1. Anyone who asks for full payment or a large deposit upfront!
To book my treatment abroad I arranged a date with the clinic and then booked my flights. All the clinic needed to confirm the date was confirmation of the flights. I did not need to pay any money upfront at all, no deposit, zero upfront! I would have been happy to pay a very small deposit, say £100, but the fact that the clinic didn’t want a large deposit made me confident in the quality and authenticity of the clinic.
During my research I got quotes from a few places in the UK and abroad. I came across a few places that wanted large or full payments upfront, which was worrying to hear. So on further investigation I found them all to be scams. The scams I came across were all UK based and the things they had in common were:
- A low price – too good to be true!
- A large discount if you act now
- A pushy salesperson forcing you to act now to secure the price or appointment date
- No or little presence on the web – a generic or landing page style website, but no reviews other websites or on any of the popular review sites
- Immediate availability – pay today come see us tomorrow
So if you come across any of these points you should look at other options. Don’t be forced in to a decision. There are plenty of good quality clinics to choose from. It is well worth taking your time and doing your research. A good clinic will be busy so you will most likely have to book a few months in advance. Not show up tomorrow!
2. A price that is really low, way below the average for that country – too good to be true!
Know your average prices! Look around at different review websites. Search for clinics online and check out their pricing page. Give yourself an idea of what you might pay in a certain area. For example I paid £2000 for 1000 grafts in Budapest, which was competitive for that country. The same procedure in Turkey was between £1500 and £1750. And in Poland it was around £3000. In the UK the lowest quote I got was £7000, the highest around £12000. Know your chosen countries average and if you get a quote that is way under this average then be very weary and go hunting for reviews for that clinic. I came across scams in the UK where the quote was £1500, or £2000 for 1000 grafts. This is alarming low compared to my lowest UK quote of £7000. If it sounds too good to be true then it most likely is!
You should also get some quotes and get an understanding for how many grafts you would need. I understood from my research that I would need roughly 1000 grafts. If a quote comes back that suggests half or double what you are expecting, then be weary and make sure you search for reviews for that clinic.
3. A huge discount for booking now!
A good clinic will be in demand. They will possibly be fully booked for the next 6 months. This is a good sign. It shows that people want to go there and are happy to wait. You may be offered a cancellation, this is normal. You may also be offered a small discount for certain reasons or be able to negotiate a price reduction, again this is fairly normal. I was offered a small discount for paying in cash. This is not all that uncommon abroad because foreign businesses often keep the cash and wait for optimal exchange rates before cashing it in for their local currency. What you want to look out for is a huge reduction, particularly if the reason is to apply pressure on you to book now, and to pay something upfront. A good clinic will be in demand, won’t require payment upfront, and will have competitive prices so will not move a huge amount on price. That said if you are a canny negotiator feel free to try your luck negotiating on price, just be weary of huge reductions, particularly if the clinic brings it up – you can, why would they though?
4. Over-promising on the final result!
You won’t ever achieve the fullness and density of your youth. You can expect a good result, a great result even. You can achieve a full head of hair and a renewed hairline – depending on how much hair you have lost and how many grafts you want to pay for. But the thickness in the transplanted area won’t be completely the same as your non-transplanted hair. It will be close, and the average person won’t see the difference at all. People are shocked when I tell them about my hair transplant. They cannot tell that I have had a procedure, it looks completely natural. But because you know your own body, and if you are anything like me and you stare intensely at the mirror under very bright light looking for tiny imperfections – then you will see the difference up close. My hair is thin and fair so I notice this difference more. And it’s also my nature to obsess. With this in mind you want to be careful of anyone that over promises on the final result. Or anyone that promises that the density will be completely the same as your hair in your non-balding areas. It won’t be.
