A growing trend of medical assistants performing hair transplant surgery has caused the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS), a not-for-profit medical association focused on medical and surgical outcomes excellence in the field of hair restoration, to issue a position statement on recommended qualifications for scalp surgery. Dr. Yazdan, who is also a member of the ISHRS, has grown concerned about the increasing number of unqualified professionals performing hair transplantation on patients.
“Thanks to new technology and improved hair transplantation techniques, hair restoration is much less surgically invasive than it used to be,” said Dr. Yazdan. “With recent developments of robotic and automated hair transplant systems some medical practices and spas have adopted these devices and delegated the surgery to non-medical personnel. Some of these hair transplantation techniques are less invasive for the patient and therefore some practices don’t classify it as surgery. I believe this to be false and a very dangerous practice and I’m so glad the ISHRS has issued this statement of qualifications for scalp surgery to spell out exactly what the organization constitutes as surgery.”
The ISHRS has taken the position that any procedure involving a skin incision for the purpose of tissue removal from the scalp or body, or to prepare the scalp or body to receive tissue, (e.g., incising the FUE graft, excising the donor strip, creating recipient sites) by any means, including robotics, is a surgical procedure. A properly trained and licensed physician must perform such procedures. Physicians who perform hair restoration surgery must possess the education, training, and current competency in the field of hair restoration surgery. It is beyond the scope of practice for non-licensed personnel to perform surgery. Surgery performed by non-licensed medical personnel may be considered practicing medicine without a license under applicable law. The Society supports the scope of practice of medicine as defined by a physician’s state, country or local legally governing board of medicine. In the state of California, it is against the law to practice medicine without the proper licensure.
When an individual without proper licensure or specialized training performs a hair transplant, the patient’s safety is at risk, as well as the outcome of the hair transplant. There is also a possibility that the unlicensed technician may not be covered by malpractice insurance. A licensed practitioner with a specialty in hair restoration has the specialized training to handle all facets of a hair transplantation procedure.
“It’s very important for patients to do their homework when considering hair transplantation,” said Dr. Yazdan. “One of the questions they need to ask is if the doctor will be performing all aspects of the hair transplantation. The doctor shouldn’t just be in the office – he or she should be handling the procedure from start to finish.”