Surgical Hair Restoration: Surgeons' Credentials

While the credentials presented by a hair transplant surgeon might seem impressive, it is important to fully understand exactly what these credentials represent.

This list provides a detailed explanation of possible credentials, education, and affiliations that may be cited by those in the field of surgical hair restoration.


Currently, hair transplant surgery or surgical hair restoration has no approved medical specialty board sanctioned or certification process governed by The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The AMBS is an organization of 24 approved medical specialty boards of which The American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery is not a part. The intent of the certification of physicians is to provide assurance to the public that those certified by an ABMS Member Board have successfully completed an approved training program and an evaluation process assessing their ability to provide quality patient care in the specialty.

If a physician claims to be "board certified" in surgical hair restoration or "certified" by the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery (ABHRS), he or she is not board certified in this field. While the American Hair Loss Association recognizes that the ABHRS does give a written exam to their members, our position is that claiming board certification (when the ABHRS is not yet recognized by the ABMS) is misleading to the public.


The education provided by most fellowship programs in this field is minimal at best. It is important to note that most fellowship programs in this field are used for promotional purposes for the group or practice that is providing the "fellowship." Also be aware that most groups who offer fellowship programs are not currently teaching state-of-the-art hair transplantation techniques.

The American Hair Loss Association recognizes that there are a very small handful of surgeons who underwent fellowships with truly skilled and ethical physicians and practices. However, this is not commonplace in this field.


The American Hair Loss Council: This nonprofit organization was founded by nonsurgical hair replacement business owners. The hair loss consumer should not look to the AHLC as an educational resource. Membership or being on the board constitutes no professional qualifications in this field.


The information provided to the public by the AHLC is remarkably outdated and can be dangerous if followed in some instances. It is not affiliated with the American Hair Loss Association. We recommend avoiding the AHLC when researching medical treatment for hair loss.

American Society of Hair Restoration Surgeons: The ASHRS is another educational organization created by physicians to further the field.

According to its member application, "membership in the American Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ASHRS) does not qualify a physician as being certified to practice hair restoration surgery and that membership alone in the said society is for educational purposes only."

The International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons: The IAHRS is a consumer organization that selectively screens skilled and ethical hair transplant surgeons. The IAHRS does not offer an open membership policy to doctors practicing hair transplantation, and is the only group that recognizes that all surgeons are not equal in their skill and technique.

Its elite membership seeks to represent the best in the discipline, the true leaders in the field of surgical hair restoration. The IAHRS's goal is to provide a safe place for prospective patients to choose a surgeon based on skill and not on their ability to buy public opinion through advertising.

The American Hair Loss Association recognizes IAHRS membership as an elite credential in this field.

International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery: The ISHRS is a nonprofit voluntary organization of more than 700 hair transplant doctors. The ISHRS provides continuing education to physicians specializing in hair transplant surgery.

Membership in the ISHRS does not constitute competence in the field and should not be considered a qualifying credential. Currently there are no set standards for admittance into the ISHRS. Therefore any doctor performing hair transplantation can become an "active" member of this strictly educational organization.

The American Hair Loss Association acknowledges the tremendous value of the ISHRS in the field of hair transplantation. However, its educational efforts should not be confused with any kind of credentialing process.

World Hair Society: Little is known about The World Hair Society; what it has contributed to the field is unclear. Even so, it is found as a credential on many physicians' resumes.

Published on March 1, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from the American Hair Loss Association
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