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Why hard sell tactics in aesthetics surgery have got to stop

Crown Clinic‘s surgeon Asim Shahmalak was recently commissioned by Aesthetics magazine to write a first-person piece on an issue he felt passionately about.

Dr Shahmalak wrote the following piece below on why hard-sell tactics have to come to an end in the aesthetics industry. The article was published in December’s issue of Aesthetics magazine – the leading monthly publication for the cosmetic surgery industry.


The most important thing we all have working in aesthetics is our reputations. Without that, we are nothing.
Patients quite rightly expect us to put their interests first regardless of the benefits to our businesses.

I have spent more than 30 years building up my reputation as one of the leading hair transplant surgeons in the world. I started out as a general surgeon – working first in Ireland after leaving medical school before coming to the UK to work in the NHS.

Around 10 years ago, I wanted to try something new and I began to train in hair transplantation before making the full-time switch and establishing my own clinic, Crown Clinic near to Manchester Airport, eight years ago.
I have never regretted making the switch. Making a real difference to hundreds of people’s lives every year is enormously rewarding. Male and female patients come to us with low self –esteem due to hair loss. Seeing their faces light up when they realise there is a permanent solution to the problem is the only professional satisfaction I need.

I am well known in the industry for my work with famous clients. I have performed hair transplants on well-known people such as the TV doctor Christian Jessen from the Channel 4 medical show Embarrassing Bodies and the model Calum Best. More recently, I have been working with the former Liverpool and Man City footballer Didi Hamann, now a respected TV pundit.

For every celebrity who has a hair transplant at Crown Clinic, there is another that I have turned away. Some of the biggest names in sport have walked through the doors of my clinic, but I have not been able to help them because it would not have been in their best interests.  At Crown Clinic, we would have benefited enormously by the global publicity such cases would attract, but I had to say no because I would have been failing in my duties as a doctor.

I set strict rules on which patients I will operate on. I won’t work with anyone under the age of 25, for instance, because it is impossible to establish a pattern of baldness in a patient before that age. Go too early and the consequences can be damaging to the patient.
I have noticed big changes in the aesthetics industry in the last 10 years. While the technologies have developed right across the board, offering patients highly sophisticated treatments which produce far better results than ever before, the ethics underpinning some of the clinics in our field leave a lot to be desired.
It is obvious to me that hard-sales tactics are being used to the detriment of the patient. There are only four hair transplantation clinics in the UK which are doctor-owned and run – including my own. Many others have excellent doctors working in them – providing fantastic hair transplant surgery for patients – but they are not the people in charge. The clinics are run by the sales team – or ‘consultants,’ as they are described to prospective patients. Their primary interest is not that of the patient – it is getting the sale and generating profits for the business. This can mean patients being operated on too early or when there is little chance of successful treatment because they are not suitable for a transplant.

I often see the results of this recklessness. Around 10% of my workload is what we could call ‘repair work’ – fixing the poor surgery provided by other clinics. Many other patients come to me after being left disappointed by work performed by other surgeons – particularly at clinics abroad.

It pains me to see the hard sell tactics being used so blatantly. It is evident right across the internet.  Salesman will set up websites offering hair transplantation at bargain prices. Dig deeper and there is a reason for these bargain prices: the surgery will be performed thousands of miles away from the UK, at clinics where there is not the level of regulation you have here. You see clinics heavily discounting their treatments during quiet periods – selling healthcare like it is a product on a supermarket shelf. Patients are incentivised to make a quick decision on surgery when they would be better served by a period of calm reflection before deciding whether to undertake a treatment.

Many patients are lured in by these hard-sell tactics and end up making a mistake which they regret for the rest of their lives.  The fact is: you pay for quality. The most important decision you make when you embark on cosmetic surgery is the choice of your surgeon.
It is not just in the field of hair transplantation that I see these hard-sell tactics – but right across the aesthetics industry. From breast implants to laser eye surgery, there are rogue operations that are damaging the reputations of us all and making some patients wary of seeking treatment which could transform their lives.

Anyone working in cosmetic surgery is heavily regulated. All clinics need approval from the Care Quality Commission which applies stringent checks to each clinic it licenses.  You are subject to spot checks and only the very best clinics are approved. But applying the same standards to the sales tactics employed by some clinics is far harder. There will be some borderline cases where a sales consultant might say yes to a procedure whereas a surgeon might say no.

We need to be putting more power into the hands of doctors and clinicians who are experts in their field and relying less on salespeople and consultants who may sometimes put the bottom line ahead of the interest s of their patients. It’s time to end the hard sell.

Our Surgeon

Dr. Asim Shahmalak

Dr Asim Shahmalak is a world-renowned hair transplant surgeon who performed the UK’s first eyelash transplant in 2009. He runs Crown Clinic – one of Britain’s most successful and best known hair transplant clinics. He has treated a number of high-profile industry leaders and celebrities including the medical broadcaster Dr Christian Jessen, best known for Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies.

Expert hair transplant surgery by Dr Shahmalak

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Hair transplants – where hair from the back of the scalp is extracted and transplanted in balding areas – may be a well-known or even commonplace procedure nowadays, but did you know that body hair transplants are also possible? 

Body hair transplants are certainly a lesser-known procedure, but still one that can be viable for the right candidate – here’s what you should know. 

How do body hair transplants work? 

Body hair transplants work in a very similar way to traditional hair transplants, except that hair is extracted from – you guessed it – donor sites on the body. Patients seeking this type of transplant have typically undergone several hair transplants already and exhausted their supply of donor hair on their scalp. However, for some patients, a body hair transplant is a preferable option if they have naturally thin, patchy hair or if they have acquired a scalp injury that impacts the typical donor areas.

