I saw a patient last week who had a hair transplant surgery from a local doctor. He went in for a 400 graft procedure and during the middle of the procedure (while under sedation), he was told that the doctor was able to remove about 1000 grafts more than he paid for. He was asked if he wanted to pay for the extra grafts for a special “deal”, because the alternative was to throw them away. What would you do? He was sedated, but he wasn’t crazy to let the hairs go to waste. So he reluctantly agreed to pay more for the hair.
As a surgeon, I understand that the harvested grafts cannot be an exact number that was planned. While it does happen on occasion, the actual harvested grafts are either over or under the estimate. We (NHI) do not throw away any grafts (even if the patient cannot pay) and we clearly inform all our patients well before the surgery, before they are sedated. We account for every single graft and if the actual number of grafts is short by even one, we give the appropriate refund. I have always made this point clear to my patients and for those who are on a tight budget, I try to keep the estimated harvest amount slightly under. But if the actual number of grafts is over the estimate, then it is my issue and I do not let the patient worry about the fate of those extra hairs while they are still under sedation. I transplant the extra grafts for them. The point I am trying to make is that it should never come to this, and the patient and doctor should know what to expect and the range of payment before the surgery is even considered.
Shady business practices are unfortunately a hurdle in our everyday lives. Physicians are generally held to a higher standard and are more trusted by the general public than most professionals, so it is disappointing to hear stories like that. Even hair transplant surgery is a buyer beware market.