Before undergoing any medical or surgical procedure, it is always advisable to research your options and seek a few professional opinions. In this section, we will examine the consultation phase of the hair restoration process. We also offer valuable guidelines; which we hope you will use to take control of your hair restoration from the very beginning.
Preparing for the consultation
Two of our primary objectives for this website are to educate you about new medical and surgical hair restoration options and to empower you as a patient. It has been our experience, that the most satisfied hair restoration patients are those who invest the necessary time and effort to prepare before the first consultation.
Start by doing some preliminary research on the internet reviewing some of the more reputable websites on hair loss. The websites we recommend are www.ishrs.org and www.abhrs.org.
Once you have done this preliminary research, you may also use these resources to obtain the names of a few respected hair restoration surgeons in your area. Of course, an excellent means of finding a hair restoration surgeon is by personal referral. It helps to know a satisfied patient or to ask your general practitioner or hair stylist for the name of a well-respected specialist. This also helps to reduce your chances of encountering a second-rate hair restoration practitioner who may provide sub-standard care and results.
Consultations may vary
Over the years, there have been compelling infomercials on television about hair restoration. In the majority of these cases, high-pressured sales tactics were commonly employed by those advertisers in order to persuade prospective clients to come in for a “consultation,” where they met with a non-medical (sales) representative who tried to sell a surgical procedure or hair system. This is classified as a “sales consultation”, not a medical consultation.
Be cautious of anyone who tries to entice you with a special discount or offer when you sign a contract and/or make a deposit. This is not how reputable hair restoration surgeons practice. If you encounter this type of situation when you go in for a medical consultation, leave and seek the services of another doctor, even if you have to travel some distance.
Establishing the doctor-patient relationship
The consultation is an opportunity for much more than a smile and a handshake. It enables doctor and patient to get acquainted on several levels. The initial meeting allows the doctor to assess where a prospective patient is in terms of physical hair loss, their areas of greatest concern, what treatments may have already been tried, how the hair loss impacts the individual on an emotional level, and more.
While talking with the hair restoration patient, the doctor is also studying such characteristics as personality, facial features and aspects of the existing hairline—what features need to be accentuated and what should be diminished. At this stage, the doctor is already planning how he or she will place different groupings of hairs in different patterns to best fit that individual. Taking time for these details enhances the doctor’s ability to formulate a superior treatment plan and hairline design for the future patient.
From a patient’s perspective, the consultation is your time to learn as much as you can about the doctor, the practice and your hair restoration.
Now is the time to determine objectives and discuss expectations.
The consultation serves both patient and doctor as you work together to determine your hair restoration objectives, review various medical and surgical solutions, and obtain a clear understanding of what you can realistically expect as a final result.
During your initial visit, you need to know the doctor’s professional assessment of your condition, including an accurate determination of where you are according to the Norwood or Ludwig scales of male/female pattern baldness; what you can realistically gain in terms of density; the doctor’s detailed treatment plan; and fee for services.
This discussion must also set appropriate expectations in terms of the actual numbers of sessions and grafts required to achieve your hair restoration objectives. You may discover that you need more sessions than you had anticipated. For example, the fact that you have dark, straight hair and light skin may re-quire more work. Or your donor area may be insufficient and this will limit the doctor’s ability to achieve the desired density.
Here is a partial list of questions to ask your doctor:
- Please tell me about your medical training and background.
- Are you Board Certified or a Diplomate of the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery?
- How did you get interested in the field of hair restoration?
- How long have you been performing surgical hair restoration surgery?
- How many surgical procedures do you perform in a day? Regarding a minimum or maximum number of procedures, many factors determine how many surgeries a doctor can perform in the course of a day. A number between one and two is reasonable.
- Do you offer a Multi-Therapy approach to your patients?
- Do you use Follicular Unit Grafting?
- How much of your practice is dedicated to medical and surgical hair restoration?
- What will your role be in my surgery? Will you actually harvest the donor strip and make all of the recipient incisions?
- What training and experience does each member of your medical and surgical team possess?
- How often do you and your staff go for continuing education related to medical and surgical hair restoration?
- Are you an active member of any professional hair restoration organizations? Which ones?
- Are you asked to give lectures to your colleagues at national or international hair transplant seminars?
- Please give me the names and contact information of patients I can call as references.
- May I see your patient’s before and after photos?
Guidelines for evaluating before and after photographs:
- For each photo shown, ask the name of the surgeon who performed the surgical procedure on the patient. Some surgeons may use other doctor’s patient photos.
- Can you see the patient’s hairline in each photo? The most detectable part of a hair transplant is the first inch. You need to see the hairline in order to determine if the doctor used follicular unit grafts.
- Study the hairlines for signs of camouflaging.
- Do the hairlines curve around near the temples?
- Are hairlines straight across or staggered?
- Do the hairlines appear natural and random?
- Does the patient’s hairline look acceptable and age appropriate?
- Clinical before and after photos should not be retouched.
- Not all hairlines should be created equal. You need to see that the doctor can produce a variety of hairlines that are appropriate to the age, hair characteristics and facial structure of each individual.
- Watch for the high and wide hairline.
- Is the hairline too thick and resembles a “wall”.
- Be sure you see photos taken from different angles. The photos provided should enable you to evaluate coverage, density and appearance from multiple angles.
- What was the surgical treatment plan?
- How many grafts did the patient receive?
- Had the patient had any previous hair restoration surgery?
- Was any adjunctive therapy used? (e.g. medical, laser/phototherapy, nutritional supplements)
- Was the patient on Propecia?
- Did the patient use Minoxidil?
- Did the patient try Low Level Laser Therapy?
- How many months after the procedure were the photos taken?
Many practitioners bring their unique medical background, philosophy and preferred approach to their hair restoration practice. The consultation and medical evaluation process varies between doctors.
Understanding Hair Transplants
Follicular Unit Hair Transplants
Follicular Unit Extraction
Typical Procedure in Eight Steps
Frontal Hair Transplants
Crown Hair Transplants
Facial Hair Transplants
Hair Transplants for Women
Eyebrow Hair Restoration
HT Questions & Answers
In-Depth Hair Transplant Info
- How to Prepare for your Consultation
- How to Prepare for your Procedure
- Dense Packing of Hair Grafts
- Megasession Hair Transplants
- No Scab Healing Protocol
- Faster Hair Growth After Surgery
- History of Hair Transplants
“Pressure free consultation. I feel I was given an honest consultation about my options. The office was very helpful and there was no pressure to undertake procedures. It truly was a learning experience and I feel more informed now to make my own decision on how to proceed. If I do decide to go ahead with a hair transplant I would feel very confident in working with Dr. Friedman.”
— M. D. S.