Can a cheap hair transplant be a good hair transplant?
A cheap hair transplant can sound very appealing - especially if it comes with an overseas trip. Local clinics may also offer apparently inexpensive hair restoration. But before you make the leap, let's look at what makes this rumoured cheap option so cheap.
Why hair transplant tourism appears cheap?
In the search for a cheap transplant, heading overseas to Asia or the Middle East might be tempting. The cost per follicle can be attractive thanks to exchange rates and labour costs, even when you add airfares. However, beware. Here are some quick questions to consider about this option. (These questions can also be considered in relation to Australian clinics).
- Are there safety and anti-infection protocols operating in the overseas clinic? What are these clinical standards or accreditation for the facility where the surgery will be performed? Are these readily available?
- Who will perform the transplant? Will it be a clinical assistant or technician, neither of whom have full training, or will it be a hair transplant surgeon who is fully qualified to carry out the procedure? If there is a language barrier, could this complicate or cause confusion on either side of this medical interaction?
- What post-surgery follow-up or aftercare does the overseas clinic offer? What happens if you get an infection or have questions when you return to Australia? If something goes wrong, what recourse will you have? Will travel insurance cover unforeseen circumstances?
- Will the clinic you choose have your best interest in mind, or are they more focused on getting a large number of patients through the clinic?
What else affects hair transplantation costs?
The method of hair restoration may affect costs
FUE (follicular unit extraction) is one of the most time-intensive hair transplantation methods as it involves the extraction of hair follicles one-by-one. The FUT (follicular unit transplantation or strip surgery) is a somewhat shorter method, where a long strip of hair follicles is cut from the back of the head. However, the trade-off for this faster and often lower-cost technique include a prominent long scar to the back of the scalp, among other drawbacks. Let's compare.
Differences between FUE and FUT
- FUE is less surgically invasive than FUT. FUE extracts follicles one-by-one, FUT uses a scalpel to cut long a strip(s) from the back of the scalp.
- FUE scars are small dots and largely undetectable. FUT leaves a long linear scar. Wearing hair short at the back can reveal the scar.
- Recovery from FUE surgery is often faster than for FUT, owing to the lack of a large incision and no stitches or staples.
- FUE maximises donor hair for harvesting. FUT limits the number of follicles to only what can be collected from 1-2 strips from the back of the scalp.
- FUT can lead to nerve damage, numbness, and long-term pain.
Who performs the procedure may affect costs
This is a key point. Some clinics have technicians carry out the bulk of the hair transplantation to keep costs low. The surgeon may only be present for part of the procedure, whereas they ought to be present for the entire procedure to ensure the best outcome for the patient. Using technicians instead can put the quality of the transplant at risk and increase the possibility of transections, severing the follicle, rendering it useless to implant. Technicians are very important to the process as they provide assistance to the surgeon, however, hair transplant surgeons must carry out the procedure itself to give the best success rates.
The experience of the surgeon and clinic may affect cost
If the clinic or the doctors performing the procedure have not been in operation for long, their inexperience may lead them to offer a lower-cost technique to get patients through the door. It is important to be confident in the qualifications and experience of your hair surgeon.
Length of procedure and number of follicles may affect costs
If you are deciding between two clinics, make sure you're comparing the same method. If it's a shorter procedure, perhaps you're comparing FUT with FUE. One clinic may recommend a different number of follicles, which affects the length of the procedure and costs all around for the clinic. Make sure you know what you're being quoted.
So, can a cheap hair transplant be good, or perhaps we should say, can a good hair transplant be cheap? If you understand all the issues that inform the price you're paying, you may find, especially concerning health and wellbeing, seeking the cheapest price might not be the right option for you.
- There are many differences between FUE and FUT hair transplant surgery that may explain a large variance in cost.
- Heading overseas for hair restoration surgery may appear cheaper however this can be because of different clinical protocols, clinics prioritising quantity of patients over quality, utilising technicians instead of hair transplant surgeons, etc.
- Whether it is a hair transplant surgeon vs. a technician performing the procedure may affect costs.
- The experience of the surgeon and clinic may affect cost.
- The length of the procedure, informed by the number of follicles to be transplanted and method of transplant (FUE vs. FUT), may affect the overall cost.
- Choose a clinic that will put your interests first and where you can be assured of the quality of care, rather than selecting a clinic based on price.
- To find out more book an appointment with hair transplant surgeon Dr Peter Paraskevas.