Before embarking upon any surgery it is important to consider many factors and ask many questions. Like any important decision in life, surgery is a decision that should not be taken lightly or in haste.
The way in which one approaches the subject will usually change depending on several criteria, age for example is an important factor. The younger the hair loss sufferer is the more prone they could be to making rash decisions and ones that could be more emotionally based rather than logic based in an attempt to regain what was lost as soon as possible and this is also understandable.
Hair loss at an early age is devastating and the initial thoughts are often very emotional, indeed mine was. Little to no thought is often given with regards to any future loss and many therefore fall into the trap of having surgery too young to only regret it at a later stage as they are then chasing further loss without necessarily having the donor to complete and cover the eventual loss they will suffer. I and others have seen this time and time again in consultations with patients who have been too young and ill prepared for the next years of loss.
Most clinics will have good protocols in place before offering a surgical solution and age and potential loss is usually considered very early on and something we at BHR Clinic will seek to educate on and also see this in other clinics also and glad to say nobody has a monopoly on good practice.
Medication is also a topic discussed at early stages. The hair loss sufferer today has many more options available to them that simply were not there in years past and I as an elder hair loss sufferer really had no options when younger at all other than risk the array of so called cures out there that were both expensive and ineffective and I shudder when I recall all the things I personally tried. FDA approved medications are now widely available, Propecia and Minoxidil are at the forefront of these options and the patient is advised to see their own GP or healthcare provider who can take into account also medical history and then advise on suitability.
There are also other treatment options accessible with varying success in the form of Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) and even herbal approaches, such as Saw Palmetto or Nettle Root for example, that for some may also be beneficial or other supplements such as Keratene Retard or the like, the list is indeed growing steadily.
Once age, medication and future loss have been discussed then the next step is to look at the individual goals of the patient. What are they seeking to achieve and how? What technique is preferred or indeed practical?
The doctor/clinic will usually ask for clear photos, age, medication, goals, previous surgery history in the initial emails in order to provide an initial assessment to the inquirer. Then a consultation is usually booked, so that aside from the initial assessment, a more in depth evaluation can be undertaken. At this stage, both clinic and inquirer should have a good understanding of the case, and any possible complications, and therefore the time spent in the consultation can be most productive and address some hands on issues, such as the doctor checking density, laxity, while also considering the prospective hair design, and any further hair-loss potential etc. The elementary issues of a transplant should have been ideally dealt prior to this stage but there will be room for a question and answer session and usually photographs or on screen displays of the inquirer’s donor area will be available for them to see. Visual aids help tremendously in helping the doctor to explain such things as donor density, miniaturisation, while also photographing any potential design.
Once the data has been collated the doctor can then explain the best options available to the patient, be it medication or surgical etc. If surgical then the technique best suited for them is discussed, based upon their hair loss, goals and immediate and long term expectations.
The inquirer is wise to get several opinions as doctors and clinics do vary greatly in approach, so, it is prudent to initially contact several clinics and then narrow the selection down to a few for consultations. Meeting patients could then be the next option so that one may see the work of the clinic in the flesh, while also asking additional questions that may be of help before deciding on surgery. Of course meeting the clinic rep is of paramount importance, not only to see the quality of the work but also to gain more knowledge about the clinic and doctor.
If the above is followed, then the inquirer is certainly on the right road and will limit, if not eliminate, the risk of making poor decisions.