Many people consider losing their hair to be a traumatic event. In fact, according to The Washington Post, American hair loss sufferers spend more than $3.5 billion a year in an attempt to treat their hair loss. Fortunately, a hair transplant, the procedure of transplanting one's own follicles from the back of the head to the bald portion of the head is now possible and is a procedure that many people are able to take advantage of. However, it is of the utmost importance that patients choose a surgeon who specializes in the field and is qualified to perform the procedure.
Because new technology has become available to make hair transplantation easier to perform, more and more practices are leaning on the technology to do the surgeries instead of using a specifically trained and licensed health care professional. As a result, an increasing number of medical offices that do not specialize in hair transplantation are using unlicensed technicians to perform all or some aspects of hair restoration surgery, putting patients at risk for dangerous side effects and injury including scarring and infection.
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 has the legal right to declare themselves a qualified hair transplant surgeon. Because of this, it is extremely important to do the right research when selecting a surgeon as there are a handful of extremely skilled and qualified physicians.
The intent of the certification of doctors is to provide assurance to potential patients that the doctors certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties have successfully completed an approved training program and an evaluation process assessing their ability to provide quality patient care in the specialty. However, as it stands, hair transplant surgery does not have an approved medical specialty board sanctioned or certification process governed by The American Board of Medical Specialties.
While it is possible for a hair transplant surgeon to be certified by the American Hair Loss Association, the ABHRS is not part of the 24 approved medical specialty boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties. The American Hair Loss Association is the only national, privately held consumer organization, dedicated to educating the public, healthcare professionals, mainstream media and legislators about the emotionally devastating disease of hair loss. The AHLA has been created in part to act as an advocate for, and to protect all those with this disease from questionable hair loss practitioners and treatment marketers.
The American Hair Loss Association does endorse hair transplantation when performed by qualified, ethical physicians. The ABHRS offers the following advice when choosing a surgeon to perform your hair transplant:
- Avoid turning to the yellow pages when seeking out a hair transplant surgeon
- Avoid referrals from your dermatologist or family practitioner
- Avoid referrals from your hair stylist as they could receive compensation from hair transplant surgeons for referrals
- 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