Finding A Surgeon

Within the realm of hair transplant surgery, making an informed choice is crucial for achieving successful outcomes. Over the past decade the landscape of this specialized field has experienced significant changes, both positive and concerning. As an organization committed to patient education and guidance, we aim to shed light on key considerations when seeking a qualified hair transplant surgeon.


Amidst the vast array of marketing messages across different media channels, patients with hair loss may encounter misleading portrayals of hair transplant surgery. It is important to understand that this is a highly specialized cosmetic surgical procedure, and finding a proficient surgeon is paramount to the overall success and safety of the process.

While advancements like robotic-assisted surgery and follicular unit extraction techniques (FUE) have emerged, their true impact on improving surgical outcomes and patient well-being is still a topic of discussion among renowned hair transplant specialists. Thus, patients need to be well-informed to discern the hype from reality in this fast-growing, multi-billion-dollar hair transplant industry.

In this section, we will provide essential insights into what to look for in a hair transplant surgeon. Understanding the qualities and expertise that define a skilled practitioner will empower patients to make confident and well-considered decisions.

What To Look For In A Hair Transplant Surgeon

To begin your search for a reputable hair transplant surgeon, we recommend contacting the International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons ( This consumer organization selectively screens skilled and ethical hair transplant surgeons, ensuring a higher standard of care. Unlike open membership societies, IAHRS recognizes the variations in skill and technique among surgeons and surgical teams.

When evaluating prospective surgeons, inquire about their experience working with their teams. Larger clinics often experience higher staff turnover rates, making individual practitioners or smaller groups a preferred choice. Recently, with the introduction of turnkey FUE harvesting devices, it’s crucial to know the background and experience of the technicians involved in your hair transplant surgery, as they play a pivotal role in the procedure.

Ensure to carry out the following steps in your quest to find the right hair transplant surgeon:

  1. Request a minimum of 10 sets of before-and-after photos of previous patients, taken at the same angle, background, and lighting. These images should clearly display the hairline and mid-anterior scalp, enabling accurate comparisons between cases. Additionally, inquire about photographs of donor scars (both FUE and FUT) after hair-bearing tissue removal, and confirm if the presented examples are from actual patients of the physician you are consulting with.
  2. Ask for HD video footage of patients before, during, and after the procedure, including comb-throughs. This video documentation provides comprehensive insight into the hair transplant process, allowing you to better understand the surgeon’s techniques and the potential outcomes.
  3. Obtain the names and phone numbers of at least six patients to discuss their experiences with the physician and staff. If possible, speak with two physicians who have previously used the services of the surgeon and their team.
  4. Meet patients with similar hair and skin characteristics to your own. This allows you to witness the results firsthand and evaluate the hair transplant physician’s ability to achieve a realistic and satisfactory outcome for you.
  5. If considering either follicular unit extraction (FUE) or follicular unit hair transplantation (FUT), ask the following questions:


  • Are the grafts microscopically dissected?
  • Do all technicians use stereo-microscopes?
  • How long have technicians been using microscopes for dissecting follicular units?
  • How many stereo-microscopes are used during a procedure?
  • Does the hair transplant doctor use a single-bladed knife to excise the donor strip? (The answer should be “yes.”)


  • Inquire about the number of FUE procedures the physician has performed.
  • Clarify whether the FUE grafts’ dissection is performed by the surgeon or technicians. If technician-driven, ascertain their qualifications and employment status (full-time preferred).
  • Ensure that FUE grafts are examined and refined under a microscope before implantation, as this is critical for a natural result.
  • Check if any complaints have been filed against the hair transplant doctor or group by contacting your state medical board for details.

It is important to note hair transplant surgery is real surgery. While the vast majority of hair transplant clinics offer free, no-obligation online or in-person consultations to attract potential patients, do not be dissuaded to consult with a surgeon who charges a consultation fee. In most cases, the surgical evaluation will be more thorough and performed by a physician, not an unlicensed consultant more concerned with selling you a procedure. If you are a good candidate for surgical intervention, consultation fees are normally deducted from the cost of surgery.

The American Hair Loss Association recognizes that a handful of top hair transplant surgeons offer free consultations in order to compete in this new, commoditized market. However, it is recommended that prospective patients include consultation fees in their surgical budgets so they fully do their due diligence when seeking out the best surgeon for their particular needs. Paying for a consult with a top surgeon is how almost every other medical specialty operates; the same should apply to hair transplant surgery.

Hair Transplant Surgeon Credentials: Understanding the Qualifications

Hair transplant surgery is a sophisticated and elegant subspecialty of cosmetic surgery. However, what many patients might not realize is that becoming a hair transplant surgeon does not necessarily require a surgical residency or specialized postgraduate training. While most people assume that all surgeons have completed accredited surgical residency programs after medical school, the reality is quite different in the realm of hair transplant surgery.

While some board-certified general and plastic surgeons do focus exclusively on hair transplant surgery, such certifications are not mandatory or the norm. In fact, traditional surgical training is not directly relevant to this specialized discipline, as accredited surgical residency programs do not typically offer specific training in hair transplant surgery. Additionally, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Training Education (ACGME) does not recognize fellowship programs for physicians interested in practicing hair transplant surgery, further highlighting the unique nature of this field.

Legally, in the US and some other countries, physicians hold unrestricted licenses to practice medicine, allowing them to perform various medical procedures, including surgery, without specific surgical training, as long as the patient provides consent. However, it’s essential to understand that simply being a licensed physician does not automatically qualify one as a competent hair transplant surgeon.

