Dr. Cole just returned from FUE Europe in Malaga, Spain, where he was a co-scientific director, and Beijing, China, for the 6th AAHRS Conference, where he was an invited guest speaker on hairline symmetry.
Productive Meetings, New Understandings
Both meetings were scientifically valuable. Malaga focused on FUE while Beijing also examined strip harvesting such as FUT. Most of note, this was the first Beijing AAHRS conference when famous strip surgeons acknowledged that FUE is the most viable future of hair transplant surgery. FUE surgeons in Beijing, meanwhile, still believe that strip surgery is valuable for advanced levels of hair loss; however, near all research shows that advanced hair loss is precisely when strips like FUT contraindicate ineffectiveness.
FUT is Less Effective for Advanced Hair Loss
Leaving more hair to cover a FUT strip scar means less hair for transplantation. Further, research shows strip harvesting kills hair through traction alopecia. Strip surgeons are also precluding themselves from advancing in the field of hair restoration, as FUE surgeons improve with each patient and FUE harvesting itself requires more skill and surgical time. No surgeon should ever advocate for an elective procedure they cannot perform. Sadly, a growing amount of cosmetic surgeons are offering FUE without building the essential experience or skill set and relegating essential tasks to medical assistants.
New Advances, New Challenges
The most significant risk to patients today, therefore, is the entrance of plastic surgeons using medical assistants to harvest FUE grafts. Hair transplantation is more complex than most plastic surgery procedures but plastic surgeons looking to boost their income ignore this important fact. Many clinics offering hair transplantations are not seeking to exploit patients, per say, but because the clinic’s surgeons lack training they regard the procedure as simple when, in fact, it is not.
Put bluntly, hair transplant surgery is a complex undertaking that requires a fine understanding of trichology and aesthetics. Every week Forhair consults for patients with subpar, if not devastating, results from surgeons unskilled in hair transplantation employing unlicensed assistants to perform the entire operation. What makes it worse, and unsettling, is that the surgeon often does not inform the patient that a medical assistant will perform the surgery.
Never Settle for Malpractice
This practice of assigning medical assistants to complete the entire operation is malpractice to Dr. Cole and other leading specialists. If trends continue as they are then medical malpractice lawsuits will most likely be the only solution for curbing the unlicensed practice of medicine by medical assistants. If it must, happen, though, it must happen. Shoddy hair transplant procedures are a travesty and lead to many unhappy lives that require more expensive, corrective surgery. Even more significant, such exploitation or arrogance undermines patients’ confidence in medicine as a whole, elective or otherwise. Medical boards will hopefully soon wise up to this enormous problem and resolve it. Until then, patients who do not perform research are at great peril. For more information on the risks of untrained surgeons or assistants, look to the International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons (IAHRS).
One additional point is that clinics who use the term or brand “Neograft” should anticipate that a medical assistant will do the surgery. Neograft is almost always inferior to other FUE techniques but, should a patient decide on Neograft, then they at least should perform a greater inspection of the clinic and its staff. Victims of botched or subpar procedures and they are victims to the medical community, should, at the least, consult with a malpractice attorney. There is never an excuse for an unlicensed medical assistant to perform a surgical procedure, ever.