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Unlicensed hair restoration practitioners pose risk to patient safety

Posted: 08/02/2018

The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) has issued a warning that increasing numbers of unlicensed practitioners are performing hair restoration surgery. Members of the ISHRS have reported large numbers of patients seeking help to correct the mistakes made by untrained practitioners. The society urges consumers to be aware that hair restoration surgery does involve making full thickness incisions into the skin which requires anaesthetic and should only be performed by a trained doctor.

The ISHRS is alarmed by this new trend. The types of mistakes reported include unnecessary and badly performed surgery and a failure to identify that a hair disorder may be related to an underlying disease which, if not properly diagnosed, can lead to major problems. The advice from the ISHRS is that if you are considering hair restoration surgery, it is important to find a qualified surgeon who has had proper training and experience.

Television actor Sajid Hassan recently posted a video on social media to highlight his experience of not doing sufficient research into the qualifications of his surgeon. He sustained a large scalp wound inflicted by the surgeon during his hair transplant procedure. In his video, Mr Hassan urges others to “go to the right surgeon and do a lot of research”. Pointing to the wound he said: “This is what happens when you go to the wrong guy.”

Elise Bevan, an associate in the cosmetic surgery team at Penningtons Manches, said: “Hair transplant surgery involves transferring scalp hair and hair follicles from an area with plenty of hair to an area with thinning hair or baldness. The follicles and hair are removed from one part of the head with either a punch graft or a scalpel. The hair strands are then transplanted into tiny holes or slits in bald areas of the scalp. In most cases, several procedures are required to achieve the desired coverage.

“The procedure is not usually available on the NHS as it is regarded as cosmetic surgery. It is generally a safe procedure, but as with any type of operation there are some risks, which include excessive bleeding, infection, significant scarring, nerve damage or an allergic reaction to the anaesthetic or sedation. To minimise the chance of a complication occurring, it is important that you choose the right surgeon. In the UK the practitioner carrying out the procedure should be a trained doctor who, as a minimum, is registered with the General Medical Council (GMC). Before going ahead with surgery, we recommend that you check the register to see the doctor’s fitness to practise history. You may also want to find out how many transplants he or she has performed, what sort of care would be provided after the operation, and where the surgeon is based.

“The Care Quality Commission (CQC) website lists treatment centres that can perform hair transplants and all independent clinics and hospitals that provide cosmetic surgery in England must be registered with the CQC. If you have undergone what you believe to be an unsuccessful hair transplant, caused by the perceived negligence of a cosmetic surgeon, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.”

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