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What should I look for in a doctor that does hair transplants?

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In real estate, the most important thing is location, location, location. In hair transplant doctors, the most important thing is experience, experience, experience. You should look for someone who has years of experience in performing surgical procedures, such as a general surgeon, a plastic surgeon, or a dermatologist who does surgery. On top of that, you would want someone with years of experience doing hair transplants, and preferably someone who does that exclusively. You would also want to know what type of technique he/she uses, and only go with someone who does state of the art follicular unit transplants. You would want to know about the medical assistants that work with the doctor, since they are critical to the operative results. Hair transplantation is such a labor intensive operation that no doctor can do it alone; he or she needs help, and the assistants must be as good in their part of the operation as the doctor is in his/her part. The other thing that is important is that you see doctors’ work, preferably at a open house situation where you can actually see surgery being performed and see actual patients that they have operated on, and look at the result in person, not just in pictures. You need to spend time with the doctor, have your questions answered fully and with candor. You must have full confidence in him or her, and be assured that they are not just someone who wants to sell you something.

 

Why can’t you just buy on price? All that a hair transplant surgeon does is puts hair follicles into holes, so what’s the big deal?

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Great question and an important one as well. We are all sensitive to price and there is no doubt that if you can buy the ‘car’ cheaper from one dealer, why pay the higher price from another dealer. The higher price dealers try to sell service, but the reality is that a Lexus is a Lexus and you can get maintenance from any authorized dealer so you could buy the car over the internet and save thousands of dollars. A better question to ask: Why is a hair transplant (or any cosmetic procedure) different from buying a Lexus at the lowest price you can get?

I think that you now might understand where I am going with this question. How does one value cosmetic surgery services by particular doctors in a comparative shopping viewpoint? When you are buying the services of a surgeon for cosmetic surgery, you are buying:

  1. Unique surgical training
  2. Artistic judgments, experience and talents
  3. facilities and skilled staff

In a major cosmetic procedure (like a face lift for example), it often takes years to get the experience ‘under your belt’ to make a great cosmetic surgeon. Doctors just starting off are taking their skills from training and finely honing them, often ‘practicing’ the techniques that they accumulated in training. For a hair transplant surgeon, the same is true. I see hairlines that are not quite right, that are not well placed, that are not balanced, not distributed properly or placed in the proper alignment and/or are not delicate or subtle. So putting hairs into holes without skills and artistic judgments may give you an Edsel rather than a Lexus and everyone (unfortunately) knows what an Edsel looks like.

In a hair transplant, there are issues of ethics and judgments on the extent of surgery, the indications when to do it and when not to do it, how much to do, how often to do it, what is the particular variables of each patient when it comes to planning, and what risks should be taken for what gain, etc… Doctors who cut corners in recruiting patients have to employ people who sell for them and substitute their expensive time to the more cost effective time of a salesmen. As long as you have the money, a salesman will tell you that you need the surgery in order to take your money. In my practice, I turn down more work than I perform because I know when to do surgery and do not value the almighty dollar over what is best for my patient. This is not a plug for me, but a statement that a doctor’s value is in his knowledge and honesty in placing his patient’s interests above his financial interests.

In modern hair transplant surgery, the team is as important as the surgeon. Experienced team members are critical to producing a successful hair transplant. Novice doctors get hair transplant failures on a significant scale, but unfortunately, the consumer only learns of these failures 6-8 months after the surgery was done because it takes that amount of time for the hair to grow no matter who does the surgery. By the time a patient may find out that the transplant was a failure, his check has cleared the doctor’s bank and the doctor may not be in business anymore.

Take a look at newhair.com, read our history, our publications, and request a free copy of the book we wrote on transplantation. Look at the pictures of our patients and their results (over 200 on our site). We have written the authoritative articles for the repair of hair transplant problems. Be sure to thoroughly check out your doctor. With our medical group, you can meet a dozen or more patients at our monthly open house events and judge for yourself the value of what your dollar buys. There is no need to overpay, just to get real value and that is the power you, as a consumer, hold.

 

What type of training does a hair transplant doctor need?

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This is a difficult question to answer properly, so as I have lots of room and time to consider the question thoroughly, I will answer it in great detail. Read as much as you wish.

The Hair Restoration industry has a society called the ISHRS (International Society of Hair Restoration Surgeons) and they are trying to provide both the public and the doctors who ‘specialize’ in hair restoration a way to define this, both for those who call themselves specialists and those doctors who want to enter the field and learn how to become a hair restoration surgeon. As you may notice the way I started answering this question, I have divided the answer into two categories: The existing doctors who call themselves specialists (like myself) and the new doctors wanting to get into the field.

Existing Restoration Doctors: The existing group of hair restoration surgeons come from a wide diversity of specialties. Dermatology was the field that produced the original hair transplant process in the late 1950s, so this specialty has officially hosted the field ever since. The text books are largely written by Dermatologists and the leading medical journals in Dermatology have articles about advancements in the field with great frequency. In fact, most of the articles written by New Hair Institute doctors have been published in Dermatologic medical publications.

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