"I arrived at the clinic at 8.30 am as arranged. They were closed. I sat in my car in the parking lot until 10 am when they finally arrived and opened up. One of the staff made some mumbled excuse for their being late and I was ushered to a room where I waited another half-hour before I was led to the operating room. I wasn't even offered a cup of tea for my trouble.
Two nurses performed my surgery. It was only towards the end of the procedure that the Doctor appeared. He looked me over, had a few words with the nurses and then went. During the operation one of the nurses asked me how much I had paid their representative for the surgery. I told her and she questioned why I hadn't bothered to 'barter' with their representative to get the price down. I had obviously paid 'through the nose'.
Within a few days of surgery I developed an infection. A large puss-filled lump appeared in the front of my head. I called the clinic and they told me to "pop it with a needle", not surprisingly I was absolutely dumbfounded. My own doctor prescribed a course of antibiotics and the infections eventually cleared. I have since discovered that the local health authority had closed down one of the operating rooms they used for 'liposuction'.
Apparently a couple of ladies had developed serious infections after the operations and complained to the authorities. The story was well covered in the local press. The results of my operation were abysmal. Many of the grafts failed to grow and I am now left with the remnants of the failed surgery in full view since losing further hair. I thought this sort of practice disappeared in the Middle Ages."
This was part of a letter I received from a "victim" of unscrupulous practice. It isn't the first and in a country where with your neighbour's consent, you can legally perform surgery on him (without even a qualification to your name), but not on his dog. It
certainly won't be the last. It is no wonder that we have more than our fair share of "Cowboy Operators". We also have a highly sensationalist press who take great pleasure in dragging up the worst cases of abuse and presenting them to the
public as an everyday occurrence. So rife was the run on hair transplantation clinics at one time. A national newspaper with the highest circulation (5 million) actually advertised for "victims" of Hair Transplantation malpractice to contact them with their "horror stories". They then published an expose a month later featuring the worst cases. As it transpired, the best they could do was feature cases of 'botched' plug surgery dating back to 15 years ago. The most recent was 5 years ago. Nevertheless, the damage was done.
Consequently, since the time the British "tabloid press" first latched onto the Hair Transplant Industry, we have endured bad press at regular intervals. It must have been some 20 years ago when the first expose appeared. It concerned the hair transplantation Doctor who left his patient alone in the theatre while he "test-drove" his new car. The good Doctor returned to find his patient on the surgery floor, having fainted through loss of blood.
More recently, those amongst us who really care about our industry, are unaware of flashes of light at the end of a very long tunnel. If the changes continue the "tabloid press" will have lost a "filler" for whenever there is a shortage of gossip. It would appear that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have finally begun to clamp down on the activities of some of the more outrageous of our brethren. The Authority would appear to have developed teeth. In fact, for a part of last year I was convinced that they had them firmly attached to my left buttock.
For about eight months, the ASA and I was almost inseparable. Their envelope with its "now familiar" logo on the front, (a red box with a "tick of approval" in the middle) would arrive with the latest judgements from their monthly "committee meeting". They were pretty happy with most of my advertising content but not about one line in particular. It read "25 years presenting some of the world's finest Hair Transplant Surgeons". This is perfectly true and I have provided the references to prove it. The ASA simply wouldn't have it. In the end, I was adamant about the issue. I was even prepared to go as far as the courts to "fight my corner".
What made it worse was the adjoining advert to my own, in a national men's magazine, was making a complete mockery of the advertising codes and getting away with it. Their marketing man was using "before" and "after" photographs "nicked" from another surgeon as an example of his Doctors' work. He was claiming "Gold Award" winning surgery for his clinic when the "Gold Award" winning surgery belonged to the surgeon whose photos he had "acquired". His claim of having "advised 100,000's of hair loss sufferers" was fiction and he implied in the way he "slanted" his advertising that he (the salesman) was a member of the ISHRS. In all, there were seen separate claims that were either misleading or an outright attempt to "take the piss" out of the rest of the industry. At worst, he was the proverbial "accident waiting to happen". The media's next"scoop" and another three months of reduced-advertising inquiries. And here am I getting "grief" over my claim, based on facts.
I was so angry I was, as my dad (God rest him) used to say, "spitting feathers". I began to feel paranoia coming on. I was being "victimized". My last communication with the ASA was outrageous. I didn't even edit it. I simply didn't want to remind myself of it contents, it was that bad. All I can bring to mind was one small part of the document. It posed the question, "How can a body of nameless individuals, with such little knowledge of my industry, other than what they read in the press 'sit in judgement' at their monthly committee and 'rewrite' my bloody life history for me?". Not the best way to influence people.
And then it happened. I got a phone call from a close friend telling me to get a copy of that day's Times, one of the more believable papers. There it was two pages across, of the latest abuse. Only this time it wasn't Hair Transplant Surgery. It was cosmetic surgery. But more significantly (and to me, more importantly), it outlined some of the more overall "controls" that have now been imposed on the industry as a whole, with regard to future advertising.
Fantastic! Unbelievable! Cancel the Prozac! I screamed inwardly. It wasn't me they were after, it was everybody! I just happened to get caught up in the overall "swing of things". In an instant my anger disappeared, my paranoia close behind. I even felt a warm glow in the pit of my stomach toward the ASA.
Added to that, the offending clinic I mentioned was forced to change its advertising. I was so delighted I immediately changed the offending line of my advert to "25 years of counselling on behalf of some of the leading exponents of Hair Transplant Surgery".
That was six months ago and all is calm. The good news is that I no longer live in fear of some "investigative journalist" penning yet another expose about my industry.