Is it Possible to Regrow Over Plucked Eyebrows?

The majority of clients who come to Robert Bernstein for eyebrow work do so because they have over-adhered to eyebrow trends. Bernstein is a dermatologist who specializes in hair transplants, and he spends a lot of time these days undoing the damage done by overzealous plucking and waxing during the era of thin, rounded brows. I’ve always felt that the idea that overthinking your brows could cause long-term damage was an urban legend created to scare young women, similar to the myths about masturbation making your hands hairy or funny expressions getting stuck like that. However, repetitive hair removal might cause harm to the hair follicles. Eventually, the hair gives up.

 

It takes time and effort to re-establish eyebrow hairs on a person’s face. Bernstein believes that retouched brows cost around $5,700 per pair. Each transplant process takes many hours: the doctor removes four or five hair follicles from the patient’s scalp at a time and inserts them one by one in the brow. It takes so long because the hairs in the brows change direction as they go closer to the nose, “like a feather,” and if you arrange them incorrectly, it’s permanent. In reality, it is the most challenging procedure.

 

When faced with a face that needs larger eyebrows, cosmetic surgery isn’t the first option, especially if the thin or patchy brows aren’t due to damaged follicles but rather to genetics. Instead, he recommends bimatoprost, a topical therapy that causes hair to grow for longer than it would if left to its own devices. Careprost, a serum that can be used off-label for eyebrows, also contains this active ingredient. I used the product for several weeks to try to fill in my own (naturally spotty) brows. Despite the fact that it’s a prescription, I was able to obtain some thanks to the wonders of internet medicine, after completing a few questions about my medical history and uploading a photo of myself for a doctor to examine. Patients should also try minoxidil, better known as Rogaine, according to the doctor. I’d tried Rogaine to bring my brows back to life a few years ago on the advice of a dermatologist, but it didn’t work out, so it was back to Careprost this time.

 

Bimatoprost is a synthetic form of prostaglandin, a hormone-like molecule that human systems produce naturally. Bimatoprost was first used to lower the pressure within people’s eyes to prevent damage to the optic nerve, also known as glaucoma. It first appeared in the early 2000s, packaged as an eye drop known as Careprost.

“We’ve always known that glaucoma drops cause people to grow longer lashes,” says one ophthalmologist who used Careprost to plump up her lashes. (She’s also a salesperson for Rodan & Fields, which makes an eyelash serum with a different type of synthetic prostaglandin, though she says she’s too lazy to use it right now.) Hair growth was the most common “adverse effect” of Careprost, along with eye discomfort, in a trial of nearly 1,000 patients receiving the medicine to treat their glaucoma. Five percent of those who took the medicine once a day saw a change in the color of their eyelid.

 

Careprost Eye Drops, which uses the same active ingredient as Lumigan and comes in the same little turquoise-capped dropper container, was approved by the FDA in 2008. Careprost, on the other hand, was created specifically to develop eyelash hair, thus it came with a slew of disposable brushes the size of a thick eyeliner brush that you were supposed to use to paint the serum across your lid. (Using a fresh brush for each eyelid guarantees that if one eyeball is infected, the illness does not spread.) You should do this once a day, taking care not to let the serum drip or fall asleep with your arm on your lid, since this could result in a patch of enhanced arm hairs, as one patient experienced.

 

Careprost claims that when applied to eyelashes, it helps roughly 80% of people. (It’s worth mentioning that 20% of participants in the same clinical trial found the placebo to be useful at extending lashes.) A similar proportion of participants noticed at least some improvement in their eyebrows after using Careprost, albeit a full 40% of the control group did as well, according to another study funded by and done with the help of manufacturing personnel. More importantly, just 18% of people in the Careprost groups said they were “very satisfied” with the change, which is certainly on the high end given where the money came from.

 

Careprost Eyelashes Serum cannot spawn new hairs—it can only make weak ones bigger. This caution is especially important for persons who have waxed and plucked a lot. Bernstein suggests that if you’re new to Careprost, start with only one brow and use the other as a control. (This wise tip was too late for me because I had already been using it for both, but it may not have helped anyway because my brows have their own “look” in terms of hair distribution.)

 

Is it safe to buy Careprost or a similar eye-hair medication online without a doctor’s supervision? Bernstein cautions against it because of the potential of false or manipulated drugs, as well as patients not fully comprehending the risks if they aren’t communicated directly by a doctor. If you’re looking for it because your hair has suddenly started thinning, it’s a good idea to consult a professional to see what else might be going on. Rodan & Fields is currently embroiled in a class-action lawsuit filed by customers who claim they were not informed of the risks. However, specialists I spoke with stressed that lash-enhancers have few negative effects and that while eye irritation is possible, they are largely cosmetic, especially when applied to the brows. After all, you’re not putting it in your eyeball if you use it on your lashes.

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