USA Today released a special report today about surgical mistakes, which made me think of my own field of hair restoration surgery. I’m a strong advocate for hair transplantion in men and women who need a higher level of restoration than what can be achieved through FDA approved medications and low level laser therapy. But patients need to be careful - remember, this is a real surgery and it can have consequences if not performed correctly by a qualified surgeon.
Here are the top three mistakes to watch out for:
- Unqualified Doctor - The most important thing of all is to make sure your doctor is a board-certified hair restoration surgeon by the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery (ABHRS). You can look up ABHRS diplomates here. But there are other signs to look for too: is he or she ‘recommended’ by the American Hair Loss Association? is she an active member of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery? how many hair transplants has he performed? will he show you the before-and-after photos of his patients?
- Outdated Surgical Techniques - Every hair transplant patient today should be receiving a NeoGraft follicular-unit extraction - period. The NeoGraft FUE offers the best results: it’s the most minimally invasive transplant, doesn’t require a scalpel or stitches, doesn’t leave a linear scar and allows for 100% natural-looking results. It also has a faster recovery time and a lower risk of post-op complications, infections, etc. A lot of doctors still rely on the old-school strip-harvest hair transplant, which takes a large donor strip from the back of your scalp. This procedure is outdated and should not be used. Make sure your doctor is offering a NeoGraft FUE.
- Bad Follicle Handling and Placement - How the harvested follicles (grafts) are handled by the surgical team and how they are artistically placed into the scalp by the surgeon still determines the naturalness, density and results from the procedure. If the follicles are ‘mishandled’ by an inexperienced team of technicians or without appropriate magnification and instrumentation, graft survival may be impacted - thereby squandering precious donor hair follicles. Also, if the surgeon does not have an aesthetic sense and understand the subtle nuances of hairline design, the naturalness of the results can ultimately suffer. In the worst cases, these unnatural hairlines may require repair.
A few years ago, I created a hair transplant patient checklist that still works great today. Check it out here.