As someone who’s had more than a dozen hair transplants over the last couple of decades, I’m here to tell you that there really is the good, the bad and the ugly to contend with. We’d be living in a wonderful world if you could totally trust every practitioner you ever met, but sadly that’s not the case. Particularly in the hair transplant industry, which is one of the most treacherous places on earth.
However, a dodgy operator isn’t the only reason why you might regret a hair transplant. I’m not trying to talk you out of it – after all, I’m finally happy with my results – but forewarned is forearmed, as they say…
Regret Reason No. 1: Not doing due diligence
As previously mentioned, the hair loss industry is rife with charlatans. I’ve met some of them and even gone under their knives, unfortunately. As the consumer, it’s up to you to be vigilant and imperative that you conduct thorough due diligence.
“Don’t get persuaded or strong-armed into the first great deal you see or get offered. It’s extremely important to take your time with the hair transplant research process,” says Nadeem Khan, director at The Harley Street Hair Clinic.
If it seems too good to be true it probably is – and your head (and emotional wellbeing) will pay the price of that false economy.
What you don’t want is an unqualified and/or inexperienced person operating on you. Of course, inexperienced surgeons have to start somewhere but if they’re practising on their own, with no supervision by, or alliance with, a more experienced professional, steer clear. You certainly don’t want a mere technician performing this kind of procedure on you.
If something doesn’t seem or feel right in your initial consultation, either get to the bottom of it with some hard questions or go with your gut and move right along. Don’t let an unethical salesman sway your good judgement and prey on your vulnerability and desperation – they can smell it a mile away.
Fortunately, there are reputable, trustworthy resources you can rely on for credible, ethical information as well as a number of free services to help:
- The Bald Truth UK – The UK’s first on-air support group for men and women seeking solutions for their hair loss problems.
- IAHRS – The International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons is committed to hair transplant patient education and safety and only admits practitioners of the highest integrity.
- AHLA – The American Hair Loss Association’s goal is to create public awareness of hair loss as a complex medical condition and to provide resources and support to consumers who are actively researching effective treatments.
- Global Hair Loss Summit – An assembly of some of the best and brightest minds in hair loss exchanging the latest information around surgical hair restoration.
Regret Reason No. 2: Not being prepared to travel
I would never encourage anyone to sign up for one of those gimmicky, low-budget/high-luxury hair transplant ‘holidays’. That said, you may have to travel to find the best hair transplant surgeon for you, even if it means leaving your town or city.
Again, do your research and don’t settle for the cheapest or most convenient. Do yourself a favour and get the best treatment you can afford and if you can’t afford what’s best for you, postpone until you’ve saved up or enquire about payment plans that fit with your circumstances.
“We find the best patients are the most informed and educated prior to opting for surgery. We see countless out of town and state patients who chose to travel based on research,” says Dr. Alan Bauman at Bauman Medical.
Once you start researching hair transplant practices and meet two or three different surgeons, you’ll get a feel for the one that’s right for you. It’s important to consult with several to get a range of opinions and it’s always smart to ask to see before and after photos of their actual patients.
When all’s said and done, don’t let geography be the reason why you find yourself regretting your hair transplant surgery.
Regret Reason No. 3: Not maintaining reasonable expectations
I’ve spoken with countless people who’ve had hair transplant surgery and lived to regret it because they thought the result would be far different to what it was. You must keep in mind that there are thousands of variables, and no two cases are the same.
A hair transplant will not give you back a full head of hair for the rest of your life. For starters, the thicker and denser your existing hair, the better the transplant result will be, but if you have thin, sparse hair to begin with, you’ll have to match your expectations to reality.
An experienced, reputable surgeon will be frank with you and give you a good idea as to what you can expect. Take some time to digest what you’ve been told and don’t rush into a decision.
“Make sure you meet patients in person who’ve had a hair transplant procedure with your chosen clinic in order to get a good feel for the results and what to expect,” advises Dr. Amir Yazdan, a leading IAHRS surgeon at Modena Hair Institute.
Regret Reason No. 4: Being in too much of a hurry
Achieving a good result from a hair transplant requires effort, patience and hard work on your part. A lot of young men in their early twenties rush in and take the hair transplant route, only to find that they were sold on a ‘quick fix’ when what’s really involved is an ongoing commitment to treating their hair loss issues.
If you have hair loss, hair transplant surgery is not a once-off proposition. Transplants remediate the area where hair loss is evident, but they don’t protect you from further hair loss. To be honest, treatment for hair loss should start way before a surgeon extracts the first follicles from your scalp.
Stabilising hair loss is a really important run-up to a surgical procedure and can involve taking medications and using product such as Minoxidil, Finasteride and hair loss shampoos for many months in advance and ongoing. Your practitioner might recommend red light laser therapy or PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) treatments too.
Any decent hair loss surgeon worth his PhD will tell you to follow a preventative program before, during and following hair transplant surgery. It’s an ongoing commitment that you shouldn’t take lightly. Which leads us onto…
Regret Reason No. 5: Not accepting that it’s an ongoing commitment
Prime yourself in advance with the knowledge that you will not just have one hair transplant in your lifetime. Well, you may, but that’ll be a choice only you can make. For satisfactory results over the decades, you will have to have repeat procedures to address areas of further hair loss.
“Many patients are hopeful that the procedure is a one-time fix, but it’s imperative patients truly understand the need for possible further procedures in years to come before they commit,” says Dr. Ken Anderson from Anderson Center for Hair.
It’s important to understand both the financial and emotional impact of this long-term commitment prior to undertaking your first procedure.
One more thing to consider
Investing in hair loss treatments, including surgery, is an investment in your emotional wellbeing. For most of us, male pattern baldness impacts us way past skin deep so rather than being purely a cosmetic treatment, it’s also a whole-of-self treatment. A bad hair transplant can damage your self-esteem way more than your hair loss ever would. Take the time to understand your particular condition through consulting several experts and follow their recommendations.