WARNING: Graphic images below
Doctors have warned against the danger of black market hair transplant operations, after horrific photos show how procedures can go wrong.
The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) has been urging people travelling abroad to avoid “black market pirate clinics” which are often operated by non-physicians, who have little or no training.
The number of botched black market operations has prompted the ISHRS to launch an awareness campaign in an effort to help people identify fraudulent hair clinics, which often promise ‘guaranteed results’.
A total of 77.5 per cent of their members have treated at least six patients who have suffered a botched hair procedure in the past year, and have warned that number is climbing drastically.
“Many of the illegal clinics have sophisticated websites ranking high with Google paid ads to attract the consumer into a clinic that appears on the surface very professional,” Dr Ricardo Mejia of the ISHRS warned.
“The marketing tactics are deceptive as it appears like a team of professional doctors with excellent testimonials.
“However, the reality is your surgery may be done by someone with no medical training.
“The demand is so high, reports are that taxi cab drivers and Syrian refugees do the surgery in some overseas countries.”
Scarred and disfigured
Patients who book cheap procedures abroad are often left with serious complications after surgery, including scarring, bald patches, poor hair growth and unnatural hairlines that are disfiguring, according to Dr Mejia.
“Unfortunately there are many clinics abroad that do not have the best interest of the patient at hand and interested in only making a profit,” he explained.
“They do this by offering very inexpensive and cheap prices, with the glamour and marketing of being a top notch organisation.
“However, the surgery is not done by a medical professional trained in hair restoration surgery.
“If people do not do the research and investigate the doctors or verify their credentials at ISHRS.org, there is a much higher risk that they will be operated on by a non-medical person and potentially risk having disastrous results, and scars can be permanent and very difficult to correct.
“When patients travel abroad there is very little follow up if a problem occurs and there is no recourse to correct a problem – patients are generally brushed aside.”
What do experts advise?
With the popularity of medical tourism growing in recent years, the ISHRS is urging those considering surgery to do their homework before they book any procedures abroad.
It also warns that hair transplants in other countries may often differ to those performed in the UK, due to varying laws and regulations for surgical procedures.
Potential patients are advised to make sure they know the doctor who will be performing their surgery, verify the ISHRS credentials and training, and request to have an observer in the room to ensure a qualified surgeon is actually carrying it out – not an assistant.
“The best advice is to visit ISHRS.org and verify the doctors credentials,” says Dr Mejia.
“The website will list how many meetings they have attended and how long they have been in practice.
“Many of the top hair restoration surgeons who provide the best quality work will have attended various ISHRS meeting to ensure that they are on top of the latest trends and providing the best care and treatment.”