Within this unique subset of the medical profession, there is a group of elite physicians from various medical specialties, such as family medicine, internal medicine, dermatology, otolaryngology (ENT), emergency medicine, and urology, who have dedicated themselves to mastering the art and science of hair transplant surgery. They undertake independent, intensive postgraduate training, sometimes involving preternships—private internships in experienced hair transplant surgeons’ operating rooms for on-the-job training, lasting for a year or longer. These physicians might also pursue independent courses to enhance their knowledge and skill, preparing them to work alongside seasoned hair transplant surgeons and eventually perform hair transplant surgeries independently.

Prospective patients must have a clear understanding of the true qualifications possessed by each hair transplant surgeon they consider. Although a surgeon’s credentials may appear impressive, it’s crucial to discern exactly what those credentials represent.

Outlined below is an explanation of possible credentials, education, and affiliations that hair transplant surgeons may cite:

Board Certification:

The American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery (ABHRS)

As of now, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) does not have a certification process or an approved medical specialty board for hair transplant surgery. The ABMS consists of 24 approved medical specialty boards, with the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery not being one of them. The ABMS’s intent is to provide the public with assurance that physicians certified by its Member Boards have completed approved training programs and evaluation processes, ensuring quality patient care within a specific specialty. Since the ABHRS is a self-designated board without ACGME residency requirements for hair transplant surgery, it does not meet the ABMS’s standards for ensuring physician competency.

Notably, 11 states in the US have adopted advertising regulations or resolutions stating that only physicians who achieve ABMS or AOA (American Osteopathic Association) certification may use the term “board certified” in their advertising, including all digital media, websites, and signatures.

Physicians claiming to be board-certified in hair transplant surgery or certified by the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery (ABHRS) might not hold traditional certifications, potentially violating state policies. To address this concern, the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery implemented a strict advertising policy, ensuring consumers are not misled by false claims. All ABHRS members must advertise themselves as “Diplomates” of the ABHRS, not as “Board Certified” in hair transplant surgery.

Fellowship Trained:

Most fellowship programs provide minimal training in this field, often serving more as promotional tools for the group or practice providing the “fellowships.” It’s essential to recognize that many groups do not currently teach state-of-the-art hair transplantation techniques.

Although a few surgeons have undergone fellowships/preternships with truly skilled, ethical physicians and practices, this is not a widespread practice.


The American Hair Loss Council

Nonsurgical hair replacement business owners founded this nonprofit trade organization. However, the AHLC’s membership or board position does not signify any professional qualifications specific to hair transplant surgery.

The AHLC’s information provided to the public may be outdated and even potentially hazardous in some cases. Importantly, it is not affiliated with the American Hair Loss Association. To ensure comprehensive research on medical treatment for hair loss, it is advisable to avoid relying on the AHLC.

The International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons

The IAHRS is a consumer organization that carefully screens skilled and ethical hair transplant surgeons. The IAHRS does not offer an open membership policy to doctors practicing hair transplantation, and it stands out as the only group openly recognizing that all surgeons do not possess equal skill and technique. In 2001, the IAHRS became the first hair transplant society to implement a minimal case requirement for membership applications. While no application fee is required, the first criteria in the application process is a 500-minimum case log, ensuring applicants have extensive “time on tissue” and clinical experience.

Being a patient-centric society, the IAHRS seeks to represent the best in the discipline—the true leaders in the field of surgical hair restoration. Its primary goal is to provide prospective patients with a safe platform to research surgeons based on skill, rather than on their ability to influence public opinion through advertising.

It’s important to note that the IAHRS aligns with the AHLA in emphasizing that surgery should be considered a last resort and reserved for individuals who are genuinely the best candidates for this highly refined and sophisticated discipline of cosmetic surgery.

The American Hair Loss Association acknowledges IAHRS membership as an elite credential in the field of hair transplantation.

International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery

The ISHRS is a nonprofit voluntary organization comprising more than 1,000 hair transplant doctors. Its mission includes providing continuing education to physicians specializing in hair transplant surgery, advancing the art and science of hair restoration by licensed physicians whose scope of practice permits hair transplantation, and fostering professionalism and amicable relations among its membership.

Membership in the ISHRS is reserved for physicians (M.D., D.O., or non-U.S. equivalent) of good moral character and standing in the community, with a genuine interest in hair restoration and scalp surgery. However, ISHRS membership alone does not indicate competence in the field and should not be considered a qualifying credential.

The American Hair Loss Association highly values the ISHRS’s contributions to the field of hair transplantation. Nevertheless, it is essential not to confuse its educational efforts with any formal credentialing process.

Fellow of the ISHRS (FISHRS)

According to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, for a member to earn the distinction of a “fellow,” the hair transplant physician must achieve a specific level of points based on various educational parameters. These parameters include volunteering and serving in ISHRS leadership positions, being a Diplomate of the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery (ABHRS), writing scientific papers, and teaching at ISHRS-sanctioned scientific programs. Maintaining this status requires the surgeon to continue meeting the organization’s educational criteria over time. It’s worth noting that the “fellow” distinction was established to recognize ISHRS members who meet its educational criteria, providing them with voting rights and the ability to hold office in the organization. Should hair transplant surgeons choose to include FISHRS in their post-nominal letters or initials, it should be understood that these initials do not represent a specific or advanced academic degree.

IAHRS Accepted Hair Transplant Surgeons

Within the realm of hair transplant surgery, making an informed choice is crucial for achieving successful outcomes.