Dedicated Hair Restoration Clinics vs. General Plastic Surgeons: Where to Get the Best Hair Transplant
I have been a hair loss sufferer for the last ten years. As a woman, having a balding area is not the most flattering way to wake up in the morning. Like most people going in for a surgical procedure, you want to do all your research you can so you are informed and do it right the first time. After reading your hair restoration forum and others, I have come to believe that the value which you propose to provide is a lot less than what the average person getting a hair transplant is expecting to get. Your web site seems to be filled with shills from all your member doctors. When you repeat the same things over and over, naive people will tend to believe it.
I did a few consults with some “hair only” doctors and was not impressed. One of my friends said that her plastic surgeon also did hair transplants. I went to the plastic surgeon’s office and did not get the “hard sell” that I got with the hair docs. However, I was concerned because he did not specialize in only doing hair transplants.
The Doctor explained that he was a board certified plastic surgeon. He does breast augmentations, face lifts, liposuction, butt Implants, and even re-attaches hands and fingers as well as being on call at the local hospital for emergency facial surgery. He explained what it took to do a hair transplant and explained that on the level of plastic surgery, it was at the bottom of the list as far as the necessary skill level required to perform and outstanding hair transplant.
He explained that a lot of the current hair only docs are what he calls “used to be’s”, because they used to be some other kind of doctor and found out they could not make it in that field and then switched over to hair transplants. He said the barrier for entry into hair transplants was very minimal. You just needed to be an MD or even worse a DO with nothing special required. He told me to go with anyone who I feel comfortable with and have a high degree of confidence and that I would be happy afterward. But, he told me to look around and see the CV of the doctors who I am considering and see what their actual background is and, sure enough, they “used to be” something else. He also said that he would be very concerned that a surgeon was only capable of doing only one kind of procedure and then even more concerned if that surgeon/doctor/”used to be” then criticized you for even thinking of going to a physician who was capable of performing multiple kinds of procedures.
I also found out that the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgeons (ISHRS) and the other one is not a recognized board. You pay your dues and you become a member and then you can market to the lemmings. After getting a consult with a dermatologist friend of his, I ended up going with the plastic surgeon, got a nice little 1200 graft strip procedure and will be looking forward to my hair growth over the next 12 months. I asked him if he wanted me to promote him on a forum. His response was God no, telling my girlfriends would be enough.
For new patients considering a hair transplant, don’t let the scare tactics of the trolls/shills scare you off from going to a “board certified plastic surgeon”. It seems like anyone can become a hair transplant surgeon by attending a seminar and I am sure anyone can get skilled over time. But I would put more faith in a board certified plastic surgeon with a successful practice than a hair only doc who is struggling, no matter how may Golden Follicle awards they have.
1. Some of what you’ve said isn’t far off. There are people in the ISHRS who do work that would be ridiculed off of this and other forums where the consumers are educated just as there are people in the plastic surgery societies who do poor nose jobs and facelifts. And, as I tell the one or two people who visit each week who inquire about boards and societies, yes there is no recognized hair board by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Nor for that matter is there a recognized facial plastic board, despite me having done a facial plastic fellowship recognized by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (also not recognized by the ABMS) and the fact that I taught it at two universities. It’s sad but true, there are a lot of people in all specialties doing mediocre work and using marketing to overcome or de-emphasize it.
With regard to someone’s request for CV’s on websites. I used to have mine on our site but honestly, if someone came in and had studied it so much that they knew I won a bunch of awards for rat research and they were picking me to do their hair surgery or facelift because of that, I’d probably be concerned about their sanity. And, who really cares that I’ve given 60 talks and published 27 articles in peer reviewed journals? The customer/patient is more interested in the fact we have a pretty consistent track record of good results. You should be concerned with that as well.
2. The best consumer of any product, whether hair restoration, facelifts, jeep modifications (I found and chose my Jeep mechanic off of a similar Jeep forum), does significant research on their own, either before or after shopping in person at a store, doctor’s office etc. They don’t get swayed by a hard or soft sell. We virtually never call people who’ve been in, I tell people just to email or call when they are ready. The sun really will come up tomorrow, even if you don’t have work to do.
3. Particularly for a female needing hair…do research. You can search a number of posts by me preaching caution to females. Be careful.
4. If that doctor has done 1000 in 5 years, well he is either lying or doing a great job. Should be easy enough for you to see his results before making a decision. That’s more per year than I do. When I was a resident our best teacher always said: “If a doctor says he’s done x number of a specific challenging case, divide that in half for ego, and half again for accuracy”.
5. I agree with a number of the posters who generally say don’t go to someone who dabbles in hair. I used to dabble in hair. Sometimes you get a great result sometimes poor. The problem is, until you really have a team and make a decision to pay staff even if there are no cases, you just can’t have consistency. Hence, I don’t dabble in hair anymore. But every week I see people coming in from a doctor who dabbles in hair. Saw three yesterday from three different doctors. Two that I know and think are decent guys, but who don’t really focus on hair. For that matter you can’t really dabble in anything and be good at it, facelifts, noses, hair, real estate, flying, golf, parenting…
6. I do hair three days a week and faces two days a week. Does this make me better than just hair guys? Probably not. I personally think that on average I sew better than most people, but my reason for the mix is simply to do more than 1 thing all of the time. But I don’t do boobs one day, a mole the next, squeeze in a hair case, play golf, then do lipo. I’ve given up all of the things that I just never did frequently enough to most often get good results on (like lasers, fillers, fru fru procedures and others).
7. Hair is both hard and easy. With good donor hair and fixing a specific region of recipient scalp, most reputable clinics get good results 90-95% of the time (note, not 100%). Add in thinner donor hair, a tight scalp, a big recipient area, and financial issues, and it can be a challenge.
8. Lastly, I wish you the best. This forum is a great resource for patients. Use it and educate yourself as much as you can before you decide to A: have hair work done and B: before you pick a specific doctor.
Dr. William Lindsey
Editorial Assistant and Forum Co-Moderator for the Hair Transplant Network, the Coalition Hair Loss Learning Center, and the Hair Loss Q & A Blog.
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