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Anonymous Hair Transplant Forum Complaints - Should They Be Verified ?

Long gone are the days of the Better Business Bureau and the repercussions of being “reported” to the triple B. Today, consumers can bypass everything and make specific and direct complaints that can be seen by tens of thousands of people in a matter of hours. The problem is that we don’t know who is making a legitimate complaint and who is just trying to stir up trouble for their competitor. Jeff calls the show to share his perspective as a legitimate repair patient.

Spencer:  Hey, man. You're on the air. Who's this and where are you calling from?

Jeff:  Hey, it's Jeff from Connecticut.

Joe:  Hey, Jeff.

Spencer: Jeff from Connecticut, how are you?

Jeff:  I'm good, I'm good. How's it going?

Joe:  Oh, Jeff! I know this Jeff.

Jeff: Yeah, you know this Jeff.

Spencer: Wow, you got really excited, dude. What's going on?

Jeff: Yeah.

Spencer: Do I know this Jeff?

Joe: He's a good guy. I know this Jeff.

Jeff:  Yeah, I've called into the show before. I was just listening to you guys talking about this particular topic and I just think it's an important topic. I 100 percent agree with what you guys have been saying. Obviously, all these complaints need to be verified and I don't think it's appropriate for ... I'm sort of in this position right now. I'm not going to name my doctor's name, but I'm not happy with my overall result, but I don't think it's really appropriate for a patient to just go online just to seek retribution, just to harp on about how displeased he is about a doctor.

 I was sort of in the position of just doing it, not maliciously, but just to effect change. If you just see a confluence of the same complaints or the same concerns raised over and over again about a particular doctor, I'm sure that you being in the position you're in would make you more prone to investigate by a particular ...

Spencer: Listen, 100 percent. We spoke about this that we're going make some changes to the IHRS and not necessarily based on complaints, but also based on truth in advertising and other issues that I'm seeing that are really starting to concern me. I've already made some changes. I'm not here to destroy anybody's reputation, but the list is evolving, let's put it that way.

There are going to be some people removed, some people added and, unless it's something that I believe is really necessary for consumers to know, meaning that this doctor's harming people, we have a real consistent amount of complaints or whatever it is, then it's unnecessary for me to give different reasons that I may be stepping away because they're not harming anybody. You know what I'm saying?

But I definitely agree with you 100 percent. If I am seeing a consistent theme of guys like you who are reasonable, who are verifiable, we can verify the complaint, and it's the same thing over and over again, then of course we're going to investigate. And to be honest with you, I don't want to be a part of that.

Jeff:  Sure.

Spencer:  It only tarnishes everything that we're trying to do here.

Jeff:  Yeah, I know. A lot of guys go on the forum too, and I'm sure, and Joe knows plenty of them too, just they look for support and they probably don't do it in the best possible way. They have all this aggression inside and I've felt that aggression too, and you write on the forum and you're just trying to look for someone to validate you and I think validation is important. If you don't have anyone in your life that's gone through this exact same thing, it's hard for somebody who hasn't gone through this to emphasize with you. So, you say a lot of these aggressive things online hoping that somebody will feel the same way and then maybe people will jump onboard or maybe they won't, and it doesn't always come across the best possible way.

Spencer: Listen, I'm glad that you're actually talking about this. I'm not glad that you're a guy who's dealing with this, but it's coming from somebody who is dealing with this and I think it's important. I don't know what your exact story and you can explain it to me if you want, you're free to mention names. Whatever you want to do, you can do that on this program, but I think that you sound like a very reasonable guy who obviously has been adversely affected by their hair transplant experience.

Jeff:  I'm a little past ten months now, coming onto 11 months. And my receding area definitely, without a shadow of doubt, looked better before my transplant than after my transplant, and I had an FUE, a relatively small 1400 grabs, an FUE. I've talked to several other doctors after my procedure. Now, since I'm closing on the 12 month mark, and Joe referred me to one doctor in particular who's been very, very helpful. The donor looks like it's been over harvested even with such a small grab count, but I gave my particular doctor my word that I was not going to speak ill of him in a public domain and I'm going to keep my word on that.

Spencer: You sound like, I said it, you're a really reasonable guy and you sound like a real decent guy as well.

