Warning Against Medical Tourism and Black-Market Clinics
As a specialist in botched and corrective hair transplants, Dr. Amir Yazdan of Modena Hair Institute has noticed a troubling trend of hair transplant patients who are traveling to countries like Turkey and Bulgaria for ‘low priced’ surgeries. Just this year the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (IAHRS) – of which Dr. Yazdan is a dedicated member – has authored an official statement warning against medical tourism and black-market clinics.
“Hair transplant patients are being lured to black market pirate clinics across the world, at an alarming rate. They are promised low prices and guaranteed results. Unfortunately, these ‘clinics’, where surgeries are performed by non-doctors with little or no training, are causing irreparable harm.” – Official IAHRS Statement
The ISHRS found that nearly 80% of its distinguished members have seen a sharp rise in the number of patients coming to their clinics, seeking help after their surgery has gone wrong in the hands of a rogue and often illegal clinic.
Lack of Expertise
In black-market clinics, the surgeries are rarely, if ever, carried out by a qualified specialist. Most often it is a technician with minimal training who will be performing the operation and administering the anesthesia, with zero direct oversight by a certified surgeon. This allows the clinic to offer cheaper prices than if they were using trained and licensed hair transplant surgeons, but, of course, makes it far more dangerous. There have been reports of completely unqualified practitioners carrying out these highly intricate and skilled procedures in places like Turkey, Eygpt, Bulgaria, Brazil and Iran, but there exists such clinics in the West as well.
Lack of Proper Diagnosis
At Modena Hair Institute in California and Las Vegas, we consider the initial consultation process to be the most important part of all of our treatments, as this is where we will be able to work out the best options for our patients. It may be that surgery wouldn’t be suitable for them, in which case we would suggest alternative treatments. However, black market clinics have no interest in providing clinical advice to patients on whether or not they’d be a good candidate for the surgery – as long as they can pay, they will be accepted for a hair transplant. This means that people who aren’t suitable candidates will be wasting money on an operation that won’t actually yield desired results.
Lack of Medical Technique
The quality of the transplants, unsurprisingly, is likely to be extremely poor. Scarring and infections are common, as is ‘over-harvesting’, where too much donor hair is removed, meaning that there won’t be enough hair to use for future surgeries. Worse still, the donor at the back may look like it has chunks missing. Unnatural, disfiguring hairlines and hair growing in the wrong direction as a result of follicles being placed poorly are also common results. The clinics often tend to offer a large number of grafts – usually between 2,000 – 4,000 graft extractions per session – but with no consideration for the patient’s degree of hair loss.
Identifying which clinics overseas and domestically are illegitimate and unethical is difficult to do with a simple internet search. These clinics often fake reviews and testimonies, and pay large marketing sums to promote their services on Google and other prominent platforms. Some key things you can do to verify the legitimacy of a clinic are:
- An extensive background check on the clinic through review sites like RealSelf
- An inquiry into the propriety of their certification
- An inquiry into the level of specialization, experience and results of the clinic
Dr. Amir Yazdan, MD, is an internationally renowned hair transplant surgeon, expert guest on Dr. Phil and The Doctors, creator of the GroMD hair restoration product line, ISHRS member, accredited member of the IAHRS and a visceral advocate for patient care. Learn more about Dr. Yazdan or read rave reviews from his patients.