Interview Dr. Feriduni

Hair surgery is a question of trust: An interview with Dr. Bijan Feriduni 

Hair loss and hair problems in general are a sensitive and extremely personal subject. Patients already unsettled by the loss of their hair often become even more confused through unclear information, difficulties in understanding specialist jargon and insufficient advice and information about hair transplantation. 

As a way of answering a few of your questions in advance, you will find here an interview with Dr. Feriduni, enabling you to learn more about the field of hair transplantation, Dr. Feriduni himself and the Dr. Feriduni Hair Clinic. 

Should you have any further questions or should you want to meet Dr. Feriduni personally, please do not hesitate to contact us. (link to contact) 

What sort of medical background do you have? What sort of training did you go through? How much experience do you have? 

I was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, where my father still works as a general practitioner. This was probably a factor contributing to my decision to study medicine at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt am Main after passing my Abitur. 8 years later, in 1993, I started my career in the surgery department of a hospital in Heppenheim, Germany. I was awarded my doctorate one year later, going on to work for 2.5 years as an assistant surgeon. 

In 1995 I started my training as a cosmetic surgeon. In the course of this training, I worked at a number of clinics throughout Europe, gaining experience, deepening my knowledge and learning international standards. Since then, my focus has been on hair surgery. 

Opening my hair clinic in Hasselt (Belgium) was the logical next step and I started specialising in the different treatment methods involved in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. Together with my team, I can focus all my energy here on hair surgery, offering the whole range of treatment methods. 

To date, I have carried out about 6000 hair transplant surgeries, ca. 900 among these were FUEs. I am also specialized in eyelash transplantation. 

What is your philosophy? What are the principles you follow?

My agenda is topped by patient well-being. I am here at the service of my patients, providing them - whether men or women - with something positive. They are the focus of attention, and one of our main concerns is to find out their goals and expectations and to fulfil these as best as possible. For me, this includes a comprehensive personal consultation during which I go through all aspects of treatment - different treatment methods, their pros and cons and any risks involved. 

Nearly all patients have experienced a long odyssey, often having heard about negative results, sometimes themselves having experienced negative things and consequently somewhat confused. I see it as my duty to inform and advise them honestly and tactfully about this sensitive field. 

Put in a nutshell, it is important to provide the best possible treatment with the least risk, while at the same time always taking into account the individual wishes and circumstances of each patient. 

Why did you decide to move into the field of cosmetic surgery? What do you find fascinating about hair surgery? What do you do to maintain your interest in hair transplantation? 

Cosmetic surgery - and hair surgery in particular - is a very complex field. I see it as a mix of art and science, and the high demands their combination brings. This interests and challenges me again and again - and is the reason why I find the field of hair transplantation constantly fascinating. 

Obviously, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery is primarily based on scientific, medical and surgical principles, but one should not forget that it is also a form of art. This combination can hardly be found in any other field. On top of this comes the personal side - over the years I have developed a number of personal contacts with my patients. 

Like many other doctors, I can generally say that I find my work very fulfilling. It is a pleasure to help people and, in my case, to see the positive effects my treatment has on a patient and his life. A happy patient - that's the result repeatedly thrilling me and my team. 

What are your particular strengths? What are your outstanding skills?

I know that patients treated by me greatly value the natural look of my hair transplants. Finding the right hairline is not easy - you don't just need knowledge of the various techniques and their application, you also need to have a feeling and an eye for aesthetics and harmony. In the context of hair surgery, I concentrate on finding the right hairline, doing everything to make it look natural. 

I have been working for 20 years now as a hair surgeon. Over these years I have come across a whole range of different patients, each with his own head shape, type of hair, hairline and individual form of hair loss. After having treated patients for all these years, I think I am now in a position to state that I know exactly what I am doing. Nevertheless, we should not forget that all my success would not be possible without my team. 

Seizing opportunities, avoiding risks, focusing on a patient's wishes, goals and concerns – these are our guiding principles. At our hair clinic here in Hasselt, Belgium, we do our best to make patients feel at home, whether before, during or after treatment and often going beyond hair transplantation itself. This service is greatly valued by our patients. 

Which techniques / treatment methods do you use in your clinic?

I myself carry out FUT and FUE transplants. This involves extracting strips or individual follicle units from donor areas and transplanting them. I use both techniques to transplant hair, eyelashes, eyebrows and beards. One of my focuses is correcting previous transplants.

We mostly perform FUE procedures nowadays to avoid that patients end up with a linear scar after surgery but in some cases, especially in older patients or patients with a major hair loss pattern, FUT is still the most indicated technique. 

What should patients have in mind? Have you any tips for patients?

Each patient should have in mind that he or she is not alone - hair loss is something affecting lots of people, and with a whole range of different causes. As there are different ways of treating hair loss, I would like to encourage patients to inform themselves as much as possible about the whole subject. Internet is a good way of doing so and can be a good starting point. There you will find a number of dedicated and serious forums, in which you can discuss your situation with others, while at the same time learning more about hair loss. 

Patients should also bear in mind that there are different causes of hair loss and that hair loss is an progressive process. Take a look at the websites of various physicians, and contact and consult more than one physician. An online consultation can be a first step, but there is nothing like a face-to-face consultation with your prospective treating physician. 

And don't forget - you are in the driving seat, so ask as much as you want. If there is something you don't understand, ask for an explanation. Ask about the physician's qualifications and whether he belongs to any professional associations or organisations. You have a right to be informed as comprehensively as possible - don't forget, you are about to experience something that will change you and your whole life. 

