The tips below are taken from a variety of sources and based on an article on Dr. Carlos Puig’s hair transplant site.
So you’ve decided to or are seriously considering having a hair transplant? Like buying a car, hair transplant costs are an expensive process and you will be living with the results for a long time after. Do you want your hair transplant to be a Yugo or a Ferrari? Don’t get buyer’s remorse from jumping into a hair restoration surgery with the first surgeon you talk to. Just like purchasing a car, there are a variety of options
Hair Transplant Surgeon Qualifications
Ask about and see the surgeon’s credentials. Look for information from
- AACS: American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery
- ISHRS: International Society for Hair Restoration Surgeons
- AHLC: American Hair Loss Council
- ABHRS: American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery
or other reputable organizations.
The American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery is the only board organization that certifies doctors specifically for hair transplants. If a doctor has a certification from them, it guarantees that he has done a certain amount of hair transplant surgeries and passed both an oral and written exam.
Hair Transplant Cost
Fees should never be quoted on the phone…every person’s needs and expectations are different. You will find hair transplant cost varies from clinic to clinic. You should avoid the lowest cost being the deciding factor for your decision. There are excellent hair transplant surgeons who charge low fees, but there are also hair transplant doctors offering low fees to make up for their lack of experience or poor reputation.
Fees should include all follow-up visits.
When considering the cost of the hair transplant, also consider how many hair transplant sessions will be required to achieve the desired effect. Some doctors do large “mega-sessions” that may require only one hair transplant surgery. Others may do 2-3 smaller transplants to achieve the same effect. The cost for each type of hair restoration surgery can vary by the doctor, but make sure you consider the number of operations when evaluating cost.
Take your time, have all your questions answered, and make sure you feel comfortable with the approach, results you’ll get, and the people who will be working with you.
Make sure you see numerous “before and after photos” of all types of hair and styles. A hair transplant surgeon who has been performing hair transplant surgery for a while should have a collection of before and after photos, as well as some patients who you can contact. Try to find photos that are similar to your type and degree of hair loss. Other patients can give you good insight into the kind of care you will receive during and after the operation.
The priorities of a physician’s staff reflect those of the physician. If the office staff is patient-motivated, the physician is most likely patient-motivated. In other words, their service is primarily designed to meet your needs, not those of the doctor.
Complication rates: although the complications in this surgical procedure are few and rarely serious, an honest, conscientious medical group will track their complications and explain all the risks. A medical group that just “pushes it aside” is not educating you properly.
Questions to ask the surgeon:
- How long have you been performing hair transplant surgery?
Most experienced hair transplant surgeons will have been performing them for several years. Many have been performing them for 10-20 years or more.
- Do you practice hair transplants exclusively? If not, what percentage of your surgeries involves hair transplants?
Most hair transplant surgeons perform them exclusively. If a doctor doesn’t, it doesn’t mean he is not a good hair transplant surgeon, but you should make sure he has enough experience to do a good job and is committed to excellent results and not just performing them on the side for extra money.
- How many hair transplant procedures have you performed?
Most dedicated physicians perform 1-3 hair transplant surgeries per day and an experienced physician should have performed hundreds. Less than 100 does not mean the hair transplant surgeon is not a good surgeon, since all doctors start out new at some point and usually have studied with another physician prior to that, but it is an issue to be considered.
- Do you use several smaller surgeries to achieve the goal or mega-sessions?
There is nothing wrong with either approach when done well by the surgeon, but it is good to know in terms of cost and how many surgeries will be required.
- How many hair transplant procedures do you perform in one day?
Most doctors perform 1-3 hair transplants per day depending on their techniques used and the amount of hairs transplanted. Doctors performing “mega-sessions” usually should only be transplanting one patient per day to focus on the quality of the hair transplant for that patient, although some newer techniques and automated processes are allowing surgeons to transplant higher volumes of hair in shorter times.
- Does the doctor perform follicular unit hair transplants?
Follicular unit transplants are widely considered the state of the art method of hair transplants. Hair follicles grow in bunches of 1-4 hairs called follicular units. A follicular unit transplant moves these bunches in whole to their new location without subdividing them, and is believed to offer the most natural appearance. While it is possible to achieve good results without using follicular units (some doctors subdivide them into 1-2 hair groups), the field as a whole currently considers follicular units superior.
- Does the doctor take donor hairs from a linear strip or use follicular unit extraction (FUE)?
There are two most common approaches to removing donor hair follicles for hair transplants. In one, a long strip of skin is removed from the back of the scalp and then cut up into groups of hair follicles. This method is the quickest and generally simplest from the surgeon’s point of view, however it leaves a long scar at the back of the scalp and has a longer recover time and more risk of pain and complications. The newer technique, follicular unit extraction (FUE), removes the follicular units individually. Healing is mostly done within a few days with minimal scarring and little or no pain. The downside is that not all patients are good candidates for it, it takes longer to perform and is therefore more expensive usually. There can also be a higher rate of follicles which are transected (accidentally cut in half and made unusable). We recommend FUE when possible – scars from the linear strip removal have been one of the main complaints about hair transplant surgery.
Be a smart buyer, shop around and make a careful decision.