A hair transplant unlike many other beauty treatments that you buy is permanent. Whether good or bad, you cannot wish it away.
And in most cases you live with it!
Hair transplant is a cosmetic surgical procedure and is an Investment of your precious Time, Hard earned money and most of all your Emotions.
So if you get a bad hair transplant how will you feel?
The commonest reasons why people get a bad result is when they go bargain hunting. Desperate buyers seeking irrational discounts will almost always meet desperate hair transplant traders.
Bad hair transplants far outnumber good hair transplants in a vitiated hair transplant industry that has become almost fully commercial having mostly slipped out of the hands of the ethical doctor who did this procedure with passion and skills he learned the hard way.
Almost everyone is doing a hair transplant. It is said that in New York if you walk 10,000 steps you will encounter a hair transplant clinic. In India, you do not have to exert more than 1000 steps but in parts of cities like Delhi and Ludhiana, just 10 steps will lead you to the next hair transplant clinic!
In Turkey, there is the talk of taxi drivers and Syrian refugees doing procedures. In India unskilled janitors and pantry hands assist the team in every crucial step. The USA is not far behind. Migrants operating patients in hotels are well known since 2 decades.
Safety, ethics, and compassion are at a premium in the hair transplant industry. Very few clinics deliver what they promise today. Falsehoods, make belief and scams are as much a part of hair transplant as they are in the society we live in today.
There is absolutely no State regulation in this gray field. Almost every speciality has thrown its hat into the ring, ringing in a new era of deceit deception and disaster. ENT specialists, neurosurgeons, gynaecologists and God Help me dentists all consider they were first borns.
When earlier clinics competed in better service and results, today the goalpost has changed. Hair transplant is being sold as a commodity and hence the cost of hair transplant is foremost in the unsuspecting patient’s mind when he searches for a clinic. He feels all clinics are the same since it is a commodity that is being sold.
The Qualification of the Surgeon:
In surgical procedures, there is laid down the hierarchy of domain.
The hair transplant hierarchical pyramid has the speciality of plastic surgery at the pinnacle. The next lower is Dermatology. Other parasitic specialities like ENT, Gynecology, Pediatrics, Dentistry that are a mismatch are placed lowest in order. So if a plastic surgeon does your procedure and if he or she is a full-time hair transplant surgeon completely dedicated to the art and science of hair restoration, you will be benefited by his superior skills at microsurgery under magnification and knowledge of wound healing. This will make his procedure cost you more than that by other specialities.
Dermatologists and Facial Plastic Surgeons are increasingly being accepted as hair transplant surgeons today and they far outnumber plastic surgeons in the field now due to their large numbers vis a vis Plastic Surgeons who are few since their’s is a super speciality.
Other specialities like gynaecologists and child specialists, to name a few have an opportunistic relationship with the hair transplant. Lacking skills and knowledge they are mostly youtube trained managers and will stay in the field as long as it is profitable till they seek new greener pastures and move on. For them hair transplant is a commercial initiative and not what they were trained for or where their heart lies.
Experience of the Surgeon:
How long has the surgeon been in this field? How many cases has he done himself?
Does he do the important steps of the case himself?
Just running a clinic for 25 years as a mute spectator watching technicians do the entire procedure does not a hair transplant surgeon make.
How much work will be done by your doctor?
Many surgeons feel supervision alone and maybe the collection of fees are the most important steps.
In a procedure where there are so many variables, the harvesting and slit making should be constants done by only one surgeon. This should be the signature of the clinic.
I will do the entire counselling and hairline design. Before I harvest the grafts myself,I will give local anesthesia with an anesthetist in attendance. I will also make the slits in the right angle and direction so the hairline looks natural and density is high. Also, complex parts like the whorl pattern and fish-tailing in the temple areas need a lot of skill and artistry. This is my USP and the reason the most crucial parts of the procedure are controlled and constant for all cases. I do not do the whole procedure since it is very laborious and backbreaking if done alone. Working under strong lights with bent posture and high magnification will not allow the best of care if done alone. A tired surgeon is not in your best interest. Hence the plantation of grafts in premade slits is allocated to trained nurses who rotate every 30 minutes to stay fresh and alert while planting, for plantation is also an important step too.
