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Doctors Wanted: Be A Hair Transplant Surgeon, No Ethics or Experience Needed

If you ever wanted to know what's really going on in one of today’s countless, tunkey, pop-up hair transplant practices this TBT undercover tech segment should be enlightening. Before you consider having surgery make sure your surgeon has the proper experience, credentials and is actually taking part in your surgery.

Spencer Kobren:  I have also known, and it still happens to this day. And you can tell me if this is something that you see. For years, there has been rumors that tissue is just thrown out, either because the patient refused to pay for the extra tissue. Say, for instance someone takes out a strip and they were promised or they paid for 2500 grafts, but there's an extra 400 grafts from that strip, and they're like, "Well, what do you want to do? We have 400 grafts. You can either give us your credit card or not, you know? Or we could just end the day." And people don't understand what ending the day means. They don't understand that that tissue's going in the garbage.

Anonymous Tech:  Right.

Spencer Kobren:  Their precious donor area. Now, do you see that happening with FUE and these new practices today?

Anonynous Tech:  Honestly, the practice itself is typically so uninvolved in the FUE, that it's kind of whatever the technicians want. So, I know what my [inaudible 00:01:04] are, and if I count extra grafts, those extra grafts are going in.

Spencer Kobren: Right.

Anonynous Tech: But typically, especially if it's a device, the doctor doesn't really have much say in when we start harvesting and when we stop and how many attempts we do. And so, hopefully we're spot on with what we're shooting for, but if we're over, if I have control over it, and a lot of times I get to work with my own team, those extra grafts are going in. And, on the other hand with FUT, the benefit is typically the physician's not extremely concerned when there's extra tissue, because that extra tissue didn't cost him anything.

Spencer Kobren:  Right.

Anonynous Tech: It's cheap, it's cheap for the physician to get to do FUT, so the tissue's not as, you know, not as valuable to them in that case. I don't know if that's the right use of words.

Spencer Kobren: No, I think ... And that's actually a very, an interesting point, that I think a lot of people miss. I think that, you know, the model, the business model that's out there now with devices, where physicians actually have to pay for attempts, or for grafts. And I know that this isn't just one device, this is the way the device makers are really trying to make this work, is that every piece of tissue, every attempt, whether it's an attempt that is a failure or transected, or an attempt that is a success costs that physician money. So, there is a, you know, incentive, in my view, for physicians to potentially cut corners when they're put in a position where everything they do is costing them money. As opposed to either just buying a device outright, and having complete freedom to utilize that device as they see fit in the patient's best interest. Not essentially partnering, because that's what they're doing with these companies. They are partnering with these companies to try to make a living, and that makes it more difficult for them. 

Spencer Kobren:  And you said something really interesting that, at least in your experience, people who are purchasing some of these devices, the doctors really don't have any say. The people that are running the entire game are the technicians. And at the end of the day, the doctor really doesn't even know how many grafts were placed. The technician, if they want to, can say, "Yeah, we placed all the grafts," and they can just throw them away because they want to go to happy hour.

Anonynous Tech: Right. Yeah, that's exactly how it is. And honestly, for a lot of patients it's ... Not to toot my own horn or to make my team, the girls and men that I work with to do a hair transplant, not to say we're better than anyone else out there, but in a lot of situations it's probably best we're deciding when to start and stop and how many attempts we're doing- 

Spencer Kobren:   Yeah.

Anonynous Tech: versus a physician who has never been in a hair transplant from start to finish. But, it is completely up to the team of technicians in a lot of situations. And that's how these doctors are sold this device, that they don't have to be involved. So when they can find someone who can come in and do everything and take care of everything for them, then the only thing that they have record of is how many attempts they have to pay the device company for. So, they know they're paying for 2400 and one attempt, so that's $2,400, or whatever it may be out of their pocket. They know they're paying that, but, I mean, it's completely up to the technician's discretion how many grafts they say they got out of that, or how much of that they split down because it can ... To make themselves better, technicians can get 1600 grafts out of 2400 attempts and trim those into one, and then it looks like they got 2400 out of 2400.

 

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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.