Patients with scalp hair loss generally seek surgical hair restoration
when they see no other treatment working for them. Patients anguished by hair loss, have many doubts in their mind when they approach a hair restoration clinic/center. The main doubt is about the outcome of surgical hair restoration
. Moreover, they are apprehensive about the money and time they would be required to spend for their hair restoration surgery
Men and women visiting a hair restoration centre or clinic have many different motives for desiring hair restoration. ‘Looking younger’ is the primary motive behind most of these clinic consultations! Some consider hair as the integral part of their personality and losing hair disturbs their overall sense of wellbeing. And for women, hair is nothing less than the symbol of their femininity.
Make an educated decision about your hair restoration surgery
Whatever the motive, the decision to undertake hair restoration surgery should be an educated one before any desperate patient becomes an easy game for the unscrupulous hair restoration surgeon playing on fears and panic of his patients for immediate financial gain. This can lead to wasted money and at worst, cosmetically tragic consequences for the patient.
The key components that can allow the patient to agree for hair restoration surgery in a hair restoration center without fear and apprehension are patient education and compassionate counseling on various aspects of surgical hair restoration. The counseling of a patient at a hair restoration clinic or center may also be taken up by a person other than the hair restoration surgeon who is well-versed with psychological, financial and realistic aspects of the hair restoration surgery .
Remember that for a patient agreeing to the hair restoration surgery without being informed it is like a long story, which slowly unfolds with unpredictable moments of surprises, joys or sorrows!
Counseling at a Hair Restoration Center/Clinic
A patient’s education and counseling in a hair restoration clinic or center helps him or her to be the realistic about the outcomes of hair transplant surgery and cooperate with the hair restoration surgeon for designing the hair line or deciding the future course of the surgeries.
Along with the patient’s education, his or her psychology is also an important aspect of hair restoration surgery. A patient should never expect miracles from the hair restoration surgery but only that which is actually possible as briefed by the hair restoration surgeon.
Any article on counseling would not be complete without a discussion of the factors that lead to a patient’s dissatisfaction with the outcome of hair restoration surgery. The dissatisfaction rate among the patients undergoing surgical hair restoration is approximately 2%, even in the best hair restoration clinics.
With the slick, overstated advertising of modern hair restoration surgery techniques and the high surgical fee charged by hair restoration surgeons, it is very natural for the patient to expect too much from their hair transplant surgeon. Encouraged by aggressive litigation lawyers, the patients can even go to the extent of suing their hair restoration surgeon. But most commonly what the patients do is to grumble about the postoperative pain and lack of graft hair density when they do the follow-up visits at their hair restoration center.
A pre-operative counseling session at the hair restoration clinic definitely helps in reducing the disappointment rate with the hair restoration surgery performed by any hair restoration surgeon . The prospective hair restoration patient needs to understand what results can realistically be produced with hair restoration surgery given their particular hair loss pattern.
Understanding the psychology of the patient
Let’s also see the other side of the coin! No matter how careful and ethical the operating hair restoration surgeon is, there is a small group of patients who are very difficult to satisfy. Although no patient can ever be completely happy even with best of results, some patients due to their subverted psychology are much more difficult to please!
Experience has shown that young men aged 18–28 years have a higher dissatisfaction rate than men in older age groups. Their emotional immaturity plays a major role in this regard. Such men may have psychiatric problems, but a blunt denial by the hair restoration surgeon for a hair restoration surgery can deprive those patients of the undoubted benefits of hair restoration surgery.
Counseling can surely help in such cases and also in most other cases of patients who are suitable candidates for a hair transplant surgery. It is absolutely essential for the hair transplant surgeon to ascertain the patient’s wishes and requirements during the initial consultation. If these desires are unrealistic, then this must be carefully discussed with the patient .
A patient needs to know that donor hair varies enormously in both quantity and quality, as does the size of the balding area. Although balding follows a typical pattern in most cases, the characteristic features of donor hair and scalp can vary in different individuals. A patient should always know that in the course of time, further expansion of the patient’s bald area and concurrent reduction of potential donor hair and is inevitable. In this regard, if a hair restoration surgeon sees very little chance of success with the hair restoration surgery, he must be prepared to reject or defer the patients! That can save the patients from future emotional trauma much bigger than the trauma of being rejected for hair transplant surgery.
Understanding the viewpoint of the Hair Transplant Surgeon
Similarly, the counseling session with the patient for designing of his or her hair line also helps the hair transplant surgeon. Considerations of the individual patient’s facial structure, expectations, and hair quality are a must. But, though the quantity and quality of hair varies, the concepts of hair transplant surgery remain the same for every hair transplant surgery performed. By creative planning, judicious use of available donor hair and aesthetic and strategic placing of hair follicle grafts, a hair transplant surgeon can do much for the patient’s expectations!
Following a conservative course for the hair transplant surgery does not mean that talking to the patient about his or her expectations is no use at all. Perhaps the greatest challenges sometimes do not lie in the actual hair transplantation procedures, but in the counseling process itself. And getting the patient, especially the young patient (at high risk of developing more advanced baldness in the future) willingly agreeing to undergo a conservative hair restoration is like wining half the battle! If a young bald person insists upon a hairline like other peers of his age, he is perhaps demanding something unnatural without any consideration for his future hair loss. And in such cases it all depends upon the counselor to convince the young person to understand that an older, but a natural look is far better than an unnatural young look for a short period of time.
This is but a single example, and there can be numerous other cases where counseling can save both the hair restoration surgeon and the patient from future emotional upset.
1. Dominic A. Brandy, MD: ‘The The Art of Mixing Follicular Units and FollicularGroupings in Hair Restoration Surgery’, Dermatol Surg 30:6:June 2004, 846-856
2. Jefferey S.Epstein, MD: ‘Hair Transplantation for Men with Advanced Degrees of Hair Loss’, Plast Reconstr Surg, Vol. 111, No. 1 , 414-421