- Monday.May 27. 2019
By their 40s, almost half of all men in Australia are affected by hair loss. Many accept it as a normal part of ageing. However, it can be extremely distressing for some, impacting self-conﬁdence and contributing to feelings of anxiety and depression.
Vulnerable people can be seduced into considering desperate measures, including visiting black market hair clinics, says international award-winning hair restoration surgeon Dr Jennifer Martinick, who operates in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth.
‘‘People are being lured to pirate clinics across the world at an alarming rate,’’ says Dr Martinick, past president and Fellow of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (FISHRS).
‘‘Turkey is the number one destination, then Pakistan, India, Iran and the United States. Staffed by people with no training – although there might be one doctor of dubious credentials to mislead patients – they promise low prices and guaranteed results.
‘‘Instead, they are causing devastating harm, including injuries and scarring, over-harvested donor areas and-or irreparable donor and aesthetic results.
‘‘These rogue operators pay large sums to advertise online and on social media, using terms like ‘no pain’, ‘no scars’, ‘leading clinic’ and ‘easy’. All untrue,’’ says Dr Martinick.
‘‘They may further attract patients with extras such as ﬁve-star accommodation and airfare. No clinical advice is given to patients on whether they are a good candidate – they operate on anyone who pays. Results are ‘guaranteed’, knowing overseas patients will not return to complain about over-harvesting and poor implantation.’’
“Such operators ignore the high attention to detail hair restoration surgeons must have in order to give patients safe, natural-looking and long-lasting results”, she says.
The preferred method used at Martinick Hair Restoration, which treats men at Man Cave Sydney’s CBD clinic, is follicular unit transplantation (FUT), in which follicles are removed in a strip from a donor area at the back of the patient’s scalp.
The small scar that results can be hidden by hair. ‘‘This is the chosen method at Martinick Hair because of the very high survival rate of transplanted follicles,’’ says Dr Martinick.
‘‘Methods like FUE (follicular unit excision) sound great at ﬁrst, as there will be no visible linear scar, but a permanent ‘‘moth-eaten’’ look instead. The survival rate of FUE follicles (also known as blind harvesting) is much less because of not being microscopically dissected as in a ‘strip’. Why go through all that to have a low percentage follicle survival, all for the sake of avoiding a small scar?’’
‘Pirate Clinics’ Can’t Match Surgical Skill
Dr Martinick urges consumers to do vital research prior to seeking hair restoration and choose a doctor whose credentials can be veriﬁed.
‘‘Hair transplant surgery is just that – surgery. It requires a properly trained hair transplant surgeon who is practising under a licence and in a regulated clinic. You should choose a surgeon who is both ISHRS and FISHRS-registered,” she says.
‘‘Patients have varying hair types and hair-loss patterns so a conveyor belt-like surgery, such as those undertaken in black market clinics, will not be suitable to all.
‘‘A consultation is mandatory, where an assessment is made about how much hair has been lost to date and the identifying signs of future loss, as hair loss is continuous throughout life.”
‘‘If only the front section is treated, in years to come these patients will have more loss and likely need more surgery. Hair transplant surgery has a high success rate and results are permanent if done well. However, people’s safety and wellbeing are at risk if they don’t do their homework.’’
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risk. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.