Jeff:  Do I think the situation has been handled in the most ethical way? Probably not, but are there less ethical doctors out there? Absolutely. The issue that's very near and dear to me is technician performed FUE extractions and being fully aware that the technician is going to be predominantly performing those extractions. I never said anything explicitly insulting on the forums, but in my posts, I probably came off as very gung ho and aggressive about this particular issue.

Spencer: I agree with you on this issue, and that's why, if you listen to the program on a regular basis, we talk about this issue a lot and we spoke about it tonight. I am getting to the point where I want to effect the same type of change that we were able to do when we first started this thing, when no one was doing follicle unit transplantation, when it was just completely the wild west.

What's happening now is that scenario is starting to resurface and it is the wild west again. And there's some really good doctors with great names who have done great strip in the past and are even capable of doing great FUE on their own, who are utilizing this Turkish model, this technician model, and they're not informing their patients. And it sounds like you're one of them.

Jeff: Yeah, I was definitely informed that technicians would be involved in helping my physician do the extractions. What I wasn't aware is that basically the doctor came in, did an initial test and gave his stamp of approval, "Okay, they're coming out okay," and then the technician took over.

Spencer:  Right.

Jeff:  At that point, I don't want to say that it was completely out of my control because you can stop it at any point, but when you're on the table and they've already started grabs out, being a young guy at 25, you just feel pressured to continue in a way.

Joe: It's not even that, it's not because you're 25. It's just because there's something about that situation that does paralyze you to a degree. I'm pushing 47 this year. Well, actually, last year when I was pushing 46, when I went to Turkey and did the undercover deal, which you saw the video, but what you didn't see, and I talked about before, they took my blood within five minutes of walking in this place. And I remember thinking to myself, alarm bells were going off in my head, "What the fuck am I doing? They're going to take my blood? What the hell?" And I didn't stop.

Part of it was I need to get the story, but, I'll be honest, the other part was, "Mah." I felt like I was livestock and I just couldn't do anything. I was paralyzed. It's a really discombobulating feeling.

Jeff: Yeah, I've talked to you, Joe, about this sort of ... I don't know, because you've had strip and I've had FUE, but it's this weird, especially when the technician was doing it who I never met before. I did all my research on this particular doctor. I didn't do any research about this tech, so when you're on this table and you have this stranger just stabbing the back of your head over and over, it's like you're having this weird out-of-body experience.

Spencer: Well, it's interesting that you said that, not the out-of-body experience thing, but about not being able to do due diligence or your research on the tech. That's not something that people think about and we are making some changes, like I said, and we can't go public with that right now, but we want to make it easier through our resources for patients to be able to do that research. So, if a physician is using technicians to extract grabs, I think it's only fair that they provide information to consumers about who's working in their office and what their training is.

Joe: Yeah.

Jeff: Sure. Absolutely.

Spencer: At the very least, when you're doing your research on a doctor, you're going to go to the website and you're going to see this information.

Jeff: Yeah, definitely thank you for doing that and I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that I think that would make the process a lot more transparent and necessarily transparent too.

Spencer: Well, yeah, and listen. Unfortunately, the process has never been completely transparent, so it's difficult. You have to understand whether it's before and after pictures or videos, everything that you see online is really the best of the best. They're only going to put their best foot forward.

Joe:  Of course.

Jeff: Of course, absolutely. Even if it's a small step closer to a little bit more transparent, it's the better. FUE, it's not a completely new procedure yet, but, in the longterm, it's still pretty much in it's infancy and if you do your research on the doctor and you don't have all the information on the tech who's operating on you ... there's a lot of thoughts I have on it and there's only so much you can say, but I appreciate that it sounds like you, Spencer, and, of course, Joe, understands the issue. Joe's helped me get through it and I can't thank him enough for talking me through everything and simmering down my aggressive stance on it. I appreciate everything that you and the IHRS are doing. 

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The International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons is a consumer organization that selectively screens skilled and ethical hair transplant surgeons. The IAHRS does not offer an open membership policy to doctors practicing hair transplatation, and is the only group that recognizes that all surgeons are not equal in their skill and technique. Its elite membership seeks to represent the best in the discipline, the true leaders in the field of surgical hair restoration.