There was a time when beards seemed like a hideous artefact from the 1970s, something to gawp at in old family photos like bell-bottom trousers or 1980s perms.
But now the beard is back in favour, and in Brooklyn New York – the US equivalent to London’s trendy East End – young men are paying up to $7,000 (£4,206) for beard transplants.
Dr Yael Halaas, a facial plastic surgeon based in Manhattan, said on Wednesday that increasing numbers of men in their late 20s and early 40s are undergoing the procedure.
They arm themselves with photos of actors like Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Gosling to show Dr Halaas what they want to look like, he said.
“The demand for it has definitely increased,” agreed Dr Jeffrey Epstein, a New York facial plastic surgeon who said he did 175 beard transplant procedures in 2013.
“One reason is that whole hipster, casual way people like to look.”
The process involves transplanting hair from the top of the head to the patient’s face under local anaesthetic.
Men generally undergo the surgery because they are unable to grow full bears themselves, sometimes due to the effects of acne scarring.
But while 90 percent of the transplanted hair tends to flourish, it can take up to 10 months to see the full fuzzy result, Dr Halaas said.
“They are young people who live in Brooklyn, look cool and hip and tend to work in the visual arts,” Dr Halaas added.
“I've had pork-pie hats in my office and that kind of beige and olive wardrobe they tend to wear.”
But some New York hipsters who try to hide that they have inauthentic beards, travel as far as Florida to undergo the one-day transformation without raising suspicions.
“We're seeing Brooklyn hipsters,” said Glenn Charles, a cosmetic surgeon from Boca Raton, Florida, who said a third of his beard transplant patients are from New York.
“They are hiding away for a little while. It takes a week or so to heal up so you'll have remnants of the surgery show for a week.”
Some men request busy bears, while others opt for the soul patch – a square of hair under the lower lip, said Dr Charles.
Additional reporting by ReutersReuse content