Surgical Hair Restoration: What to Look for in a Surgeon

Realize that hair transplantation is a team effort. During your procedure the surgeon will remove the donor tissue from the back of your scalp, suture the area closed, and then hand the tissue to his or her technicians to dissect it into grafts. The grafts are then placed by a team of technicians with the guidance of the surgeon. This practice of using medical technicians to perform hair transplantation as a team effort is what makes it possible to perform large sessions that place thousands of grafts in a single procedure.

To begin your search, you might contact the International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons (http://www.iahrs.org), 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 and surgical teams are not equal in their skill and technique.

Next, ask prospective surgeons how long they have been working with their team. The larger clinics have a much higher staff turnover rate, so it's usually best to go with the smaller individual practitioner or group. Also, the better medical technicians usually gravitate to the smaller practices.

You should also keep the following in mind:

1. Can your hair transplant doctor provide you with a minimum of 10 sets of before and after photos taken at the same angle, the same background, and the same lighting? These picture specifications are important to ensure that there are no possible discrepancies when looking at individual cases.

Be sure that the photos provide a clear view of the hairline, as well as the mid anterior scalp (the top between the hair line and crown). Also, ask if the doctor can provide you with photographs of donor scars, which are left behind on the back of the scalp after the strip of hair-bearing tissue is removed for transplantation.

2. Ask for the names and phone numbers of at least six patients you can contact to discuss their experiences with the hair transplant physician and staff that you are considering. If possible, ask to speak with two physicians who have had the procedure performed by the hair transplant doctor you are researching.

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Last but not least, ask to meet patients who have similar hair and skin characteristics as you. It is very important to view patients with these similar characteristics to assess the hair transplant physician's ability to provide you with a realistic and beneficial outcome.

3. If the hair transplant doctor or hair transplant group you are considering claims to be performing follicular unit hair transplantation, ask the following questions:

a. Are the grafts microscopically dissected?
b. Do all the technicians use stereo-microscopes?
c. How long have the technicians been using microscopes to dissect follicular units?
d. How many stereo-microscopes are being used during a procedure?
e. Does your hair transplant doctor use a single-bladed knife to excise the donor strip? You want the answer to be "yes."

4. Contact your state medical board to see if any complaints have been filed against the hair transplant doctor or hair transplant group.

5. During your initial consultation, be sure to meet with the hair transplant doctor who will be performing your surgery. If your hair transplant doctor is not available, leave immediately and do not have a hair transplant performed by that hair transplant physician or hair transplant group. If you meet with a "medical consultant" remember the following:

a. The consultant should be there to provide you with basic information on the hair transplant procedure.
b. He or she is most likely not a medical professional and should not provide you with specific medical or surgical recommendations.
c. Consultants do have their place in this field, but cannot replace a consultation with a medical professional.

6. Is your hair transplant doctor's practice dedicated solely to surgical hair restoration? If not, what percentage of his/her practice is?


Published on March 1, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from the American Hair Loss Association
©2010 American Hair Loss Association. All rights reserved

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