While the credentials presented by a hair transplant surgeon might seem impressive, it is important to fully understand exactly what these credentials represent. Below you will find a list of possible credentials presented in the field of surgical hair restoration followed by a detailed explanation.
Certified: The American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery.
Diplomat, American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery
Currently hair transplant surgery or surgical hair restoration has no approved medical specialty board sanctioned by The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).
The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) is an organization of 24 approved medical specialty boards of which The American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery is not a part of. The intent of the certification of physicians is to provide assurance to the public that those certified by an ABMS Member Board have successfully completed an approved training program and an evaluation process assessing their ability to provide quality patient care in the specialty.
Currently there is no actual certification process for the field of surgical hair restoration governed by the ABMS. If a physician claims to be "Board Certified" in surgical hair restoration or "Certified" by The American Board of Hair Restoration Surgeons (ABHRS), he is NOT actually board certified in this field.
While The American Hair Loss Association recognizes that The American Board of Hair Restoration Surgeons does administer a written exam to their members, The AHLA's position on claiming board certification, when the ABHRS is not yet recognized by the ABMS is that this type of "promotion" is misleading to the public.
Hair Transplantation Fellowship, XYZ Hair Restoration Group, Orlando Florida.
The education provided by most fellowship programs in this field is minimal at best. It is important to note that most fellowship programs in this field are used for promotional purposes for the group or practice that is providing the "fellowship." Also know that most groups who offer fellowship programs are not currently teaching state of the art hair transplantation techniques.
The American Hair Loss Association recognizes that there are a very small handful of surgeons who underwent fellowships with truly skilled and ethical physicians and practices. However this is not commonplace in this field.
International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery.
The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) is a non-profit voluntary organization of over 700 hair transplant doctors. The ISHRS provides continuing education to physicians specializing in hair transplant surgery.
Membership in the ISHRS does not constitute competence in the field and should not be looked at as a qualifying credential. Currently there are no set standards for admittance into the ISHRS, therefore any doctor performing hair transplantation can become an "active" member of this strictly educational organization.
The American Hair Loss Association acknowledges the tremendous value of the ISHRS in the field of hair transplantation, however, their educational efforts should not be confused with any kind of credentialing possess
American Society of Hair Restoration Surgeons
The American Society of Hair Restoration Surgeons (ASHRS) is another educational organization created by physicians to further the field.
According to their own member application, it clearly states "membership in the American Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ASHRS) does not qualify a physician as being certified to practice hair restoration surgery and that membership alone in said society is for educational purposes only.
World Hair Society
Unfortunately, there is very little known about The Word Hair Society. This organization has not appeared to contribute much to the field, however it is found as a credential on many physicians' Curriculum Vitae.
The American Hair Loss Council
The American Hair Loss Council is a non-profit organization founded by non-surgical hair replacement business owners. The hair loss consumer should not look to The AHLC as an educational resource. Membership or being on the board constituents no professional qualifications in this field.
The information provided to the public by the American Hair Loss Council is remarkably outdated and can be dangerous if followed in some instances.
The American Hair Loss Association is NOT affiliated with The American Hair Loss Council and recommends avoiding the Council when researching medical treatment for hair loss.
The International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons (IAHRS)
The International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons is a consumer organization that selectively screens skilled and ethical hair transplant surgeons. The IAHRS does not offer an open membership policy to doctors practicing hair transplantation, and is the only group that recognizes that all surgeons are not equal in their skill and technique. Its elite membership seeks to represent the best in the discipline, the true leaders in the field of surgical hair restoration. The IAHRS' goal is to provide a safe place for prospective patients to choose a surgeon based on skill and not on their ability to buy public opinion through advertising.
The American Hair Loss Association recognizes IAHRS membership as an elite credential in this field.
Reviewed by Paul J. McAndrews, MD