Today, hair transplants can be so natural looking that even professional hair stylists can't detect them. But be careful! The skill and experience of hair restoration physicians vary as do their results. Because physician selection is vital in determining the kind of success and quality one can achieve from the final result, I've provided some tips below on how to research, interview and select a quality hair transplant surgeon.
Research: Unfortunately, the hair restoration industry is highly unregulated by the medical profession. Thus, hair loss suffering men and women considering hair surgery are encouraged to research and learn all they can about the benefits, limitations and potential risks associated with the procedure and how to rest assured that they've chosen a physician with the necessary experience and skills to give them the kind of results they want and deserve.
Making Informed Decisions: Don't be hasty. While hair loss can be emotionally difficult and even devastating for some, make educated and informed decisions based on knowledge and experience rather than gut and emotion.
Using the Internet: The internet can be your friend and a quality source of information. But be careful: not everything you read online (or offline) is true. The internet is full of marketing hype and tactics promoting dreams of restoring one's glorious and lustrous locks but seldom delivering on its promise.
Choosing Doctors Based on Skill and Experience: Select a physician based on skill, experience and a proven consistency in producing only natural looking results. Choosing a hair transplant surgeon based on the lowest price and proximity alone can lead and has lead to complete disaster.
Having viewed countless patient photos and experiences on our popular hair loss forum over the last several years, I've read many regrets and seen many horrific looking results from patients who chose a local, low cost surgeon or clinic.
Note: I don't mean to imply that all local and low cost hair transplant surgeons and clinics are doing subpar work. In fact, some may be highly skilled surgeons with years of experience. However, selecting a surgeon solely based on price and location is a lot like gambling. Thus, it's better to research each physician you are considering.
Physician Selection Criteria: While determining the best physician for you is somewhat subjective, there are several objective criterion that most reputable hair restoration physicians share. These include:
- A commitment and proven ability in performing today's follicular unit hair transplant technique: Follicular units are groupings of hair as they occur naturally in the scalp, typically in groups of 1, 2, 3 or 4 hairs. While some reputable hair transplant surgeons may cut and use a small quantity of larger double follicular unit (DFU), today's gold standard procedure is follicular unit hair transplantation.
- Preparing follicular unit grafts under microscopic dissection: Studies suggest that using cutting and dissecting grafts using microscopes lessens the rate of transection (irreparable damage) to follicles, maximizing the amount of viable hair for transplanting.
- Performing exclusive or mostly all hair transplant procedures - As they say, practice makes perfect. Thus, surgeons you are considering should be dedicated to the field of hair restoration rather than simply providing it once in awhile along with a laundry list of other cosmetic procedures. Some dedicated hair surgeons may provide other cosmetic surgeries too. However, in my opinion and experience, it's better to select a surgeon who performs a large number of successful hair transplant procedures each year and is dedicated to its evolution and success.
- Years of experience in performing hair transplant surgery with exceptional results, growth rates, artistry, and naturalness - New surgeons may be doing excellent work, but without a proven history of results to showcase, nobody can know for sure. Also, while the ability to provide a dense, full looking head of hair is a simple matter of supply and demand, a patient's hair transplant results should always look natural, which includes an artistic, natural looking hairline that nobody could detect as surgery.
- An excellent reputation amongst patients and their peers - While all surgeons have cases of less than optimal results, a quality surgeon should be well respected amongst his/her patients and peers.
- A physician's medical background, board certifications, organizations they belong to, memberships, awards, honors and credentials - Most of these are supplemental and should never be considered over and above the previously listed criteria. However, a hair restoration physician with a strong medical background, extensive training and memberships in solid hair restoration related organizations can be an indication of the physician's dedication to ongoing education and patient satisfaction.
View Patient Results Online and In Person: A hair restoration physician may look good on paper and you may even develop a good connection with him/her. However, viewing patients results online or even meeting them and viewing their results in person is invaluable. You can use hair loss discussion forums to find, talk to and even meet patients in your area or you can ask physicians you are considering for a list of referrals. Note that any list of referals you receive from a physician will be hand selected as opposed to finding and meeting patients yourself.
While choosing a quality hair restoration physician can increase your chances at getting the kind of results you want, hair transplant surgery is like any other cosmetic procedure. There are no guarantees and there are limitations and risks associated with this procedure. Thus, it's imperative to learn about the risks and develop realistic expectations before making a decision to proceed with hair transplant surgery.
Written and Published By
Bill - Managing Publisher of the Hair Transplant Network, the Hair Loss Learning Center, the Hair Loss Q&A Blog and the Hair Loss Forum