair of nail scissors.