The bald facts: How to safely navigate the online maze of hair transplant treatments

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Comparethetreatment expert Greg Williams is a plastic surgeon specialising in hair restoration and is President of the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery. Here, he offers a safe guide to cosmetic hair surgery

I want a hair transplant – where should I look first?

It is very important you do your homework before having a hair transplant.

The internet is bursting with enticing commercially based websites that do not list the doctor who would perform the procedure. Many of these websites also make unrealistic or untrue claims and offer financial inducements that do not comply with GMC and the Royal College of Surgeons guidance.

The British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery (BAHRS) offers advice on choosing a hair transplant clinic or surgeon.

George Sampson had a hair transplant at the age of 23 – how young is too young for hair transplant surgery?

There is not a lower age limit for having a hair transplant for male pattern hair loss (MPHL). However, in deciding to operate on men in their early 20s, it is vital that their potential for future hair loss is considered. This involves:

  • Determination of age of hair loss
  • Rapidity of progression
  • Family history
  • Visible pattern of evolving hair loss
  • And other factors such as whether they are using medication or other therapies to try to stabilise their hair loss.

Are there any risks associated with the procedure?

There are physical risks associated with having a hair transplant such as bleeding, infection and scarring. There are also the emotional and psychological risks that can be associated with poor aesthetic outcomes.

Is there a quick fix?

For some men, taking oral finasteride can stop hair loss and even regrow lost hair – but this too comes with the risk of potential side effects.

Can any surgeon carry out hair transplant surgery?

In the UK, there is little regulation to do with who can legally perform a hair transplant procedure. Currently, the only requirement for any doctor to perform hair transplant surgery is a valid GMC licence. It is a legal requirement for the surgery to be done in a Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered facility.

Is it OK to ask to see photos of his/her own work?

Any hair transplant surgeon should be happy to show photographs of their results.

What will my surgeon need from me?

  • You will be expected to provide contact and demographic details in addition to a full medical history
  • You are likely to be asked about your personal hair loss history and that of immediate family members
  • You will be asked to provide details of any previous treatments
  • You might be asked about the psychological impact your hair loss is having on you

Hair transplants
Can I have it styled?


Can I choose the style I want?

Once the transplanted hairs grow, they can be styled as natural hair.

The location where the hairs are transplanted is decided during the consultation

Will surgery stop hair falling out?

Surgery will definitely NOT stop hair falling out. However, there are medications, such as topical minoxidil and oral finasteride that can be used and are proven to slow down or halt hair loss. There are other therapies, such as low-level light therapy and platelet rich plasma injections that have a growing body of anecdotal reports suggesting benefit.

What are my options re: types of surgery?

The two methods of harvesting donor hair are the strip follicular unit transplant (Strip FUT) and the follicular unit extraction (FUE) techniques.

In the former, a strip of scalp is excised from the back and sides of the head and then dissected into the individual groupings of hair (follicular units). In the latter, the follicular units are extracted individually.

Are there any medical reasons that will prevent me from having surgery?

There are a number of dermatological scalp conditions that cause hair loss that are not suitable for hair transplantation.

Patients with bleeding tendencies and those taking medications to thin the blood would also have to think carefully about having a cosmetic surgical procedure.

Is it guaranteed forever?

No form of surgery can be guaranteed but, in most cases, the transplanted hair should remain as long as they would have in their donor location

It can be costly here in the UK – should I consider going abroad?

Whilst good quality hair transplants are available overseas, many foreign countries have lower standards of infection control than in the UK.

Here is the BAHRS guidance – http://bahrs.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/BAHRS-Advice-to-patients-considering-having-hair-transplant-surgery-abro....pdf

I am a woman with thinning hair – can hair transplant surgery help me?

Hair loss in women can have a number of causes and needs more extensive investigation than in men. That said, genetic female pattern hair loss is often suitable for hair transplant surgery.

What is the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery (BAHRS)?

The BAHRS is a non-profit association of clinicians, hair transplant surgical assistants, scientists and para-clinical practitioners with an interest in hair loss, hair restoration, including hair transplant surgery, hair research and education.

Why should my surgeon be a member?

BAHRS members sign a code of conduct agreeing to abide by professional standards that are in keeping with guidance from the General Medical Council, Royal College of Surgeons, and the Advertising Standards Authority.

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