The greatest myth in hair transplant surgery is that anybody and everybody can perform it in any setting without any risk.
Interestingly enough hair transplantation surgery is one of the safest cosmetic surgeries that there is and to date and to the best of my knowledge there has been no hair transplant surgery that has directly contributed to the death and yet sadly enough there has been 3 mortalities in India, that we know off, the most recent one being in Mumbai.
When we started doing hair transplant surgery and teaching it (2003) patients had a great deal of respect for the procedure and eth entire procedure was done by the doctors. Next besides many non-traditional doctors started entering the field along with the induction of technicians to assist. The next big change was the harvest technique from an FUT( strip technique) to an FUE (follicle extraction). This is when it first started getting ugly and technicians started taking larger and larger roles and business community ( with no experience) started hiring doctors and technicians to perform the procedures, in some cases the procedure entirely carried out by technicians along with ghost surgery.
Just as important is the surgical facilities- sterilization at its best, clean environment, the latest in monitoring devices, a crash cart with emergency drugs and qualified personnel. While hair transplant surgery for the most part is a safe procedure thing can go wrong- excessive bleeding, allergic reactions, irregular heartbeats and even heart attacks. Doctors must be trained in ACLS which is an advanced form of CPR. Drills must be conducted on a regular basis to test the competency of the staff / team / sop’s in place for transfer of a patient to a medical facility in the fastest way possible if required.
All of this comes at a price and this is where the price conscious patients looking for a bargain get something they did not bargain for- a disaster. At this present time the hair transplant field is a rat race with each one trying to beat the other either in price or number of grafts performed.
Patients embarking for a hair transplant procedure should follow the check list-
- The doctor in question- is he well trained and qualified- attached to a major hospital (adds to their credibility). You should be examined to see whether you are good candidate for surgery or medical treatment. A battery of preoperative testing and clearance from an MD physician if there are any underlying medical problems.
- You must visit the surgical facility a few times so that all your queries are answered and you get to inspect the conditions under which you will be treated and their level of preparedness for an emergency. A surgical facility is not a room with a bed or chair, some lights, stools for people to sit on and people walking around looking competent complete with OR clothes, caps and loupes (magnifying glasses).
- What is also less known is that if 1000 grafts are done then there will be 1000 points of entry into the scalp in the donor area and another 1000 where the grafts are placed. In case the instruments are unsterile and / or poor facility, the risk of infection that the patient is subjected to is many folds.
- The 3 parts of a surgical procedure- pre operative evaluation, intraoperative monitoring (with the latest equipment- almost fail safe) and post-operative surveillance and discharge with instructions and an emergency number is paramount for a safe and successful surgical outcome.
- Would you like to have hair transplant done for 1 rupee for a hair? How ludicrous is that? Can only be done with taking short cuts and compromised care.
Hair transplantation remains one of the safest procedures when performed by experienced and qualified doctors in a very well-equipped surgical facility as it is a minefield out there with lots of ghost surgeons.
BY:Dr. Mohan Thomas Senior Cosmetic Surgeon, Cosmetic Surgery Institute