Volunteer Hair Restoration Physicians Helping Patients Restore Hair Through Unique Pro Bono Program

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Operation Restore offers free hair transplants for patients in need


GENEVA, IL – January 12, 2016. Hair loss that occurs at any age and under any circumstance can be disheartening. But for those experiencing traumatic hair loss due to an injury or as a result of a medical condition, the unexpectedness can be particularly devastating.


Those affected by traumatic hair loss come from all walks of life. The firefighter who had anything but a typical day at the office when a fire he battled left him with extensive burns, resulting in a large section of permanent hair loss on his scalp and back of his head. The young cancer survivor left to deal with permanent hair loss as a result of aggressive doses of radiation and chemotherapy that saved his life. The young girl who severely injured her scalp following a fall, suffering extensive hair loss that she kept a secret with wigs and weaves for years. The young boy whose attempt to help his dad refuel a lawn mower resulted in severe scalp burns and permanent hair loss.


Their stories are all too familiar to volunteer physicians of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery’s (ISHRS) Operation Restore program, a 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. Currently, 97 ISHRS volunteer physicians from around the world donate their services to Operation Restore—giving patients of all ages not only their hair back, but in many cases their self-esteem.


“What we hear time and time again from Operation Restore patients is that their hair loss affected their emotional well being and overall quality of life more than they ever would have expected,” said Edwin Epstein, MD, FISHRS, chair of the ISHRS Pro Bono Committee. “When a person’s self-esteem or self-image is damaged, this can negatively affect everything from personal relationships to work and professional growth. Restoring a patient’s hair reverberates to other aspects of their lives that have suffered as a result of the unexpected hair loss. When we give patients their hair back, we essentially give them their lives back.”


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. Dr. Epstein noted that, unfortunately, hair loss that results from injury, trauma or a medical condition is usually permanent. For most patients, hair restoration surgery is an option 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 the ISHRS Web site—www.ishrs.org—and 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 included 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 visit https://ishrs.org/media-center/pro-bono-foundation.htm.


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 1,200 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 also 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 www.ishrs.org.

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