Generally, donor areas for body hair transplants are the abdomen, chest and back. Hair follicles on the arms and legs may be in abundant supply, but the hairs tend to be too fine to use on the scalp. 

The body hair transplant process itself closely mirrors traditional hair transplants. The donor area is shaved before the surgery, and during the procedure the hairs are extracted from the donor area under local anaesthetic, before being transplanted into the thinning areas of the scalp. The length of the procedure depends on how many grafts are needed and the recovery process is comparable to standard hair transplants. 

Can hair be transplanted from the head to the body? 

Body hair transplants can work the other way around, where hairs from the scalp are transplanted in other areas of the body. A common example of this is eyebrow transplants, but head hair can be transplanted in other areas such as the chest or pubic region. Although a less common form of surgery, it can be an option for people who have lost body hair through genetic or external factors such as chemotherapy or injury. 

What are the results of body hair transplants? 

It’s worth noting that often body hair transplants do have a lower success rate than typical hair transplants, partially due to the lower levels of compatibility between the hairs on the head and the hairs on the body and the different structures of the hairs. However, during your consultation you will be able to discuss any potential issues with your surgeon. 

To find out more about body hair transplants and to find out if you may be a suitable candidate for the surgery, get in touch with Crown Clinic. 


For many men, the inability to grow a beard is something that they feel particularly self-conscious of. For those who can grow a beard, they often find that it doesn’t always grow in a uniform fashion, resulting in patchy facial hair.

Beard transplants are a permanent way to create a natural-looking, full beard. If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, here’s what you need to know if you’re considering undergoing beard transplant surgery.

What happens during a beard transplant

Beard transplants are carried out through either follicular unit extraction (FUE) or follicular unit transplantation (FUT). FUE is the most common transplantation technique for beard transplants, which involves individual hair follicles being removed from the donor area and transplanted in the sparse areas of the beard.

The surgeon will determine the direction that the hair should grow in to make sure the new hairs blend in seamlessly with the existing beard hair and to create the desired look.

If you’re a good candidate for beard transplantation

To be eligible for a beard transplant, prospective patients must have an adequate supply of donor hair – this is typically hair from the back of the head, as it tends to be one of the last areas to go bald.

However, beard to beard transplants are also sometimes an option for disguising smaller areas of hair loss. This technique involves follicles being taken from the area below the jawline and transplanted in the sparse areas.

When having your beard transplant consultation, your surgeon should give you a thorough examination to determine if you are a suitable candidate for surgery and discuss your options with you.

What the potential side effects are

Although beard transplants are a generally safe procedure, it’s important to follow the aftercare instructions provided to reduce the risk of infection. Your face and scalp may experience minor swelling and irritation in the days after the surgery, but this will be eased by sticking to the aftercare routine.

FUE surgery does often cause some scarring in the donor area, but the scars are so small that the natural hair growth will disguise them.

How much a beard transplant costs

The price of the beard transplant depends on several different factors, such as the number of hair grafts required. During your consultation, your surgeon will be able to give you an accurate quote for the surgery.

Booking a beard transplant consultation

Crown Clinic is one of the UK’s most reputable hair transplant clinics, offering state-of-the-art facilities and procedures under the care of Dr Asim Shahmalak, a world-renowned hair transplant surgeon. If you’d like to find out more about beard transplants, get in touch or book a consultation.

Whether you’ve had a disastrous haircut that you’re desperately trying to grow out or are simply bored of your current hairstyle, there’s a good chance you will have searched for ways to grow your hair faster – but is that actually possible?

It’s worth noting that even the healthiest hair only grows around an average of half an inch per month, or six inches over the course of a year. Understandably, this can make people feel as if their hair is growing at a glacial pace – especially when you consider that we also lose up to 100 hairs per day.

How does the hair grow?

Hair grows from the follicle – or root – that is underneath the skin. The blood vessels in the scalp around the base of the follicles supply the roots with oxygen and nutrients, which will help the hairs to grow.

Does scalp massage help the hair grow?

Scalp massagers – brushes with soft, silicone bristles designed to be used when washing the hair – are currently proving popular, but are they actually worth the money?

Although scalp massage can increase blood flow to the scalp, and therefore bring more nutrients to the follicle, there is no evidence that massage will stimulate hair growth. However, scalp massagers can help to remove product buildup and excess oil from the scalp, which will improve the overall health of the hair.

Does cutting hair make it grow faster?

One of the biggest hair myths around is that getting regular hair trims can make the hair grow faster. This is, of course, completely false. Hair grows from the follicles, which are unaffected when the ends are cut off the hair.

Getting a trim can get rid of split ends, which occur when the ends of the hair become dry and damaged. Split ends can gradually progress up the length of the hair, meaning that hair is more prone to breakage – so if you feel as if your hair has been the same length for months, it could be due to split ends. Keep on top of them with regular trims to keep your hair looking healthy.

Will hair vitamins help my hair grow?

Although you will have undoubtedly seen countless influencers pushing pastel-coloured supplements on their Instagram feeds, claiming they have transformed their hair, this unfortunately isn’t true in most cases.

If you are suffering from hair loss due to a nutritional deficiency, then supplements may boost your hair growth, but you will need to consult with a GP to make sure that you are getting everything you need. If you have no deficiencies, hair growth supplements are unlikely to have any impact on the hair.

There may not be any quick fixes to hurry along your hair growth, but the best thing you can do for the health of your hair is to look after your overall health – take a look at Crown Clinic’s expert advice to find out how to keep your hair looking its best.