Every day many people call our office with one single question: how much do you charge per graft? To a serious, dedicated hair restoration surgery practice, this is simply an impossible question to answer. This is due to the complexity of a hair restoration procedure, and the inherent variability of the intrinsic physical and physiological factors of each individual patient. While I am very aware that many practices in this field, both corporate and private, charge “by-the-graft,” I feel this makes as much sense as charging “by the valve” when performing valve replacement surgery on a patient’s heart, or charging “by the cc” when performing a breast enhancement procedure.
Make no mistake: charging hair restoration patients “by-the-graft” is the invention of the business man, not the physician.
For example, when considering a rhinoplasty (e.g.: nose job), a patient will most often interview one or more surgeons to find the one they feel the most comfortable with, as the public recognizes that nasal surgery is difficult and the results are often permanent. Frequently in choosing a surgeon for rhinoplasty, a patient will strongly consider the surgeon’s training, experience, and how often the surgeon performs the procedure. After selecting the surgeon and meeting with him or her to discuss their wishes, and after the surgeon assesses the complexity of the proposed nasal surgery, a patient will typically receive a statement with “surgery fees” and “anesthesia/facility fees.” Note that plastic surgeons who perform rhinoplasty surgery do NOT charge by the length of nose, they charge by the complexity of surgery. Most patients do not see a billboard saying “Season Special $1,000 per nostril rhinoplasty, minimum 2 nostrils, at Nose Jobs R Us.” One simply cannot respond to a billboard ad and feel good about nasal surgery results.
Hair restoration is no different than any other permanent facial plastic surgical procedure, such as rhinoplasty or a facelift. Like a rhinoplasty, the procedure is difficult to perform when done well, and the results are permanent. The results are directly dependent on the skill, training, and experience of the surgeon, and the quality, experience, and talent of the technicians who will work with the hair follicles. I deeply respect hair restoration for what it is: a highly-complex surgical procedure involving not just myself, but my experienced team of full-time surgical technicians that brings unbelievable joy to men and women who suffer from hair loss. It is NOT a “plug-and-play” product that is the same anywhere you go as long as the “graft number” remains constant. This makes as much sense as saying every single automobile in the world is exactly the same provided they all have “4 tires.” In hair restoration, there are hundreds of subtleties and nuances that vary from person to person. It is a procedure that brings my patients a great deal of happiness; it restores their confidence, sense of youth and well-being. It is a procedure that simply cannot be boiled down to a “per-the-graft” pricing.
The bottom line is that getting the patient involved in the details of the surgery, and negotiating the number of hairs to be surgically relocated, is really just to distract you from the more important things that some medical practices would rather you not think about, such as the experience, background, and training of the ACTUAL surgeon who will be doing your hair restoration surgery.
Dr. Pramit Malholtra of Ann Arbor, Michigan warns “Rhinoplasty is a procedure not to pick on price.” I strongly feel the same way about hair restoration; a permanent procedure that can be done in hundreds of different ways, by physicians and surgeons of widely varying backgrounds, from internal medicine to dermatology to anesthesiology. Remember that all types of physicians, even those without any ABMS-recognized board certificate or formal surgery training at all, may call themselves hair restoration “surgeons” in the USA.
– Dr. Ken Anderson, M.D.