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Consumer Alert Regarding the Dangers of Unlicensed Technicians Performing Hair Restoration Surgery

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ISHRS_350The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgeons (ISHRS), a not-for-profit medical association focused on medical and surgical outcomes excellence in the field of hair restoration, recently issued a consumer alert warning patients of the risk of having hair restoration surgery performed by an unlicensed technician. Dr. Dan McGrath, a Diplomate of the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgeons (ABHRS), applauds this push to educate patients on the importance of assuring that only the physician and other licensed personnel perform hair graft extraction and make all incisional sites for hair graft placement.

A growing number of spas and medical offices that do not specialize in hair restoration are using unlicensed technicians to perform all or some aspects of hair restoration surgery. This puts patients at risk for misdiagnosis, unnecessary or ill advised surgery which jeopardizes patient safety and outcomes. There may also be a risk that unlicensed technicians may not be covered by malpractice insurance.

ISHRS strongly recommends that only a licensed physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant practicing within the scope of his or her license perform hair restoration surgery.

“As new automated technology has become available to make hair transplantation easier, more and more practices are leaning on the technology to do the surgeries instead of using a specifically trained  licensed health care professional,” said Dr. McGrath. “This type of practice is not only irresponsible, but can have debilitating consequences for a patient. A licensed practitioner with a specialty in hair restoration has the medical, surgical and artistic training to handle all aspects of surgical hair restoration."

The ISHRS believes the following aspects of hair restoration surgery should only be performed by a licensed physician*:

  • Preoperative diagnostic evaluation and consultation
  • Surgery planning
  • Surgery execution including:
    • Donor hair harvesting
    • Hairline design
    • Recipient site creation
  • Management of other patient medical issues and possible adverse reactions
  • Post-operative care

The ISHRS and Dr. McGrath recommend that patients ask the following questions when considering a hair transplant to ensure patient safety and best hair restoration results:

  1. Who will evaluate my hair loss and recommend a course of treatment?  What is their education, training, licensure, and experience in treating hair loss?
  2. Who will be involved in performing my surgery, what role will they play, and what is their education, training, licensure, and experience performing hair restoration surgery?
  3. Will anyone not licensed by the state be making incisions or harvesting grafts during my surgery?  If so, please identify this person, explain their specific role and why they are legally permitted to perform it.
  4. Is everyone involved in my surgery covered by malpractice insurance?

Dr. Dan McGrath is Medical Director of McGrath Medical based in Austin, TX. Dr. McGrath is a member of the ABHRS, the only certification program recognized by the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery. He is one of less than 300 hair replacement surgeons around the world to have achieved this level of expertise in hair restoration surgery. Dr. Mcgrath also performed a year long Hair Transplantation Fellowship under the tutelage of some of the world's leading surgeons before beginning his career in hair restoration surgery. Less than 20 hair surgeons worldwide have dedicated the time and energy to refine their skills through a fellowship program.