Dangers of having a hair transplant abroad

You may well have seen the pitch-side ads for Turkish transplants since football returned to our screens following lockdown.

It might be tempting to think that jetting off to the sun for a week while sorting out your hair at the same time is a good idea.

But do think hard before making such a decision – because it is one that you might regret for years.

The British hair transplant industry is one of the most heavily regulated healthcare businesses in the world.

Each clinic needs to pass a regular and rigorous test by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

If there are any failings in standards, the CQC has the power to shut down the clinic immediately.

Privately run clinics such as Crown Clinic are run by highly experienced consultant surgeons.

Our own Doctor Asim Shahmalak was an experienced general surgeon with the NHS before switching to private hair transplantation practice in 2007.

He has been at the top of his game for the last 13 years and as recently as January this year he was honoured by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his humanitarian work in Pakistan.

Around a fifth of the cases Dr Shahmalak takes on involve patients who have had previous hair transplant surgery in countries like Turkey and were disappointed with the results.

Some require urgent repair work – to a wonky hairline or because the redistribution of grafts have been handled badly – while others didn't get the 'miracle cure' they were promised.

If you are unhappy with your transplant in the UK, there are clear actions you can take.

For a start, your surgeon is on your doorstep so you can go straight to the clinic and demand any issues are rectified.

You can take up your complaint with the regulatory authorities who have the power to shut down the clinic.

And there is always the albeit expensive option of seeking compensation through the courts, though if your case is strong there are lawyers who will take on a case on a no-win-no-fee basis.

Thankfully court cases in the UK involving hair transplant clinics are incredibly rare.

Most of the clinics here are doctor run and offer an excellent services. Here are five things you should look for when choosing where to go for your hair transplant.

1 A good surgeon – this is the key to the whole process. The skill in a hair transplant is in the removal and redistribution of the donor hair. The surgeon shows their skill in how they weave the donor grafts into the existing hairline – creating a fuller but entirely natural look. Dr Shahmalak is a master of this skill which is why he has been so successful.

2 Look for clinics which are doctor-lead – be wary of any clinic where you don't meet the surgeon at your very first appointment. Many clinics are run by sales people with no medical expertise. They are more interested in getting your money than your clinical well-being.

3 Testimonials – all good surgeons will have dozens of previous patients who can vouch for their effectiveness. Study the testimonial page on their website and, if need be, see if you can be put in touch with former patients to hear their stories.

4 State-of-the-art facilities – at Crown Clinic, we have one of the best equipped hair transplant clinics in the world, less than a mile from Manchester Airport. Visit the clinic before your transplant and make sure you are comfortable in the environment.

5 Look at who the doctor has treated before – Dr Shahmalak's previous patients include TV doctor Christian Jessen of Embarrassing Bodies fame. He has had two FUT (follicular unit transplantation) procedures at Crown Clinic. He went to Dr Shahmalak after the pair worked together on a patient who appeared on Embarrassing Bodies after having botched hair transplant surgery abroad. Dr Jessen chose Dr Shahmalak because he is the 'doctors' doctor.'