Is the Staff qualified?
At Darling Buds Clinic and at other clinics that have the safety of the patient in their minds, only qualified staff is employed. Critical tasks in the procedure are handled by the surgeon with assistance from staff which is competent and realise the value of sterility and prevention of cross-contamination. (PICTURE).
Is Staff permanent? How long have they been with the Surgeon?
At Darling Buds Clinic we reward good work by nurses. Most of the staff work in a safe happy environment and are paid commensurate with their skills and experience. Hence their attrition rate is low.
Proper Instruments, Lighting, Magnification and Punch size(PICTURE COLLAGE) help in giving a natural result without side effects of shock loss and overharvesting giving an unsightly hairline and patchy pock-marked scalp donor. (photos of overharvesting, unnatural hairlines).
At Darling Buds, we have always used state of the art equipment sourced from the USA and Europe. Lighting is high end and magnification devices used are top-notch in the field. Punches are imported and vary in size from 0.7 mm – 0.85 mm. Systems are frequently upgraded and maintenance is done as scheduled. This definitely adds to the cost compared to the low-cost clinics that use locally available dental drills with large size punches. Dental drills cause overheating and are detrimental to obtaining viable grafts. Large punch sizes leave noticeable scarring in the donor and can be seen from a distance. This is due to overharvesting and shock loss of surrounding hairs. (Picture)
Quality comes at a price and this is true for hair transplant too.
Technician done procedures. Why are they different?
Technicians are easy to hire. Every small town and city has multiple teams that moonshine and freelance all 24 hours running from clinic to clinic. Since they do low-cost procedures in dodgy clinics, they are hard-pressed for money. To make ends meet, they will do several cases a day in multiple clinics. They are always in a tearing hurry. Also, the dynamics of the Technician Team keeps changing and it is not likely that a patient is ever going to meet a person of the team ever again. Whom will he blame if things go wrong? They won’t even give receipts of payment or signed case summaries.
Is the procedure going to be done in the Safety of a Hospital?
Hair transplant is a surgical procedure though most think it to be like a visit to the beauty parlor or hair dresser’s salon.
Recently 5 deaths in Asia happened due to infection and shock.
This happens when safety is given short shrift.
Most clinics around the world do hair transplants in an office setting. Safety measures are built-in but emergency care is always lacking. This is preferred popular way since it brings down the cost of investment. In India, many clinics are run out of one room tenements with poor ventilation, abysmal standards sterilisation, and overcrowding of cases undergoing procedures in the same hall (Picture). As you can see over 10 patients are being done with the same instrumentation with just one technician incharge per case.
In another video (Video) you can see how in an outhouse clinic in India the washroom is dirty and is being used to give the patient the first wash after the procedure. Would you want this just to save some money? We surely cannot give this cost for your hair transplant.
Contracting dangerous viral diseases like HIV is not a wise thing to do just to avail a cheap and dangerous hair transplant. Dirty neighborhoods add to the risk. Standalone Clinics located in crowded localities or in high rise buildings have little response time if an emergency occurs. Lack of lifts in such building will make evacuation difficult if there is an anaphylactic reaction. A technician alone cannot manage a medical mishap if it happens God forbid. (Other Clinic)
To make procedures safe for my clients at Darling Buds, I built my own hospital and we have all emergency measures in place. A full time anesthetist is present to monitor patients and to deal with any medical emergency if it may occur.
This adds to the cost of hair transplant.
Is the Operation Room sterile or will you get an infection?
A proper SOP is required to maintain a bug-free operation room. This entails weekly sterilisation and frequent swabs for cultures taken from the walls and floors to ensure the OR is bacteria free and you are safe. Also, it requires operation theaters to be closed for 48 hours every week. Proper sterilisation and maintenance of ORs will cost money and this will add to the COST of hair transplant.
To ensure that diseases from one patient is not transmitted to another, disposable equipment should never be reused.
