THERE’S a growing ‘black market underworld’ of illegal hair transplant surgery - and UK patients are being left scarred and injured because of dodgy treatment.
That’s the startling new warning from leading British hair transplant surgeon Dr Bessam Farjo, founder of The Farjo Hair Institute.
It also comes amid a huge surge of interest in hair transplant procedures thanks to recent speculation regarding former footballer David Beckham’s own hairline.
Dr Farjo, who has clinics in Manchester and London, has put his weight behind a shock a new international campaign to raise awareness of what he says is an ‘expanding’ problem.
And he adds patients who fall foul - many of them who travel abroad for cut-price deals in clinics staffed by non-doctors - are being left permanently disfigured.
The ‘Beware of the Hair Transplant Black Market’ task force has been launched this week by the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS), of which Dr Farjo is a member and past president.
He says: "This isn’t about saying all medical tourism is bad - far from it.
“There are many clinics around the world operating within the full scope of that country’s regulations and importantly, where the long-term patient care is paramount.
“The ISHRS supports more than a thousand doctor members in around 70 countries across the globe.
“However, we also know that there are hair transplant clinics out there staffed by ‘practitioners’ who do not have the requisite training, skill or expertise to carry out successful hair transplant procedures and appreciate the medium and long term issues facing the hair loss patient.
“And we then subsequently see their patients at our own clinics, when they’re desperate for horrendous mistakes to be rectified.
"A properly executed hair transplant can transform a patients life. But a poor hair transplant can look unnatural, create awful scarring or simply not work at all."
Dr Bessam Farjo
“A properly executed hair transplant can transform the patient’s life, whether that’s to combat male pattern baldness, for example, or to help a female with alopecia.
“But a poor hair transplant - which can look unnatural, create awful scarring or simply not work at all - will not only leave a patient out of pocket but will potentially permanently deprive them of the hair they desire, and have an enormous impact on their confidence, psychological well-being and self-esteem.”
A good hair transplant surgery op typically costs around £7,000.
They’ve been popularised by celebs like Wayne Rooney, Calum Best, James Nesbitt and X Factor’s Jake Quickenden, and see hair transplanted from a donor area to a bald patch in order to rectify a hairline.
But procedures can be sourced for as little as £620 from some clinics, with many black market operators located in Turkey.
In the UK, any clinic offering a hair transplant surgery must register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and agree to be inspected by specialist advisors.
Additionally, doctors must abide by strict ethical guidelines set by the General Medical Council, and be backed by recognised liability insurers.
Similar arrangements are in place in many countries across the world.
But the ISHRS says some are simply flouting the rules.
A spokesman added: "The rogue clinics and hospitals that facilitate illegal or unethical practices have created an expanding black market hair transplant underworld of sorts.
“Surgeries are performed by non-doctors with little or no training, are causing irreparable harm.
“Patients around the world are suffering from the unethical and often unlawful actions of these clinics, which could significantly impair the entire hair transplant field."
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