5. Too many grafts in one go!
You can only have a limited number of procedures in your life. 1 or 2 large procedures, possibly 4 or 5 smaller procedures. With that in mind you want to have an appropriate amount of grafts for your current circumstances. My hairline receded at the front, meaning that about 1000 grafts was appropriate; and I could lose more hair on top or at the back in the crown in the future. So unless I use medications or products then I may need further procedures. When gathering quotes I was offered procedures up to 1500 grafts to achieve a fuller result. It is common for clinics and quotes to vary a small amount. And depending on what result you want to achieve you may choose to opt for more grafts and a fuller density. Just bear in mind you only have a limited amount of transplantable hair. My view was that I can always go back for a second procedure.
6. No reviews or presence on the web! Or bad reviews!
This is huge! There are lots of commonly used review sites like www.whatclinic.co.uk for example. You should absolutely check for reviews on a clinic you may be considering on as many sites as you can find them on. A good clinic will come up in a Google search, or on at least one of the common review sites. If you can’t find any mention of your clinic on the Internet I would think twice. Bear in mind the reviews on the actual clinics website will be hand-picked by the clinic. And if they aren’t backed up by similar claims on other websites then they may not be genuine.
You may find negative reviews on your clinic too. If a large number of reviews or news articles are negative then start looking at other options. However if all your other research in to a clinic looks good and it is just 1 or 2 negative reviews then don’t completely write the clinic off. Instead check the validity of the complaint and even ask the clinic about the complaints. If you don’t feel confident look at other clinics. It’s just worth noting that some people like to complain. And this could be about the travel or hotel or wait time, rather than the quality of the procedure or result.
7. A pushy salesperson!
A good clinic will be in demand. They will not need to push you to book now or pay a deposit now. They will provide you with good quality detailed information about your circumstances and what options may be appropriate for you. They may even suggest trying medications before having surgery. You may be invited to come in for a consultation, or to video chat. This is all normal. And if you can be assessed in person then this is a good thing. My consultation was done by email with a series of photographs emailed to the clinic. You shouldn’t feel forced to do anything you don’t want to do. And you should be weary of anyone forcing you to commit to an appointment or to hand over any money too early in the process. The first few meetings or emails should be more about discussing your circumstances and what might work for you. And going through what the surgery will consist of and what the healing process looks like.
8. A lack of communication, clarity, or poor quality documentation!
A good clinic will have good communication. Their emails and documentation will look professional and of good quality. They should be fully transparent about who they are, their reviews, credentials and all the ins and outs of the process. You’ll be able to pick up the phone and dial a landline during office hours. They will have emails addresses at their domain name i.e. email@example.com, not firstname.lastname@example.org. And you’ll be able to see their premises on Google or in business directories. Bear in mind some private clinics will be in shared medical or professional buildings – so you may not see too much on Google maps street view. You should expect to have to supply photographs of you head from the back top, sides and front. As well as some information about your hair loss and general medical health. You should be invited to meet in person or video call for a more detailed consultation (email and photographs is sufficient if you are more comfortable with this). You should have the option to meet a consultant in person. Bear in mind the consultant will mostly likely not be the doctor who performs your surgery as they will be performing surgery most of the time. But if you really want to speak to them the clinic should oblige. If you aren’t getting the above. And you don’t feel comfortable or confident then you should consider another clinic.
9. No willingness to meet in person!
You don’t have to meet a consultant or doctor in person to arrange a hair transplant. You can do it all email if you want to – that is what I did. But it should be offered to you at some point. And if you ask for it the clinic should oblige in some capacity, either in person or by video call. If you are considering an appointment abroad it may not be possible to travel to the clinic in advance of the surgery. Knowing this a lot of clinics abroad offer consultation with a UK based sales consultant, or offer video calls, or can send you video links showing you their facilities or interviews with their surgeons. If you aren’t offered any of this or if you are discouraged from meeting then perhaps look at other clinics. Make sure you feel comfortable and confident in what you are looking to book before confirming anything. There are plenty of good quality clinics in all major cities. So pick one you feel comfortable with.