ISHRS Probono Program helps 17 Year Old With Severe Scarring

Twenty-year-old college student Hanna C. of Hartford, Ky., has gotten really good at beating the odds. Born 15 weeks premature and given only a five percent chance to live, Hanna not only survived but thrived with the love and support of her aunt and uncle who raised her and whom Hanna knows only as mom and dad. But her difficult birth resulted in severe scarring and infection on her scalp, leading to lifelong scarring that robbed her of hair follicles on her scalp. The resulting hair loss would prove to be a thorn in Hanna’s side throughout her young life.



“Hanna sensed early on that her hair loss made her different from other kids, but starting kindergarten was harder than we imagined—kids on the playground called her a monster because of how her head looked,” said Hanna’s mother, Sheri C. “It broke our hearts, so we decided to pull her out of kindergarten that year and enrolled her in a smaller pre-school. When kindergarten approached the next year, we were prepared with a plan to address her hair loss head on. We used a small doll and blackened its head to look like Hanna’s bruises and explained to the kids how when Hanna’s scabs flaked off after she was born, they took her hair follicles with them. Hanna then pulled off her custom-made wig and bravely showed the kids her little bald head. She asked them ‘don’t look at my head, look at my heart—I will be good to you, you be good to me.’ For the most part, our plan worked.”



Sheri knew hair restoration surgery might be an option for Hanna, and she consulted with William M. Parsley, MD, FISHRS, of Louisville, Ky., when Hanna was a toddler. A member of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS), Dr. Parsley explained that Hanna would need to mature and her hair would need to strengthen with age before they could explore hair restoration options.


“The hardest part of coping with the hair loss was waking up every morning trying to cover up the bald spot,” said Hanna. “Before I went to school some mornings, I would get so upset that I would cry and get aggravated trying to cover up the spot when it wasn’t working. I also had wigs that I tried wearing, but the wig would get so hot and sweaty on my head that I had to take it off by the end of the day.”



When Hanna turned 17, they returned to Dr. Parsley who determined the best approach for Hanna’s case. But when the family’s insurance denied the surgery twice and the odds of raising the needed funds on their own seemed bleak, Dr. Parsley suggested they share Hanna’s case with Operation Restore—the ISHRS’s pro bono program designed to match prospective hair restoration patients suffering from hair loss as a result of an accident, trauma or disease with a physician willing to help those who lack the resources to obtain treatment on their own. Hanna’s application was accepted, and she was matched with Dr. Parsley who performed three surgeries over three years to restore Hanna’s hair.


“Deciding on the best approach for Hanna’s case was difficult, as her scalp was inflexible and the scarring was in scattered patches,” said Dr. Parsley. “I used a total of approximately 6,200 grafts over the course of three years, and Hanna’s results have been surprisingly good considering the extent and depth of her scarring. She had no touch or thermal sensation in the scarred areas, and within a month after her first surgery Hanna was surprised to be able to feel the wind blowing and temperature changes. It has been a very gratifying case for me personally, and Hanna and her family are so grateful and happy with her results.”


Today, Hanna loves her hair and noticed that she kept getting more confidence in herself when her hair started to grow. She enjoys styling her hair now and can finally style it the way she wants to without constantly trying to cover up the bald areas.


“When my hair fully grew in, it made my life better by giving me more self-confidence and feeling more comfortable with my head. I wasn’t constantly worrying about people staring at me and asking me questions,” said Hanna.


Since its inception in 2004, Operation Restore has provided more than $630,000 worth of free hair restoration surgery and expenses for 65 patients suffering from hair loss due to an injury or a medical condition.


While heredity is the most common cause of hair loss, cases of hair loss due to injury, trauma or disease are not uncommon and typically occur from such things as burns, dog bites, accidents or following radiation therapy to treat certain types of brain cancer. Hair loss that results from injury, trauma or certain medical conditions is usually permanent. However, hair restoration surgery is an option for most patients to restore this type of hair loss and typically requires several reconstructive surgeries.

How Operation Restore Can Help


Patients suffering from hair loss due to disease or trauma and cannot afford hair restoration surgery are encouraged to apply to the ISHRS’s Operation Restore program. Applications are available through this link.  They are reviewed by the Pro Bono Committee of the ISHRS. Selected patients are matched with an ISHRS physician volunteer and every effort is made to match patients with physicians in their geographic area.  In cases where travel is necessary, the program covers these expenses for the patient.


Since, in many cases selected, Operation Restore patients are matched with a physician they have never met, the ISHRS includes a mechanism in the approval process whereby patients are encouraged to ask the matched physician questions and view their before and after photos of other patients. The ISHRS wants patients to be as comfortable with their matches as if they had selected the physicians themselves.


The Operation Restore program is made possible by the generous donations of its individual and corporate donors who provide monetary or medical and surgical services. To make a direct donation to help the Operation Restore program, please make check payable to “ISHRS – Operation Restore” or contact us for more information.


