July 1 2009, 2:30 pm PT | Posted in:
Selecting a doctor for any medical need has many common rules. You should look for a doctor who:
- Is caring and compassionate.
- Takes an interest in you as an individual.
- Takes the time to learn about your problem, listens to you and does not lecture you by imposing his/her views upon you.
- Is willing to educate you and bridge the gap between his/her knowledge and yours.
- Has excellent credentials in the specialty field you need.
- Has built a reputation of excellence in the field based on their results, and are recommended by family, friends, patients, or a physician that you trust.
When these attributes are applied to selecting a hair doctor, the same rules apply:
- Caring and compassionate– This starts when you first contact the office. How are you treated by the doctor’s staff on the phone? When you come to meet with the doctor, what is your first impression? Is the office clean and the staff friendly and organized? A caring doctor will meet with you and does not send a salesman in to gather information on your needs as his first bonding experience with you is in taking your history and learning about your concerns. The consultation agenda should be set by you with the purpose of establishing a basic patient/physician relationship. Good communication between both parties is key.
- Taking interest in you– Does your doctor care about you by showing real concern? Does he look into your eyes when speaking with you? Does he treat you with respect? Do you get the opportunity to share who you are and what you do with him? Does he want to learn about your lifestyle, your family, your culture?
- Time– The time the doctor schedules for you will tell you much about how he values you as a patient. For all new patients, I usually schedule a full hour for getting to know the patient, so I get enough time to examine the patient and listen to their concerns.
- Education– The doctor should educate, but not lecture, the patient during the consult once the issues have been presented. The first step in educating the patient is making sure that a detailed history of the patient is taken, understanding what has brought the patient to the office, followed by an examination of the affected areas. Just like a visit to your primary care physician, the examination is crucial. Your doctor should look closely at your hair, use a video magnifier to determine how far the thinning extends and this should lead him to an assessment of the point where the balding is advancing to.
- Credentials in the field – A heart surgeon should be well trained with years of experience before he works on your heart, just as a hair surgeon should be well trained and have substantial experience in the hair transplant field before they work on your head. What credentials should you look for? There is no Board Certification in hair restoration that is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Only physicians who have met the standards of one of the 24 specialties recognized by the ABMS boards can call themselves “Board Certified”, and you can check on the ABMS website if they are indeed ‘Board Certified’ and in what specialty. You can also check with your state medical board to verify license status and education.
- Reputation based on results and personal recommendations– Talk to your friends and family to see if they have had any experience with physicians in the specialty that you need. Often there is an internet forum that discusses personal experiences with physicians, but you need to be careful that the site treats all posters the same (not just those that discuss advertisers or sponsors). Some forums may allow fake or misleading postings in order to promote particular physicians. Keep in mind that many people only post when they have something negative to say, but a physician that has many negative postings may in fact deserve their reputation. It is often said that a bad heart surgeon buries his bad results, but in the hair transplant field in particular, assessing the skills of a hair surgeon is easier since everything that is done by the surgeon sits on the head of the patient for the world to see. You can not hide a bad hair transplant. The best way to determine the quality of a surgeon’s work is to meet many of the surgeon’s patients, look carefully at the results from all angles, and ask yourself if those are the type of results you’d want on your head. By meeting patients directly, you can see not only what you are going to get from a hair transplant, but you can speak one–on-one and get the inside scoop on the doctor’s character, integrity, and skills.