Hair Transplant on NHS
Hair transplant surgery has grown in popularity over the years, stemming from the rise of cheaper cosmetic clinics in Turkey and other areas which have made the procedure widely available.
However, the question in mind of this article is, “does the NHS offer hair transplants?”.
In short, there is no NHS hair transplant offered. Hair transplants are cosmetic procedures carried out in order to treat various conditions of male or female pattern baldness, alopecia, and other reasons for thinning hair.
These hair transplant procedures are not deemed as essential and are therefore not entitled to a hair transplant on NHS. Although some people may argue that thinning hair or patterned baldness may – and does – negatively impact one’s mental health, the NHS still does not cover this certain procedure.
What Is the NHS?
The National Health Service (NHS) is a government-funded medical service that provides the utmost care to people in the United Kingdom, without a cost. Nearly all hospitals, general practitioners, and other primary care centers found in the UK are covered by the NHS.
The NHS offers the residents of the United Kingdom a plethora of services including:
- GP (general practitioner) appointments – You will be able to make an appointment to visit your local family doctor for a consultation, prescription, and/or a treatment plan
- Treatment in hospital – This may be either through Accident and Emergency (ER/A&E) or via an elective procedure. All UK residents are entitled to surgical and pharmacological care in NHS hospitals
- Pregnancy Care – You are entitled to your obstetrician and gynecologist throughout your pregnancy with regular visits to the midwife
- Urgent Care – All UK residents are able to use hospitals emergency services, ambulances, and emergency surgery
All of the above services offered by the NHS are free of charge to any UK resident. This may sound too good to be true, but luckily the NHS is publicly funded, meaning that money has been allocated from government tax to continue to fund our visits to the doctor or hospital.
The NHS is not only located in one place as there is more than one NHS in the country. This is because the responsibility of the health care system has been passed to the Scottish Government, Welsh Government, as well as the Northern Irish Party. Although not officially called the NHS in Northern Ireland, it is referred to as the Health and Social Care Services.
Each of these publicly funded health services is obligated to provide free healthcare at the point of delivery, whether that may be through emergency or elective work. However, not all parts of the healthcare service programmes are publicly funded, and certain surgeries such as cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery must be pre-approved first.
For example, those living in England are expected to pay an allocated prescription charge per item of medication on their medication, whereas the other governments (Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) within the United Kingdom have allocated government funds to budget off these prescription charges.
NHS And Cosmetic Surgery
Let’s get one thing straight. Cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery are two completely different medical procedures and should not be confused.
Cosmetic surgery is usually a procedure carried out to enhance one’s appearance, whereas plastic surgery covers a wider range of topics and is usually done over medically appropriate terms.
NHS cosmetic surgery is not routinely offered but may be offered occasionally in order to combat physiological or mental disorders. For example:
- Breast Augmentation – If you suffer with breasts too large that may cause back pain and other psychological stress
- Nose Reshaping – This is carried out if somebody has issues breathing
As you can see, for the NHS to provide somebody with cosmetic surgery, they must be suffering from a great deal of inconvenience to warrant the free treatment.
Plastic surgery, on the other hand, is used to repair damaged tissue and skin in order to restore them to their original look and function. The aesthetic appearance of the surgical outcome is secondary to restoring the function of the location where plastic surgery is needed.
Conditions which require plastic surgery as opposed to cosmetic surgery include:
- Birth Defects (Cleft lip, birthmarks, etc)
- Areas damaged by skin cancer or burns
Plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery both help enhance a person’s self-esteem and confidence, as well as improve one’s quality of life.
NHS Stance On Hair Loss Treatment
Unfortunately, due to limited sources, there is no current NHS hair loss treatment, whether that may be due to conditions such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), thyroid defects, or even birth defects.
Like most cosmetic treatments out there, hair transplants and hair loss treatments must be treated privately.
For those wanting to carry out hair transplants or seeking hair treatment, private doctors must be contacted. Private care must be sought out even when it comes to wanting medication to help treat hair loss such as finasteride and minoxidil.
NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) assesses the benefit and practicality of each procedure prior to it being available on the NHS using a strict criteria. As the demand for services on the NHS grows, funding restrictions mean that resources must be used sparingly in areas more in need, which unfortunately renders hair transplants out of the list of procedures suitable for NHS resources.
However, the NHS may in exceptional circumstances be able to fund a transplant if the patient has lost hair due to a severe accident or burn, and only if the proposal is approved by members of the surgical boards. This process does take a very long period of time and most cases usually get denied.
