GENEVA, ILLINOIS USA (January 11, 2017) — The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) today 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. All consumers considering hair restoration surgery should seek out a qualified surgeon who has proper training, experience and certifications, according to the ISHRS, a non-profit medical association and leading authority on hair loss treatment and restoration. Furthermore, the ISHRS warns patients to make sure the doctor they schedule with will actually be performing the surgery, and not delegating it to an unlicensed person.
“Increasing numbers of patients are seeking help from physician members of the ISHRS, asking them to correct mistakes of individuals who are not properly licensed or trained to perform surgical hair transplantation,” said the Society’s President Ken Washenik, MD, PhD, FAAD, FISHRS. “The ISHRS is very concerned for patients who, in some cases, have irreparable damage to their hair and scalp. We are deeply troubled when we learn about complications, some severe, because unlicensed individuals in the US and abroad are performing surgery.”
When performed properly by trained physicians, today’s hair restoration surgery safely and effectively creates natural-looking, permanent results that are virtually undetectable, Washenik said. “The ISHRS is speaking out on this issue because our mission focuses on advancing quality for patients through ongoing education of both medical professionals and consumers,” he added.
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. For example, diagnostic decisions are being made, full thickness incisions into the skin are occurring, appropriate dosing of anesthetic medication is critical to patient safety, and patients must be medically monitored. These are just a few of the reasons that all surgery must be considered the practice of medicine.
- With respect to follicular unit hair transplantation, hundreds to thousands of tiny incisions are made. This includes both hair transplant procedures using strip-FUT (follicular unit transplantation) and FUE (follicular unit extraction) methods of donor harvesting.
- Properly trained and licensed physicians -- and where allowed by law in the United States, physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) who practice within the scope of their licenses -- should be the only professionals performing hair restoration surgery. This includes preoperative diagnostic evaluation; surgery planning; surgery execution (including donor hair harvesting, hairline design, and recipient site creation); and management of medical issues and possible adverse reactions.
- When unlicensed personnel perform highly skilled aspects of hair restoration surgery, in addition to surgical complications, patients risk misdiagnosis or performance of unnecessary or ill-advised surgery. For example, in some cases, hair loss can be caused by disorders related to underlying systemic diseases which, if not properly diagnosed and treated, can lead to major medical problems.
According to Dr. Washenik, laws vary by country and by state regarding the specific portions of procedures that can be delegated to unlicensed personnel, but the ISHRS believes that a licensed provider knowledgeable 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, we believe patients are being misled and placed at risk, “he stated.
As a leading authority on hair loss treatment and restoration with more than 1,200 members in 70 countries, the ISHRS provides educational materials for patients considering hair restoration. Questions that consumers should ask physicians can be found at http://www.ishrs.org/article/questions-ask-your-hair-doctor. “Find a Physician” services are also available by visiting www.ishrs.org or calling the ISHRS consumer inquiry line at 1-800-444-2737 (U.S. Toll-Free) or +1-630-262-5399.
About the ISHRS
The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) is a global non-profit medical association and the leading authority on hair loss treatment and restoration with more than 1,200 members throughout 70 countries worldwide. Above all, the ISHRS is dedicated to achieving excellence in patient outcomes by promoting the highest standards of medical practice, medical ethics, and research in the medical hair restoration industry. The ISHRS also provides continuing medical education to physicians specializing in hair transplant surgery and is committed to delivering the latest information on medical and surgical treatments to consumers suffering from hair loss, and most commonly from androgenetic alopecia – male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss. It was founded in 1993 as the first international society to promote continuing quality improvement and education for professionals in the field of hair restoration surgery. For more information and to locate a physician, visit www.ishrs.org.