Currently in the United States the field of surgical hair restoration is completely unregulated by both the government and the medical community. In the US any licensed physician can legally perform hair transplant surgery without any prior surgical training or accreditation of any kind. Every physician, MD or DO, has the legal right to pick up a scalpel and proclaim him/herself a qualified hair transplant surgeon. With that said, there are a handful of extremely skilled and ethical physicians performing excellent hair transplantation in this country. Their state of the art techniques are truly transforming lives. These physicians have had extensive training in surgical hair restoration and are at the top of their field.
The American Hair Loss Association fully endorses hair transplantation when performed by qualified, ethical physicians. However, finding a qualified hair transplant surgeon can be challenging. Do not underestimate the complexity of this important task. Consider the following advice:
" Avoid turning to the yellow pages when seeking out a hair transplant surgeon.
"Avoid referrals from your dermatologist or family practitioner.
While your family doctor or dermatologist might mean well, the fact is that most physicians in this country know very little about the scope and pitfalls of this demanding cosmetic procedure. Unless your doctor has personal experience with the hair transplant physician he is recommending, our advice would be to say thanks, but no thanks.
"Avoid referrals from your hair stylist.
In many cases hair stylists receive compensation from hair transplant surgeons for referrals. Be careful.
"Avoid large hair transplant groups or practices that employ or contract physicians to perform hair transplantation under a common umbrella.
"Avoid practices advertising through the use of television infomercials.
While these larger groups have the ability to buy public opinion through expensive and flashy television, print and radio marketing, their seemingly powerful presence in the market usually does not equate to superior surgical results. In general these organizations or businesses are considered by experts in the field to be “hair mills” regarding only their bottom line.
Remember, just because a “company” or “practice” claims to be one of the largest, does not mean that they are one of the best. Again, in most cases this could not be further from the truth.
The American Hair Loss Association recognizes that these large practices do employ some skilled and ethical physicians and that it is possible to attain satisfactory results. Avoiding disaster is only half the battle in your search for a hair transplant surgeon. There are many ethical physicians in the field whose work is at best mediocre. Mediocrity is not what you’re shooting for when it comes to a satisfactory hair transplant.
Now that you understand what to avoid let’s discuss what to look for when researching a hair transplant surgeon.
Reviewed by Paul J. McAndrews, MD