One of the things I see most often on the hair transplant discussion forums is a patient of a clinic that has already had surgery come onto a forum and ask for hair transplant advice about how to take care of their scalp after surgery. It never fails. This happens at least once a week on all of the forums and it points to a potential problem for both parties involved.
Hair Transplant Advice
One of the challenges that patients face when they have a hair transplant surgery is poor follow-up by the clinic. Too many times a patient will get the royal treatment leading up to and during surgery but once they have walked out the door they're lucky to get any proactive hair transplant advice from the clinic. There are a few hair transplant clinics that have strong follow up and patient care but most do not. Many patients know what I'm talking about. The moment they first call or email a clinic to ask questions or to seek a hair transplant consultation they are tagged as a potential client. Many clinics have full fledged sales departments that add your name and contact information to a database and they track every single correspondence you have with them. Most of this correspondence will be initiated by the clinic after the initial contact is made by the patient. "Where are you in the decision making process?". "What questions do you still have that I can answer for you?". This is their idea of hair transplant guidance or hair transplant advice. These are but some of the calls a patient will get and they are made to feel very important and wanted. Surgery day is no different. Every need is tended to and the patient feels like a king (or queen) for the day. Once surgery is complete and the post-op care package is given and instructions are explained on how to care for the grafted recipient site the patient is shown the door and the next time the patient hears from the clinic is nine to twelve months later. "Hi, we are wondering how you are doing and want to know how happy you are with the results. Btw, can you send some high quality photos for our gallery?". In other words, you don't hear from the clinic till they need something from you which is usually photos of your result that they can use for their marketing department.
Because patients rarely hear from their clinic after they have hair transplant surgery they are often left to follow the after care instructions given to them without support so their hair transplant advice is pretty much non-existent. Now, I know we're all adults here and we're supposed to ask specific questions and follow instructions carefully but most of the time we just look for the easy and comfortable route. That is just human nature but when it comes to hair transplant advice you'd think people would have a bit more common sense. This is when I see people going to the forums to ask questions about how to take care of their hair transplant. On the surface this seems like a fairly straight forward and simple affair. The questions have been as such;
- What can I do to make the scabs go away faster?
- What "tricks" do you guys recommend to improve scar healing?
- How can I make the redness disappear?
- Can I put anything on my grafts to make them grow better, faster or stronger?
These are simple questions that are asked every day by patients around the world. They are questions that SHOULD be asked (among others) and patients indeed should be aware of the answers. However, patients should not go to forums for hair transplant advice after they've already had surgery. "But Joe, hair transplant forums are a great source of information and helpful hair transplant advice". Actually, they are not. The hair transplant forums are rife with multiple reasons NOT to ask such questions. They are full of trolls, know-it-alls and parrots.
- Trolls - These are posters that have one goal and one goal only. To cause problems for doctors and the patients that choose them. This is due to the troll being a super fan of one doctor, or a small group of preferred doctors, or they are die hard fans of one procedure vs. another and will hammer anyone that disagrees with them for the sake of being right. I've actually seen patients seeking post-op hair transplant advice given false information by trolls only to cause problems for the operating clinic!
- Know-it-alls. These guys are dangerous. They often speak in riddles expecting the reader to figure out what is being said, which is usually useless. What happens if someone makes a mistake trying to decipher the hair transplant advice given in riddles? On some level they think they are helping and they may actually do some good for some patients but they tend to build up their own theories on how the hair transplant industry works based on conjecture and hearsay. This is also where sometimes I think know-it-alls are not much different than the doctors they malign simply because they can and are sometimes driven by their own ego. They will say whatever they can in online debates just to appear as if they "won". This is ridiculous and juvenile especially considering that they are anonymous so who are they impressing? When someone says online that they think that what they have to say should be heard by as many people as possible, you've got a big ego on your hands. One thing I've learned in life is that there is always two sides to every story and in the hair transplant world one man's hair transplant scandal can be another man's sour grapes. In other words, there can be motivation for some people on forums that is not based entirely on truth. I know, it's a shocking revelation. One know-it-all I know of likes to talk about the high morals and ethics of doctors he has never met. He recently discussed how if he were ever a hair transplant surgeon he would conduct himself the same way as one of the doctors he places on a pedestal. The problem is that he does not realize (I hope) that this doctor is a drug addict and was disciplined for writing prescriptions for pain killers that would never make it into the hands of his patients. If this guy wants to be like this doctor then I'll pass on his services, thank you very much.
- Parrots - These are the posters that say "I've heard good things about Dr. So & So" but they've never actually been to, spoken to, or had any experience whatsoever with that particular doctor or his patients. They tend to repeat sound bites of what they hear or read by others and this is how myth can be turned into fact without actually being a fact. This is what I call the transition of reality based on perception. If enough people repeat something it becomes truth. This is sometimes reinforced by the know-it-alls and their quest to sound authoritative.
In other words, these people above, whom take up a lot of the space on many of the hair transplant forums, are the last people one should seek post-surgical advice from. Don't misunderstand. There are a lot of caring and knowledgeable people on the hair transplant forums and they can and do provide legitimate hair transplant advice but the point is that it is difficult for the layman to distinguish who is and is not correct and accurate, much less sincere, in their help. It is my opinion that one should not and cannot rely on such a mine field of potential disaster.
Hair transplant advice before surgery should come from multiple resources. Hair transplant patient testimonials and personal one on one discussion with former patients is a great resource of hair transplant advice. Speaking to multiple hair transplant clinics and hair transplant doctors is another resource and one should make notes about each clinic, what is said, and what the pros and cons of each option available. Online forums can be a great resource of hair transplant advice before surgery but it is the least reliable and potentially the most dangerous source for the very reasons I've listed above. However, when it comes to hair transplant advice after hair transplant surgery there is one place a patient should go and that is the clinic that actually performed the hair transplant. They know the patient, they know the case, they know the dynamics and the details of the case. The hair transplant clinics are the ones that SHOULD be proactively telling the patient not only what to do but when to do it. There should be no lapse in this portion of the patient care yet unfortunately it is what should be expected. The sad thing is that to actually be proactive in this regard and to actually remind patients what, when and why certain post-operative care instructions should be initiated is considered above average care when it should be considered NORMAL patient care. Such is the world we live in but if a patient ever is in need of hair transplant advice regarding the procedure that they have already had they should take the initiative, pick up the phone and call the clinic to ask.