Whilst a hair transplant does bring many benefits to the receiver, whether they may be psychological or physiological, NHS hair transplants UK are not deemed essential or life-saving.
Advancements in technology and medical development have allowed surgeons to master the art of cosmetic procedures such as hair transplant surgeries. Thankfully, this level of education has allowed for a wide range of private hair transplant surgeries to open up in the uk that offer a high degree of expertise.
When deciding that you want or need to undergo hair loss treatment, it is of your best concern to seek non-surgical treatments first. Upon your initial consultation with your general practitioner, you will discuss if there is any nhs hair loss medication available or if you have to source alternatives yourself.
In most cases, hair loss medication treatment has to be sought out privately. You will therefore either be referred to a private general practitioner or have to find one yourself who will prescribe you either finasteride or Minoxidil.
These are the only two medications currently licensed for the treatment of hair loss but are not available on the NHS. Both of these medications have different mechanisms of action, and therefore can both be tried if one does not work for you. However, a thorough discussion with your private doctor will help you find the best treatment for you.
There are, of course, alternative non-surgical methods out there to help treat hair loss, such as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP). These treatments have been proven to help treat hair loss but are only available in independent cosmetic clinics that offer this kind of treatment.
Scalp Reduction Surgery
Scalp reduction surgery is a procedure carried out on both men and women in order to help treat various causes of hair loss, most specifically top-hair baldness. The procedure involves tightening your scalp in order to move areas that are covered by hair to those areas that are not, whether that may be from the side or back of your scalp.
When it comes to the NHS, procedures in place to help fix or maintain one’s hairline are not usually included free of charge. Certain NHS regions, however, may take cases depending on the nature of the hair loss.
In order to be considered a good candidate for NHS scalp reduction surgery, you must first attend a consultation with your general practitioner who will decide whether or not to refer you to an NHS hospital where you will receive a consultation from both a plastic surgeon and a psychiatrist.
An extensive list of consultations is in place in order to ensure that the surgery is justified to be carried out free of charge and the reasoning behind the surgery is due to uncontrollable defects such as birth abnormalities or war injuries.
As mentioned, hair loss can lead to various psychological distresses which vary from person to person. For example, a person suffering from hair loss may consequently experience:
- A lack of self-esteem
And many more. However, there has been a proven link between suffering from mental health disorders and hair loss, and therefore the degree of hair loss may be heightened if one is to suffer from the latter.
Let’s not forget that hair loss can also be a side effect of a very serious condition or medication that someone has had to take, for example, various chemotherapy. Hair loss could also be a cause of uncontrollable genetic factors.
Coping with hair loss varies from person to person, and therefore a visit to your general practitioner is essential not only to try and find you the best hair loss treatment but to offer you psychological treatment when in need.
Those who suffer from hair loss have a valid argument that hair transplants and treatments should be available on the NHS due to the effect that hair loss has on one’s mental health, whether hair loss occurs as a result of mental health and stresses, or the hair loss is causing the mental health issues
Unfortunately, there is no current NHS policy providing hair loss treatment for hair loss related to mental health, where we believe there should be.
Hair treatments, whether they may be via medications, transplants, or other non-surgical procedures, can positively impact someone’s life and reverse damage caused by uncontrollable conditions such as alopecia that may have been the cause of the hair loss.
These treatments not only reverse conditions but give these patients a new lease on life and significantly improve mental health and self-esteem.
Not only is losing your hair upsetting, but it may even lead to a loss of character. To a lot of people, hair defines who they are. We are allowed to style our hair in any way, shape, or form in order to showboat our personality to the world.
If losing your hair is causing you a considerable amount of distress, then be sure to take the first step towards getting help and call for an appointment with your general practitioner. They may refer you to a hair loss specialist or even offer counselling.
Support groups are available all over the UK, similarly to those provided by Alopecia UK, which meets together and talks about the distresses caused to them by hair loss, and how you may help one another.
As we know by now, the NHS is publicly funded and under a lot of pressure. This means that when resources are allocated, conditions such as alopecia and hair loss are deemed life-threatening and are not offered the public money.
Remember, make use of the free services available at your doorstep. Make a GP consultation and discuss, in detail, the benefits of hair loss therapy and treatments, if there is an NHS hair loss referral to a specialist or clinic, and what are the hair transplant side effects (if you do opt for one).