How to Spot a Cowboy Hair Transplant Surgeon

Both in the UK and throughout the rest of the world, cowboy hair transplant surgeons are risking the health of those suffering from hair loss in search of quick profit. Over the past few years, the number of patients who have been left with botched hair transplants from unregulated clinics has soared.

The popularity of hair transplant can be attributed largely to celebrities such as Wayne Rooney and Rafael Nadal undergoing the procedure, but also the pressures of social media creating new beauty standards. This demand has, unfortunately, lead to an increase in illicit clinics cutting corners to offer procedures at discounted prices.

This is concerning for a number of reasons. Hair transplants are a serious medical procedure that must be performed by skilled, qualified and experienced surgeons – however, a shocking number of clinics allow technicians with no medical background to carry them out. A poorly performed hair transplant can lead to long-term or even permanent damage and may cost thousands of pounds to remedy.

If you’re considering hair transplant surgery, you must undertake research and understand the warning signs that malpractice is at play – here are some of the common signs to look for if you suspect a surgeon or hair transplant clinic is illegitimate.

The cost of a hair transplant

Is it too good to be true? To put it plainly, hair transplants are not cheap, and for good reason. They require intricate surgery to be performed by a highly trained medical professional using state-of-the-art equipment.

One of the ways illegal clinics cut corners is to use trainee technicians rather than qualified surgeons. Often a group of up to 12 ‘technicians’ will be overseen by a single doctor, which is highly dangerous. Your scalp is not something that you should entrust to somebody who is not appropriately trained, as the potential for significant damage is high.


Anybody that performs a hair transplant should be qualified. An inability to prove a high level of education and training should be treated as suspect. Don’t be afraid to ask the medical credentials of whoever will be carrying out your surgery – any respectable clinic will be happy to provide these.

Before and after photographs

When examining before and after photographs, look for consistencies not only in the work being performed but the location, lighting and camera work. Trust your gut when looking through the gallery – if you feel as if something doesn’t add up, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions.

Testimonials and reviews

As well as before and after photographs, ask for testimonials. This is not an unusual request. Many clinics are happy for you to speak to their former patients about their hair transplant experience. It’s also worth looking at reviews for the clinic, either on Google or on a third-party site such as Trustpilot if they have it.

An introduction to Dr Shahmalak, Head Surgeon at Crown Clinic

Dr Shahmalak opened Crown Clinic in 2007 after completing an exemplary career in general surgery. His reputation is one of a responsible, skilled and an experienced medical professional.

Upon finishing his initial training in 1990, he relocated to Ireland work as a Senior House Officer in General Surgery. He was later promoted to the position of Specialist Registrar in general surgery.

In 1995, he became a member of the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS), and in 1996 he moved to the UK where he worked as a general surgeon within the NHS for 15 years.

In 2005, he began working privately as a hair transplant surgeon. Today he is a leading consultant, working to an exceptionally high standard. His procedures involve the use of 8x magnification and can include the extraction of up to 3,000 grafts per session.

If you would like to arrange a consultation with Dr Shahmalak or find out more about his skills and experience as a hair transplant surgeon, get in touch with Crown Clinic.