They hail from the trendy neighborhoods of Bushwick or Bedford-Stuyvscent, they hold jobs in advertising or Web design and they seem the very model of the modern Brooklyn hipster.
Yet there is one thing they lack — and all the skinny jeans and tweed blazers in Williamsburg will not make up the deficit. They need a beard.
To remedy this deficiency, increasing numbers of would-be hipsters have begun visiting plastic surgery clinics in Manhattan to have facial hair transplants.
At a clinic a few blocks from Central Park, Dr. Yael Halaas used to fill her days performing Botox injections and facelifts on a largely female clientele. “But recently we’ve been seeing these young guys in their 20s who want beards,” she said.
Some have grown beards with patches missing, and in more extreme cases Halaas must start from scratch.
“Some men can’t grow a beard, particularly certain ethnicities,” she said. “Frequently, Asian men have difficulties, and some Hispanic men can also have a hard time to grow one.”
They live in Brooklyn, where eight out of 10 hip-cats prefer whiskers.
While many clinics offer hair transplants as treatment for baldness, transplants to the face “require a more artistic sensibility and technique,” Halaas said. During the surgery, which takes a day and is performed under local anesthetic, hairs are mined from the head, or individually removed and replanted in the face. She might perform 1,500 individual grafts “depending on what we are starting from.”
Patients often ask her to model their beards “after musicians from Indy bands whom I mostly haven’t heard of,” she said. She also gets requests from men who want beards that will help them to look more like the actors Jake Gyllenhaal or Ryan Gosling.
She has performed about 40 such procedures over the past year, and is by no means the only plastic surgeon in New York now engaged in upholstering the faces of trendy young men.
Several other plastic surgeons have reported the same demand for a procedure that can cost as much as $7,000.
The news provoked considerable surprise among members of the Gotham City Beard Alliance, a facial hair lobby group.
“I’m looking forward to talking about it at our next meeting,” said Joe Minkiewicz, 32, director of product development at the tech company Prolific Interactive. His beard measures eight inches from lip to tip.
“Hipster culture was meant to be underground, cutting-edge a couple of years ago,” he said. “Now it’s just like any other culture, and you are going to do whatever you have to, to fit into this mold. If that means having a great beard, then that’s what people do.”
However, he opposes the idea of getting one through surgery. “You should be comfortable with whatever growth you have,” he said.