Consumers face potential of serious risk when unlicensed personnel perform hair restoration surgery
The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) issued a consumer alert with a warning that increasing numbers of unlicensed personnel worldwide are performing substantial medical aspects of hair restoration surgery and, in doing so, are putting patients at risk.
Increasing numbers of patients are now seeking help from physician members of ISHRS, asking them to correct the mistakes of procedures done by those not properly trained to perform hair transplants. The ISHRS warns that patient safety and treatment outcomes are being jeopardized, and encourages consumers to be aware of the following:
Even minimally invasive hair restoration procedures are, in fact, surgery requiring medical expertise. Important clinical decisions requiring expert clinical knowledge must be made during procedures. For example, diagnostic decisions are being made and full thickness incisions into the skin are occurring. With respect to follicular unit hair transplantation, hundreds to thousands of tiny incisions are made. This includes hair transplant procedures using strip-FUT (follicular unit transplantation) and FUE (follicular unit extraction) methods of donor harvesting. Appropriate dosing of anesthetic medication is critical to patient safety and patients must be medically monitored.
Properly trained and licensed physicians (and where allowed by law in the United States, physician assistants and nurse practitioners who practice within the scope of their licenses), should be the only professionals performing certain aspects of hair restoration surgery. This includes:
- Preoperative diagnostic evaluation and consultation
- Surgery planning and surgery execution (including donor hair harvesting, hairline design, and recipient site creation)
- Management of medical issues and possible adverse reactions
Laws vary by country and by state regarding the specific portions of procedures that can be delegated to unlicensed personnel. ISHRS believes that a licensed provider knowledgable in the field of hair restoration must perform all surgical incisions or excisions which are part of the procedure. When doctors advertise their credentials and then delegate the surgery to unlicensed personnel, patients are being misled and placed at risk.
When unlicensed personnel perform highly skilled aspects of hair restoration surgery, patients risk misdiagnosis or performance of unnecessary or ill-advised surgery, as well as failure to have the personnel identify that a hair disorders may be related to underlying systemic diseases which, if not properly diagnosed, can lead to major medical problems.