THE BLOG

When Surgery Gets a Little Bit Hairy

10/02/2014 15:37 GMT | Updated 12/04/2014 10:59 BST

For those who love to get to grips with the ins and outs of surgery in all its glory, Channel 5's 'Botched Up Bodies' is dream viewing. On a recent episode, I operated on a patient who had previously spent in excess of £7,000 on hair transplant surgeries - which sadly, yielded little result.

The man in question, 49 year-old Michael Avola, began to lose his hair at the age of 23. He decided to take action to combat his receding hairline a few years later, but six operations and a substantial sum on, Michael's hairline showed no signs of recovery.

When I examined his hair, it was plain to see that there was not as much re-growth as would be expected from one operation, let alone six, and the grafts that had been placed didn't fall naturally. Michael was also left with a number of scars where donor hair had been taken, when only one insertation was necessary.

These combined factors reiterates how vitally important it is that hair transplant surgery is properly regulated - and only carried out by a qualified and preferably experienced professional.

In the right hands, a hair transplant is an incredibly safe procedure. With increased media exposure, it has become the most popular form of cosmetic surgery for men. However, as there are no formal regulations dictating who can perform such surgery, it is perhaps inevitable that mishaps such as this will occur.

Understandably, Michael's unsuccessful surgeries affected him massively and caused a great deal of psychological pain. As with any elective surgery, a hair transplant should not be taken lightly and requires a great deal of consideration. Therefore, it is unsurprising that when surgeries do go wrong, or don't yield the promised results, the patient is left devastated.

Michael's case should have been a relatively straightforward one. However, the result of his original surgeries was such that all I was able to do is cover the area at the front of the head where hair had been transplanted and had not grown through. It would be impossible to achieve full coverage for him - the operation I performed was about disguising the results of the patient's previous surgeries, as there was simply not enough donor follicles left to re-create a full head of hair.

Michael's first surgery took place around 20 years ago and it's undeniable that massive advancements have been made in industry since then. However, the results he'd been left with were not simply down to out-of-date techniques. The errors that have been made in Michael's case can be put down to a lack of knowledge, lack of artistry, lack of care and ultimately a lack of regulation.

The lack of regulation that surrounds hair transplants means that no specific qualifications are required to perform the procedure. This inevitably leads to medical professionals without sufficient expertise performing surgery that does not meet the high standards patients should expect.

The moral of this story is that it's vital to do your homework. Research your surgeon carefully, look into the different techniques available and consider your options thoroughly.