Speak with other patients, ones who have already been treated, have them show you their before-and-after photos. You might even be able to personally visit other patients. Serious physicians will give you access to such information. This is the only way of finding out which treatment and which doctor is the right one for you. 

What should patients bear in mind when consulting a hair surgeon or thinking about a hair transplant? 

I have dealt with a number of important points while answering the last question. Nevertheless there are a few things every patient should bear in mind. 

Take your time to come to a decision, weighing up all the pros and cons. You’re under no pressure, no obligation. Don't let yourself be put under pressure by your doctor or feel obliged to do something. 

A serious hair surgeon will take time to listen. He will inquire about a patient's wishes and expectations, honestly informing him whether these are realistic and feasible. A good hair surgeon is in a position to exactly weigh up the opportunities and limitations of any treatment. A doctor who you do not know personally or with whom you have only had fleeting contact, one who has no time for his patients or pays no attention to them and their concerns, is probably not the right hair surgeon for you. 

What can patients realistically expect from a hair transplant, in particular with regard to naturalness and hair density? 

I'm glad you've asked this question. These days it is very difficult to tell whether someone has had a hair transplant, especially when looking at the hairline. Modern hair transplantation techniques, especially FUE, make it possible for patients to wear their hair short - and in most cases not even their hairdresser will notice that they have been treated. 

Of course the degree of naturalness, and with it natural hair density, is very much dependent on which hair surgeon carries out the treatment. Hair density and hairline need to match the face and the existing hair - and this is where the skill, experience and sensitivity of the surgeon come to bear. His ability determines the design and naturalness of any hair transplant. 

What are the key success factors?

This question is not easy to answer, as there are so many aspects needing to be taken into account. What I can say is that a harmonious and skilful interaction of such aspects is needed to achieve results meeting the expectations of both patient and surgeon. 

To achieve an excellent result, many demands are placed on the hair surgeon. These begin with his training, his knowledge about different treatment methods and techniques, and his experience. And last but not least, all is dependent on his artistic talent and to what degree he is able to envisage the end result. To gain all this experience and hone all these capabilities is something that takes years - but then again that is exactly what distinguishes a good hair surgeon from a very good one. 

Hair transplants basically involve microsurgery; therefore the equipment needed, the knowledge of how to use it and the facilities available in the clinic need to match each other, as they also determine the success of any hair transplant. 

Another very important factor in my opinion is the team and how long they have worked together. A well-trained and experienced team is worth its weight in gold. 

What is the best thing about any hair transplant?

A hair transplant is a decision having a great effect on a patient's whole life. When the patient comes back a year after the hair transplant for a check-up, I have the opportunity to examine the end result - and it’s great to see how happy patients are. 

Over the years you get to know a number of personal stories and fates at first hand. This makes it all the more rewarding to experience successful treatment at first hand, hearing from patients such statements as "that was the best decision of my whole life", or "if I had known how good I felt after the transplant, I would have had it done a lot earlier". I see such statements and success stories as a confirmation of my work - and they greatly motivate me. 

What changes do you register in patients who have been through hair transplantation?

From a medical perspective, we don't really need hair. But our appearance is dominated by what state our hair is in. Full hair is seen as an ideal of beauty, a symbol of a dynamic character, youth and success. If we start losing our hair, it often has a major negative influence on our self-confidence. The way we are seen by other people is totally dependent on our appearance. Hair loss can have a significant effect on our self-confidence and attractiveness, causing great suffering to our psyche. Obviously there are men who look great with thin hair or no hair at all. Just look at Bruce Willis. But that is by no means generally true. 

And we shouldn't forget women, the ones suffering from thin hair or hair loss. You would be surprised how many of them there are. And don't forget that hair loss in women is much less socially acceptable. The consequences for a woman's psyche and her whole life are often very deep-going. 

Or take people who are victims of an accident, burning or scalding or have been ill, or where radiotherapy has led to their hair falling out – a transplant is often the only way for them to lead a normal life. 

Then we also have patients suffering from a hair transplant that went wrong. Maybe their hairline is unnatural, too deep, too straight or in the wrong place, maybe they have bad scarring or their hair grows in the wrong direction, maybe their hair density is not right, maybe the grafts were too big, or maybe the operating doctor just didn't give the face the right balance. 

The positive changes I notice in my patients are often very extensive and deep-going. They look a lot happier, they laugh more, they have a completely different aura. You can just see that they feel a lot better. 

Lots of patients report back that it's not just their appearance that has clearly changed for the better, but also that their self-confidence has been greatly boosted. This newfound self-confidence changes their aura and their self-perception - their whole psyche, their self-esteem is practically turned inside out. Patients notice the effects in their private lives, where they are looked at, smiled at more, where they enjoy greater attention. These positive effects also stretch to their professional lives, with studies proving that there is a great distinction between full-haired and bald men when it comes to career opportunities and success. 

Is internet a way for patients to learn more about hair transplantation? Should patients use internet to find out more about hair transplantation? 

There are a number of advantages to be gained by patients consulting internet on the subject of hair transplantation, techniques and hair surgeons. I repeatedly find that patients who have found me via internet are generally already well-informed, often having a good stock of basic and - to a certain extent - specialist knowledge. 

They know all about the different extraction methods, transplantation techniques and who the best doctors are. They know who I am and know exactly what I do and what skills I have. Such patients want to hear my opinion, want to discuss with me their personal situation with regard to hair transplantation. In many case they already have their own ideas, sometimes very concrete. This makes consultation and treatment a lot easier, as quite a few details are already known. 

But there are also cases where all this represents a challenge, as such patients often have very difficult and complex questions, meaning that discussions go a lot deeper.

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