Seven dodgy practices to watch out for

Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg Daniel Cullen Graft king

Tue Mar 08 2022

  • Maximum grafts’
  • 100% guarantee
  • Charging for painless anesthesia
  • DHI ‘sapphire’
  • Vague promises on doctor involvement
  • Overpriced aftercare vitamins
  • Rate of aftercare follow up

When trying to find a clinic, you are likely to be amazed at how helpful and quick all clinic representatives are to respond to your questions. Fast forward to post-procedure when payment has already been made, and answering your questions isn’t going to result in a difference to a clinic’s bottom line then this all changes. This isn’t to say that many clinics are not genuinely helpful but it is a reality that many might stretch the truth in order to secure your deposit. Below is a list of marketing jargon and impossible promises to look out for

  • Using the phrase ‘maximum grafts’ - you only get one or two shots at a hair transplant. This is because your donor area (the bit at the back of your head) only has a certain number of hairs. Unlike wigs or hair extensions, hair from other people’s heads cannot be used. In short, once your donor runs out then it’s game over. It’s therefore imperative to treat your donor area as the precious finite resource that is. A lot of clinics will say they will take the ‘maximum number of grafts to achieve density’ for a fixed price. While at first glance this seems like a good deal, (whether you need 3,000 or 4,000 grafts on the day you pay the same amount) clinics with this ‘max graft’ attitude can sometimes harvest far more grafts than are actually needed. What you really want is a rough estimate of the exact number of grafts that they estimate will be needed. When you gather a number of graft quotes from clinics you should get a rough ballpark on how many you might need.
  • “100% guarantee”: this should be a major red flag. It is simply impossible and anyone involved in performing hair transplant surgery will know this. If this is advertised, you are likely dealing with a money-hungry, unethical clinic.
  • Charging for painless anesthesia: not only have the actual final results of hair transplants improved over the last 10 years, the physical pain of the procedure has dropped. Whilst still under local anesthesia, most clinics offer a ‘needle free’ anesthetic which is shot with air at high pressure into the head feeling only like an elastic band hitting the head. A far cry from the long needles that would have to first be injected into the scalp, the average experience of pain has gone down a lot. Some clinics, however, offer the painless version at an extra cost. In my opinion this is highly unethical. Charging customers more to experience less pain feels like an upsell too far. Pro tip: if you do end up going to one of these clinics feel free to barter with them. I know of many people who got the pain free anesthesia thrown in for free when the salesmen thought they were going to walk away.
  • “DHI Sapphire” quite regularly there will be a new marketing term cooked up by clinics to explain the newest innovation in the hair transplant world. Generally it makes the promise of more grafts and quicker healing - two things which if true would be excellent. Normally such packages are priced at extra by clinics as a very lucrative up-sell. The truth is, this is entirely marketing spin. Your final result will be determined by the skill of the team working on you. If these increasingly complicated terms had any real effect then they would be of standard use at the world’s most expensive places where people can pay up to $50,000 for a procedure.
  • Vague promises about doctor involvement: if you are set on having a doctor involved in the surgery, make sure they are able to tell you the exact name of the doctor and which stages they will personally handle. Broad statements such as ‘the doctor will supervise’ will likely result in the doctor popping their head in once or twice during the 6+ hours you are on the table. If you want the incisions done by a doctor get them to promise that in writing. If a clinic has more than one doctor get them to say the name of who will be working on you. All of this is too important to leave to chance.
  • Overpriced aftercare vitamins: as this occurs after the surgery, you are only likely to find out once you’ve booked although it may be mentioned in reviews by previous customers. Some clinics are intent on selling supplements with little to no proven benefit to customers after their surgery. So desperate are the guys after travelling around the world paying thousands for a procedure that an extra $100 to maximize their results seems a good deal if anything. The reality is the exact items they will try to sell you (biotin, saw palmetto multivitamins, non-paraben shampoo) are all available on Amazon for perhaps 10% of the extortionate price these clinics charge. To me, this kind of practice just speaks of a clinic overly obsessed with their bottom line at the expense of their integrity, knowing full well the benefits of these vitamins is marginal if anything at all.
  • Rate of aftercare and follow-up: some clinics are notorious for answering any question the same hour before you book, and then never responding after your procedure. The road to your final result is long, and inevitably you will have questions. The last thing you want is to be left out in the cold particularly because it suggests the clinic don’t care as much about their final results as they perhaps say. When shortlisting clinics, look for what people say in reviews regarding the level of aftercare. Everyone is different, some will need more or less reassurance from their clinics after their procedure, but what you don’t want is to not be able to get their advice when you desperately need it.