People that suffer from progressive hair loss often turn to a hair transplant to address the issue of thinning hair on the scalp. It is recommended that they utilize the services of a board-certified surgeon that is properly trained and experienced in performing a hair transplant. However, some patients decide to travel abroad to try and get the results they desire from a hair restoration procedure. They are lured by lower prices but experts warn that the end result might be unnatural in appearance and of such poor quality that hair transplant revision surgery might need to be performed to fix the results of the first surgery. Because this is a growing problem all over the world, including Britain, the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) is taking steps to address the issue.
Hair Transplant Patients are warned in Britain
According to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, illegal clinics are tricking British customers with professional looking websites along with false claims and guarantees. They claim they can provide the desired results for as little as $809 (American currency) to perform a hair transplant procedure.
The ISHRS is also issuing a warning to patients that travel to overseas clinics as part of a “medical tourism” trip (patients travel out of their home country to undergo surgery). These patients run the risk of having their hair transplant performed by a person without the proper training to provide quality results.
Dr. Ricardo Mejia, chair of the ISHRS unlicensed practice of medicine committee, told The Daily Mail newspaper that the “marketing tactics are deceptive as it appears like a team of professional doctors with excellent testimonials. However, the reality is your surgery may be done by someone with no medical training. The demand for hair transplants is so high; reports are that taxi cab drivers and Syrian refugees do the surgery in some overseas countries.”
As part of their campaign to warn patients about the dangers of unlicensed hair transplants, the ISHRS has been showing photos of male and female patients left with wounds on the scalp, patients who had too much hair harvested from their donor area on the head and hair restoration procedures that failed to meet the medical standards necessary to perform the operation.
Hair Transplants Continue to Grow in Popularity
Hair transplants have continued to grow in popularity in recent years. Numbers revealed by the ISHRS show there were 635,000 hair restoration procedures performed as recently as 2017. This number is an increase of 181% in the past decade.
The cost of a hair transplant is anywhere from $9000-$16,000. The final cost depends on the amount of grafts used by the surgeon, the cost per graft charged by the doctor, the type of hair transplant performed (FUE or FUT) and the area of the country where the hair restoration is performed.
Safety can be an Issue with Hair Transplants
The price of a hair transplant is sometime beyond the means of patients so they search online for deals and discounted surgeries. Some of the most popular destinations for hair transplant patients include Turkey, Mexico and India. In areas of the world such as Britain, the regulation of medical facilities is strict. However, the regulation of medical clinics in other countries might not be as strict in providing safety for patients.
For example, it was recently reported that a 43-year-old man at a private clinic in Mumbai, India, died after a 12-hour hair transplant procedure. While the official cause of death has not been confirmed, it is speculated that he died of an allergic reaction.
While not all complications result in the death of the patient. Dr. Mejia does warn the public that “patients are the ones that suffer when they realize too late who carried out their surgery. They end up with botched complications and scars, and hairlines that are not normal and are disfiguring.”
In order to better educate the public about the need to be careful when choosing a hair restoration surgeon, the ISHRS has started a “Black Market Awareness” campaign that is designed to try and stop rogue hair transplants in areas of the world such as Turkey.
A spokesperson for the ISHRS stated that the “rogue clinics and hospitals that facilitate illegal or unethical practices have created an expanding black market hair transplant underworld of sorts. Surgeries are performed by non-doctors with little or no training, and are causing irreparable harm.”
Once a botched hair transplant takes place, hair transplant surgeons are left to deal with the less than ideal results by performing revision surgery on patients. The amount of hair transplant revision surgery that is needed depends on the amount of scarring produced by the original procedure as well as any wounds or damaged hair left by the performance of the hair restoration surgery.
In general, a poorly performed hair transplant can create unnatural results and scars and leave a person feeling worse about the appearance of their hairline than before the surgery was performed. Plus, they will likely have to spend more money to have the revision procedure performed.