Workload at the Clinic:
At Darling Buds I do one case a day, 5 days a week. This gives me enough time to recuperate since the procedure entails odd angles the spine is positioned in and the best results can only be given if I am well rested between procedures. If another clinic does 5-10 cases a day, I cannot match their cost. Ofcourse they will charge one tenth of the cost I will charge you. Against my 100 per graft they will charge 10 per graft, but what you miss out on is who is doing the procedure. No doctor can do 10 cases in day. They will say they do, but how can you counter them once the cash is paid before the procedure. It is logical. Darling Buds is not an assembly line clinic or a hair transplant factory churning out cases day in and day out. And that is why we give results.
Will you pay before or after the procedure?
Many patients having had bad procedures told me they never met the surgeon after they paid the amount in the morning of the procedure. At Darling Buds, we never take the full amount before the procedure. Since graft counts may be lesser than promised, it is not possible to do the full billing before the procedure. Also, it gives assurance to the patient that all will go as promised.
Did the Clinic give you an opportunity to count the grafts?
If there is going to be cheating in number of grafts we at Darling Buds Clinic cannot compete with their cost.
What is the current cost per graft?
There is no one cost of hair transplant.
In India, the cost of hair transplant varies from 10 cents to USD 1.5 per graft plus 18% GST. In the USA and most of Europe, however, this will vary from USD 3- USD 10 per graft.
Many patients travel to India for a hair transplant from as far away as the USA and Canada. For them many clinics have tailormade packages that include stay and in city travel. Some clinics will also include medicines for 6 months. Some will offer a holiday for a week or so which may be partly or fully discounted by the clinic.
Cost of hair transplant also varies depending upon the demand and supply which varies from season to season. For example in India, there is a common myth that any surgery should not be done during the peak of Summers and in the Monsoons. This is the time when smart patients can get a procedure done at a lesser cost. The discount during this season may be almost 50% of the clinics’ cost for a hair transplant This season lasts from April to July.
Cost Cutting and GST
Many clinics will charge you less and skip the GST, accepting the full amount in cash. No Bill or Documentation will be shared. No bill means No responsibility for their work. So no fear of litigation because the patient is party to Tax Evasion.
Sometimes a clinic will have a compulsion not to give a receipt of payment. A clinic run by technician cannot give a receipt since that will turn them in.
Are you paying for a commodity or a Skill?
Unlike for example a bottle of coke. You may like to buy it from a street side vend and not a 5 star hotel because you know it is the same quality only it costs more at the hotel. This does not hold true for a hair transplant since we are not selling a commodity and quality varies from one doctor to another, one clinic to the next.
Therefore we cannot compare our cost with clinics which sell hair transplant as a commodity and not a skill.
I also do not say that doctors should charge what they want. The cost should be affordable, justifiable and same for all. What is promised should be delivered without compromising the rights of the patient.
If your budget does not meet the cost, you can save money and plan the procedure or you can take an easy loan which many clinics can arrange.
But compromising with your health, self-esteem and results may not be in your best interest.
So in short, we cannot compete in cost of hair transplant with Clinics that-
i) Replace the Surgeon with a Technician
ii) With a clinic that works with skeleton non-permanent staff
iii) With a clinic that is a hair transplant factory
iv) With a clinic that is not in the safety of a hospital
v) With a clinic that uses third-grade second-hand instruments and reusing them, again and again, risking your health
vi) With a clinic that Compromises with safety, sterility & sanitation
vii) With a clinic that does not charge GST and does not give receipts
viii) With a clinic that sells a commodity, and not a skill.
A badly done hair transplant is a complete loss to you. Tangible losses can be measured in monetary terms but the greater intangible loss that cannot be measured is your greatest loss.
Loss of grafts that did not survive,
permanent shock loss depleting the donor,
bad hairlines which cannot be repaired and
Remember, the cost of a revision procedure is 500% more than what you initially paid for, and you still will never be able to get it right..
So, Get it right the first time. Hair transplant seldom allows a second chance. Your grafts are limited. Your skin will never be the same if scarring sets in after a bad procedure. Do your research well and then choose the doctor you are comfortable with.
For, there are no second chances in Love, War & Hair Transplant.