The rise of black market hair transplant clinics in the UK

Mr D’Souza answer some questions on the black market hair transplant industry

What is a black market hair transplant clinic?

The term black market hair transplant clinic refers to clinics who use non-medical personnel, usually technicians, to perform the surgical steps of a hair transplant surgery. 

This practise goes against guidance from both the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery (BAHRS) and the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS). 

The General Medical Council (GMC) have also made their position clear. The below is taken from the BAHRS website.

Thanks for writing to us. In your email you ask for our opinion on the issue of doctors delegating surgical practices to an assistant- you also ask about the legal aspects of this question. Although we are unable to give advice on the law (you’d have to seek independent legal advice for that) I can certainly set out the relevant principles in our professional guidance to doctors. In our core guidance, Good medical practice, we say that all doctors must make the care of the patient their first concern; provide a good standard of practice and care and work with colleagues in ways that best serve patients’ interests (GMP, duties of a doctor). Doctors are able to delegate aspects of patients’ care to other members of the team, but only when they are satisfied that the person providing care has the appropriate qualifications, skills and experience to provide safe care for the patient (GMP, paragraph 45); or that the person will be adequately supervised. Doctors are accountable for decisions to transfer care to others, and the steps they take to ensure that patient safety is not compromised. Whenever a doctor delegates care they remain responsible for the overall management of the patient (Delegation and referral, paragraph 2-5). We also say in GMP that doctors must be familiar and keep up to date with guidelines and developments that affect their work (paragraphs 11-12). This includes any relevant clinical guidance such as the guidance published by the Cosmetic Practice Standards Authority which expressly sets out that all surgical steps of hair transplant procedures should be carried out by the GMC licenced doctors. If you have concerns that the actions or omissions of a doctor are putting patients at harm, then you can use our online referral form to tell us more. There is more information about the process on our webpages here. Thanks again for writing to us, I hope this response in helpful to you in deciding what to do next. Yours sincerely GMC Standards and Ethics Team
ISHRS Live Stream in Association with the BAHRS

How do I identify a black market hair transplant clinic? 

There are an increasing number of black market clinics all over the world including the UK and if you are a prospective patient it is important to know what to look out for. 

These are some of the hallmarks of a black market clinic – 

  1. Time limited discounts and special offers
  2. Package deals 
  3. Unlimited grafts
  4. Guaranteed results 
  5. Scarless Surgery 
  6. Operative plan such as graft numbers and hair transplant technique decided by a sales advisor aka ‘patient advocate’ 
  7. You do not meet your surgeon until the day of surgery 
  8. The clinic website does not list their surgeons nor their qualifications or experience

There is also a very good article on the BAHRS website which give advice to patients looking for a hair transplant surgeon/clinic.

What is the worst that could happen? 

I occasionally see patients at consultation who have already booked their hair transplant surgery overseas. They often want to get a second opinion before flying out to check that the surgical plan seems sensible and they are not doing anything out of the norm. 

Unfortunately a lot of patients are unaware of the potential complications from hair transplant surgery. When performed correctly hair transplant surgery is a very safe and there are very few issues post-op. However in the wrong hands a lot of things that can go wrong, especially when the donor area is not respected and promises of unlimited graft numbers need to be fulfilled. 

Below are just some of the potential complications with hair transplant surgery –

  1. Bleeding
  2. Infection
  3. Scarring
  4. Over-harvesting of the donor
  5. Necrosis 
  6. Poor growth, angulation, density 
  7. Poor hairline design – too low, flat, unnatural 
  8. Poor surgical planning – no thought to lifetime yield of donor

How do I choose the best hair clinic for me? 

There are many factors to take into account. There are two articles on the site which go through in detail how to go about choosing the best hair transplant clinic and the best hair transplant surgeon for you. 

Talk to your Surgeon about your hair loss

Call us +44 (0) 207 770 6538

Mr D’Souza personally leads each new patient call and consultation.
What’s involved at a consultation?.

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