In today's day and age, looking good comes at a cost. The direct exposure to pollution, changing climate, bad water conditions and harmful rays of the sun can make your skin dull and damage your hair. If the damage from these factors becomes severe, it can lead to excessive hair loss – at which point some people will consider undergoing hair transplantation.
Hair transplantation is a surgical technique that involves planting hair follicles in a bald or balding part of the scalp. While the surgery is not complex, considerable aftercare is needed to ensure that the follicles settle in and grow stronger just like hair in the other areas of the scalp.
However, an inexperienced surgeon or poor aftercare can result in complications. For example, a patient may suffer from scarring or infection or the transplanted hair may not take root and grow. Given that hair transplantation is an elective procedure which a patient choses to undergo for his or her personal reasons – but probably to improve their appearance - an unsatisfactory or negligent result can be devastating.
When discussing a patient’s suitability for hair transplantation, a surgeon will be taking into account a range of factors that could affect the desired outcome and the satisfaction levels of the patient. The assessment should start with a detailed consultation that includes the relevant medical history, the patient’s own and family hair loss history, and an evaluation of the patient’s understanding of their hair loss and treatment options available – one of which could be to do nothing.
Since the Montgomery judgment, the test for consent is much more patient orientated. What one patient may find material in understanding the pros and cons of hair transplantation in order to make an informed choice may not be relevant or as relevant to another patient. There is no longer any role for doctor paternalism in this respect. Good, clear communication between surgeon and patient is absolutely vital.
A psychological evaluation of the effect of the hair loss on the patient as well as an assessment of the patient’s expectations of the outcome are both critical. It is important to understand that results are physically dependent on the balance between the supply of donor hair and the scope of the demand for hair restoration, not just at the time of the surgery but also in the future when hair loss will inevitably have progressed further.
Hair transplants are very popular and often have desirable results. The stigma attached to the procedure has largely disappeared over recent years, particularly for men. But hopeful men with disappearing hairlines do not realise that not everyone can undergo the procedure. Like so many miracle cures that sound too good to be true, the conditions a patient must meet to be eligible for a hair transplant are extremely specific. Successful applicants are thinner on the ground than the hair on their heads.