Before you choose a physician for hair loss treatment, or for any other purpose, here are the basic things you should want to know about:
You should ask the physician about his/her training and experience. You can determine the manner in which the physician practices by visiting the physician's office and clinic. You can find out if you feel comfortable with the physician by meeting the physician in an initial consultation. It is in your own best interest to learn as much as you can before making a final decision on choosing a physician.
While no amount of information can assure you of a satisfactory outcome of treatment, the best outcome is likely to result from a good patient/physician relationship founded upon (1) trust in the physician based on your knowledge of the physician's training, experience and competence, and (2) a compatible relationship with the physician.
The ISHRS Find a Doctor site provides you with a list of hair loss doctors and hair restoration doctors who have met requirements for ISHRS membership. The ISHRS does not imply or guarantee that a physician selected from this list will be compatible with you and will provide treatment that meets your expectations. You should do the research and ask the questions suggested below to find a physician with whom you feel comfortable and who is likely to meet your expectations.
Questions about the physician's training include:
- From what medical school did the physician receive his/her M.D. (allopathic medical) or D.O. (osteopathic medical) degree?
- What year did he/she receive the medical degree?
- When was the physician licensed to practice medicine? Is he/she licensed to practice medicine in your state or the state in which the treatment will take place?
- Where (hospital or medical center) did the physician complete his/her internship and residency training?
- Did the physician have additional training in a medical or surgical specialty after completing residency?
- Is the physician a certified medical or surgical specialist, who successfully passed examination by a medical or surgical specialty board? Specialist standing is not essential to a physician's competence but it is an indication of advanced training.
- Does the physician hold membership in their related specialty professional society? Do they attend scientific conferences and workshops? Membership and attendance in such societies is not essential, but it is an additional indication of commitment and advanced training.
If you are considering surgical hair restoration (hair transplantation, scalp reduction, flap grafting) you should want to know:
- How long has the physician been doing surgical hair restoration procedures?
- How many hair restoration procedures has the physician done? How many of the specific type you may consider having done?
- How many hair restoration procedures does the physician currently do per month? A busy practice can be one indication that a surgeon is skilled and well respected by patients.
- Is hair restoration surgery the physician's only practice, or does the physician perform other types of cosmetic surgery? This question may be important to ask for two reasons: (1) if hair restoration is only part of an overall treatment you think you may need-for example, hair restoration and treatment to remove facial wrinkles and sun-damaged skin-a dermatologic or plastic surgeon will be able to consult with you regarding the overall treatment, and (2) to determine whether the surgeon performs enough hair restoration surgery to maintain his/her skills.
- Will the physician, on request, provide names of patients who are willing to be references for the physician?
You should view several before and after photos to assure you like the aesthetic quality of the physician's work. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what can be accomplished for your unique situation.
You will want to know something about the environment in which the physician practices:
- Is the physician a solo practitioner or are there other physicians in the same practice?
- If there are other physicians, will you have the same physician from beginning to end of your treatment? If not, would this make you uncomfortable?
- Is the physician's office staff helpful, considerate and willing to answer questions about billing, insurance, etc?
- Is the office and clinic neat, and especially is it clean? A messy office may not be an indication of a physician's competence, but it does not make a good impression on prospective patients.
- Did you feel pressured to make a decision by anyone at the office or clinic before you were ready? This would be a cause for concern. You should take all the time you need before scheduling surgery.
A patient's trust in a physician is often as much a matter of "comfort level" as it is knowledge of training and experience:
- Does the physician consent-or even urge-you to have a spouse or friend present during your first consultation? The presence of a spouse or friend may make the first meeting with the physician more relaxed.
- You should have a lot of questions to ask at this first consultation. You may want to make a written list of questions to make sure there are none you forget to ask. Are you satisfied that the physician listened to all of your questions, answered them to your satisfaction, and discussed the answers?
- Do you feel that the physician spent enough time with you? Did the physician adequately explain the next steps that will be necessary in examination and diagnosis, touching on possible approaches to treatment after results of examination and diagnosis are known?
- Did the physician indicate a willingness to discuss all treatment options, and costs of various treatment options?
- At the end of the initial consultation, do you have a feeling that you and the physician have a compatible patient/physician relationship?