Technician FUE Surgery or MD?
Should you have technician FUE surgery or FUE surgery performed mainly by a doctor? Techniciancentric hair transplant surgery has seen an explosion in the past five years due to the growth of FUE as a hair transplant procedure. What is "techniciancentric" FUE? It is FUE surgery performed mainly by technicians will little, and in many cases, NO involvement from a doctor. Technician FUE surgery has seen this growth because of what I have described many times before as a low threshold of entry into the field of hair transplant surgery due to the low cost of equipment and the minimal requirements for manpower.
With traditional FUSS (strip surgery) the requirements to open a clinic are formidable. A hair transplant doctor has to have some sort of surgical experience to be able to perform the surgery due to the invasive nature of the technique. If performed incorrectly the patient could be at serious risk. The strip has to be safely removed and the doctor has to understand how to suture or staple a wound so that the resulting scar is acceptable. Microscopes must be purchased and multiple technicians must be hired and trained to use these microscopes for the multiple steps necessary to harvest and refine follicular units. At least two of these technicians must also be proficient with placement. A facility that can house these technicians and office staff must also be secured. Even the simple description sounds daunting.
With technician FUE surgery it can be as simple as renting a room at an existing plastic surgery or dermatologist office and splitting the profits. One technician can be hired to do an entire procedure and they can learn how to perform the procedure during a weekend course. Some companies that make FUE machines also provide technicians on contract that will fly to your clinic whenever you have surgeries scheduled so you do not even need to hire your own technicians. A doctor might discuss the surgery with you and maybe even draw a hairline for the technicians to consider but that could be the last time you see the doctor until the procedure is finished. This is more of an extreme example of the simplicity of technician FUE surgery and what is actually required but it is fairly common, more so than most people realize.
In late September 2016 I was in Las Vegas, Nevada for the 24th Annual ISHRS World Conference. It's the biggest meeting of the year with potentially up to 1200 doctors attending from around the world. I ran into my friend Dr. David Josephitis from Shapiro Medical Group and he was kind enough to give me a few minutes on camera. He explained his feelings on technician FUE surgery and why he feels that doctors should be the ones that perform the majority of an FUE surgery.