With everything moving towards faster, easier, more impersonal ways to do things, we’ve become a drive-through society. Consumers’ expectations are lower. Even when it comes to hair transplants for male pattern baldness, the average hair transplant consumer has no idea what level of service, due diligence and after-care he should rightly demand. We have had men get in touch with Ape who are heading into the unknown when it comes to clinics, worldwide-locations and surgeons. In light of this, we asked our resident hair loss expert Spencer Stevenson to shed some light on the situation. Do your research gentleman!
The waiting bay
Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if everything in the world could be delivered via a drive-through service? Frankly, it seems as though physicians are seeing hair transplants that way. Just think of it; when you want a burger and fries, you drive up to a speaker box, tell the operator what you want, they instruct you to drive forward and you wait at the window to be handed your food. It’s all very impersonal. Sure, you get what you want, but it’s not like the teenager at the window checks that you’re watching your diet, asks if you’d prefer your fries hot and fresh or past their prime and soggy, or follows up with you later to instruct you on how to handle your heartburn.
It’s not such a stretch to see hair transplants in a similar vein. Just like at the fast food drive-through, there’s someone in charge alright, but they’re not going to pay you much attention. They delegate the dirty work to a technician (aka the bored teenager at the fast food joint, saving up for a skateboard) who will do a decent enough job but who’s really ‘minding the store’, as it were? Technicians are performing hair transplant procedures that should be done by doctors.
Self-service hair transplants
Today, with the proliferation of clinics installing automated machines that perform robotic FUEs (Follicular Unit Extractions), it’s all too easy for the physician to prescribe a treatment then wave the patient off to be attended to by what amounts to a machine operator, a line worker, a person who flicks the switch on and stands by while your new hair is plugged into your scalp. After the fact, where is the physician? (Forgive me for suggesting he’s out on the golf course but he may as well be, since he’s probably not going to become too heavily involved in your results.)
So why is this happening? From my viewpoint as a hair transplant patient and mentor are two reasons behind this medical apathy.
Firstly, the doctor may not have a clue as to how to perform a hair transplant. He may have been sold the machine by a super salesman with a slick pitch and a sumptuous lunch. You can be assured, it happens often. He was probably sold on the ‘passive income opportunity’, a mere sideways step from a multi-level marketing spiel, only instead of peddling laundry detergents and vitamins, he’ll be selling hopes and dreams to however many hapless balding men cross his practice’s threshold. He would have been told that all he has to do is call the machine’s manufacturer and like magic, an operator would be supplied who would expertly perform the procedure.
Sadly, these doctors don’t understand- and don’t bother finding out- what a good hair transplant is, and as such, they have no idea whether or not their techs are doing a good job. The work is quick and it’s sloppy. Frequently, techs aren’t especially careful with the grafts and don’t make sure they’re protected. The grafts need to be moist, chilled and handled gently. Ultimately, it all adds up to a poor result. There’s no attention to detail, no care for the patient who is pretty much expected to “man up” and sit through an uncomfortable procedure. In a clinic such as this, the tech staff will usually take the path of least resistance and as long as nothing negative filters back to the doctor employing them, and the money’s still flowing in, well who’s to know if all’s not well?
Secondly and just as common is the doctor’s disinterest in such ‘cosmetic’ procedures. He doesn’t particularly want to be bothered with making over a man’s head of hair when he feels he has far more important things to do in order to save the world from illness and death. As concerns balding, the significant diminishment of mental and emotional wellbeing may be completely lost on the doctor. When the physician himself has been sold a quick-fix solution to his patients’ woes, why on earth would he take the time to counsel a man who, for all intents and purposes, only has an ‘image problem’?
“Frankly, if he’s unwilling to conduct a pre-op consultation and discuss with the patient what can- and really should- be done, then he is most likely not too interested in the outcome. The focus is the money.” Says world leading Hair Transplant surgeon Dr. Scott Alexander.
“I have never been able to understand why a patient would willingly undergo a procedure without talking to his doctor about it and knowing his doctor would be there to perform the procedure.” Dr Scott Alexander adds who is the only Dr performing consultations and surgery at his leading clinic in Phoenix Arizona.
Unfortunately, the days of being able to implicitly trust these clinics are over, but the problem is actually two-fold. On the one hand, you have physicians who are time-poor and money-hungry, who are happy to defer their paying patients to a subordinate who will deliver the plug-and-slug approach to hair transplants. On the other hand, you have distressed men who are also time-poor and who desperately desire a quick solution to a long-term problem. Wouldn’t it be nice if every problem could be solved instantly by popping a little blue pill?
The moral of the story is that if you are going to invest good money in a procedure that is meant to enhance not just your appearance but your confidence, self-esteem and emotional wellbeing, you simply must find a clinic that gives a damn. Don’t rest until you’ve found one where the doctor himself (or herself) will perform the hair transplant procedure, and provides a treatment care plan that begins with understanding your needs and ends with conscientious follow-up.
For more information on hair loss and hair transplants visit spexhair.com – home of Ape’s hair loss expert; Spencer Stevenson.