Tragic news from India where a patient has died the day after going through hair transplant surgery. We look at the case and explore the implications for the industry.
It has become the generic name for a set of surgical techniques which all, in various ways, aim to move living hair follicles from one site, usually the back of the head, to another part of the scalp where the in situ follicles have ceased to produce hair. While they began as relatively primitive, associated with unconvincing outcomes and large scars at the donor site, they have improved significantly since.
Modern techniques have evolved to relocate groups of 4 follicles, which is how they naturally grow, at a time. So the graft incisions have become ever smaller and the density of relocated follicles increased. The current high standard is up around an impressive 50 follicles per square centimetre.
The procedure remains a surgical one. That despite reports from less well-regulated territories where the people performing the surgery are technicians, with a surgeon overseeing many technicians at the same time. In any territory where standards govern practice you should not expect to be asked to have more than 2,500 grafts performed in a single session, with an upper limit at around 3,000. Beyond that and the dangers associated with bleeding increase significantly along with the risk of infection and the possibility of an allergic reaction to either the anaesthetic or the sedative.
An Avoidable Tragedy?
It has been widely reported that a 43-year-old Indian man, Shrawan Kumar Choudhary, owner of a logistics firm, endured a lengthy procedure to transplant at his own insistence to relocate an incredible 9000 grafts. Dermatologist Dr. Vikas Halwai performed the treatment at a private clinic in Mumbai. He said his patient began to have complications, breathing trouble and neck pain, after 3,700 grafts. He was already over 20% beyond the recommended safe limits and not yet halfway through an operation that would last a total of 12 hours.
Mr. Choudhary would succumb to an allergic reaction within 24 hours. So far the police have listed the death as accidental while a probe has been launched to the exact cause. Doctors are apparently predicting the result will be that he died from a severe allergic reaction.
HIS Hair Clinic
This terrible story has no bearing on well-regulated clinics in environments where the statutory controls are in place. It does serve to highlight the importance of due diligence on the part of the patient. With so many travelling abroad to take advantage of ridiculously cheap pricing, some will always fall victim to clinics which favour aggressive marketing and pricing over building a reputation through quality.
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