The risks of having a complication or dying from a surgical procedure is small in some cases but clearly not insignificant. I found the following article which not only outlines the problems concerning the long-term risks of any major surgery, but also the article had some suggestions for doctors on how to go about assessing the risks. There is no easy solution.
Introduction of article: “Owing to increases in life expectancy, the patients presenting for surgery are older, and have more co-morbidities. Worldwide, 3–4% of patients die within 2 months of major surgery, with increased mortality and morbidity in high-risk surgical candidates, including the elderly and medically unwell.[1,2] In Australia and New Zealand, older patients having non-cardiac surgery have a 20% risk of serious complication and a 5% risk of dying within 30 days of surgery. The cost to patients and the community is enormous. In a cohort of 806 534 Medicare beneficiaries having surgery in America, 51.5% of patients discharged after a surgical procedure had either died or been readmitted to hospital within a year, and 70.5% of re-admissions were for a medical problem.”
(*) Above quote was taken from the British Journal of Anaesthesia, 2014;112(6):955-957., “Not Fit for a Haircut … How Should We Assess Fitness and Stratify Risk for Surgery?” by M. A. Shulman, B. R. Thompson
As part of the informed consent for any surgical procedure, even a hair transplant, patients must fully understand the risks to life that confront them. I am aware of two deaths from hair transplant surgery, probably the result of doctors inexperienced with the use of medications such a Xylocaine (Lidocaine). One of those cases involved a non physician involved with surgery. That person is still out there offering discount hair transplants last time I checked. How he is still allowed to conduct business is beyond my understanding.
Many years ago, I was the guest speaker at a major medical meeting where the audience numbered about 300. At the end of my speech, a doctor came to the microphone from the audience and ask the following question (from the best of my memory) “I am seeing some of my patients complaining of numbness of their fingers and lips. Have you seen that complaint?” I asked him to see me after the meeting and found out that as his number of grafts were increasing with each surgery, he was increasing his dose of Xylocaine. Numbness of the lips is a sign of Xylocaine overdose and it may be followed by seizures and/or a drop in blood pressure. When I told him, he was shocked and relieved. He asked me why I did not get that side effect. I told him that more anesthesia was unnecessary with large hair transplant sessions. He thanked me.
Doctors must command every medication they use and the complications of that medication. Even hair transplant surgery has its risks. People have hair transplants even with known heart disease, kidney disease or liver disease. These diseases could impact the results of a hair transplant surgery and I am sure you would want to know that you doctor is prepared for all such eventualities. Both Dr. Pak and I are routinely certified for Advanced Cardiac Life Support every two years as part of our preparedness. Fortunately, in the 24 years of performing hair transplant surgery at NHI, even thought we have done hair transplants on many men over 80, some with known cardiac disease we have never had a complications from a hair transplant procedure that required our advanced (non hair transplant related) training.