GENEVA, IL. – March 4, 2019



Hair restoration patients around the world are being lured to “black market pirate clinics” operated by non-physicians with little or no training promising guaranteed results which pose serious risks to unsuspecting men and women seeking help for hair loss. In fact, a recent member survey gauging ISHRS members’ familiarity or experience treating patients who have suffered a botched hair restoration surgery found that 77.5 percent of survey respondents saw at least six or more cases per year, and that number is climbing drastically.


To educate patients about this growing problem, the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) — the world’s leading medical authority on hair loss treatment and restoration — has initiated an aggressive worldwide  Patient Awareness Campaign designed to help patients recognize fraudulent hair restoration clinics and misleading advertising claims. Specifically, social media engagement will be the cornerstone of this physician-led campaign, with physicians and patients sharing stories of this growing problem.


The ISHRS also has established detailed information on its website ( under the header “Beware of the Hair Transplant Black Market” to help patients find relevant information when considering a hair transplant, including how to evaluate a surgeon’s credentials and patient photos illustrating the dangers and problems that occur when clinics do not have the patients best interest.


“Many of the illegal clinics have sophisticated websites ranking high with Google paid ads to attract the consumer into a clinic that appears on the surface very professional.  The marketing tactics are deceptive as it appears like a team of professional doctors with excellent testimonials. However, the reality is your surgery may be done by someone with no medical training.  The demand is so high, reports are that Taxi cab drivers and Syrian refugees do the surgery in some overseas countries.


Patients are the ones that suffer when they realize too late who did the surgery and end up with botched  complications and scars and hairlines that are not normal and disfiguring.  said Ricardo Mejia, MD, chair of the ISHRS Committee on Issues Pertaining to the Unlicensed Practice of Medicine. “This is a serious crisis for anyone seeking help for hair loss, which is why the ISHRS is working diligently to educate patients about these dangers. We have many competent doctors in the ISHRS operating in the medical tourism industry who have signed a commitment that the Doctor does the surgery and have attended educational meetings regularly to assure the hair restoration surgery in the end makes you happy and not one you will regret for a lifetime. “


In the recent ISHRS member survey on black market hair transplants, ISHRS members confirmed that this illegal practice is widespread and causing harm to patients around the world — In countries where the problem is rampant and the tourism is high doctors are seeing the problems almost daily.


Specific problems members reported encountering include scarring, unnatural hairlines, poor hair growth, wrong hair direction, depleted donor area in the scalp  leaving a bald appearance,  , infections and inaccurate graft counts. Some patients think they are getting 4000-6000 grafts when in reality they may only get half. Examples of specific member responses included, “I have seen an exponential increase in complications from poor harvesting and poor growth, not to mention results that are not aesthetic,” and “I’ve seen numerous FUE disaster cases from countries where patients were lured by  the glamour of medical tourism but unfortunately did not get the results expected.”


With the increased popularity of medical tourism in recent years, the ISHRS implores potential patients to do their homework before considering a hair transplant in another country as laws and regulations pertaining to surgical procedures can be much different than those in their own country. Additionally, there is no recourse when something goes wrong.  In the recent ISHRS survey when members were asked to rank on a scale of one to ten (10 being the worst) how big of a problem the issue of black market clinics or unlicensed personnel performing hair restoration surgery in other countries is, 63.27 percent of ISHRS members acknowledged the severity of the problem and responded with either an 8 (23.47 percent), 9 (13.27 percent) or 10 (26.53 percent).


Consumers are being encouraged to visit the site and verify the credentials of the clinic and or doctor.


“We hope patients will use the new ISHRS resources to educate themselves about the risks of undergoing a hair restoration procedure on the black market and to make sure they understand the local laws and regulations when considering a hair transplant in another country,” said Dr. Tykocinski , President of the ISHRS.  Forewarned is forearmed could not be truer when it comes to avoiding being a victim of unscrupulous hair transplant  clinics. This problem is also happening in every country, where greedy entrepreneurs and clinic owners choose a business turnkey model where a hair transplant practice emerges almost instantly and the patient is mainly assisted by unlicensed professionals and the physician, if present, has no experience or is minimally involved into the procedure at all.


The ISHRS recommends If you are seeking to travel overseas, know who the doctor is that will be doing the surgery. Verify the ISHRS credentials and training, and ask to have an observer in the room to confirm the doctor does the surgery. If it is not allowed, think twice.  If you care about your results, you may have to pay a little bit more for a doctor and qualified trained team than the taxi cab driver.


About the ISHRS

The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) is a global non-profit medical association and the leading authority on hair loss treatment and restoration with more than 1,100 members throughout 70 countries worldwide. Above all, the ISHRS is dedicated to achieving excellence in patient outcomes by promoting the highest standards of medical practice, medical ethics, and research in the medical hair restoration industry.


The ISHRS is the leader in high quality education for hair restoration surgeons. The ISHRS has achieved the highest level of accreditation to organize education for physicians from the renowned Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education.


The ISHRS provides continuing medical education to physicians specializing in hair transplant surgery and is committed to delivering the latest information on medical and surgical treatments to consumers suffering from hair loss, and most commonly from androgenetic alopecia–male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss. It was founded in 1993 as the first international society to promote continuing quality improvement and education for professionals in the field of hair restoration surgery. For more information and to locate a physician, visit


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