ABHRS/IBHRS Code of Ethics Policy Statement

WHEREAS, the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery (ABHRS) is a surgical certifying board organized to examine physicians in the area of hair restoration surgery; and

WHEREAS, the ABHRS is a surgical certifying board organized to promote the safe practice of hair restoration surgery;

NOW, THEREFORE, the ABHRS has established the following policy: As a Diplomate of the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery, I pledge myself to…

  1. Use every opportunity to improve public understanding of the role of the Hair Restoration Surgeon.
  2. Cooperate in every reasonable and proper way with other physicians and work with them in activities contributing to the advancement of quality patient care.
  3. Maintain the confidentiality of privileged information entrusted or known to me by virtue of my role as a hair restoration surgeon within the constraints of the law.
  4. Accept no personal compensation from any party that would influence or require special consideration in the provision of care to any patient.
  5. Provide patient care impartially, provide no special privilege to any individual patient based on the patient’s race, color, creed, sex, national origin or handicap.
  6. Use only legal and ethical means in the provision of care to my patients and strive to expose those physicians deficient in character or competence, or who engage in fraud or deception.
  7. Maintain the highest standard of personal conduct.
  8. Abide by the highest ethical standards in activities designed to attract patients to my practice including recognition and enforcement of the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery advertising policy which requires Diplomate status should not be embellished, to utilize truthful advertising, and to designate my ABHRS membership as ABHRS Diplomate as opposed to “Board Certified” by the ABHRS.
  9. Maintain loyalty to the goals and objectives of the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery as stated in the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery By-Laws.
  10. Promote and encourage the highest level of medical ethics in providing competent medical service with compassion and respect for human dignity.
  11. Recognize and discharge my responsibility and that of the Medical and/or Osteopathic profession to uphold the laws and regulations relating to the practice of hair restoration surgery.
  12. Strive for excellence in all aspects of medical practice.
  13. Continue to study, apply and advance scientific knowledge, make relevant information available to patients, colleagues and the public, obtain consultation, and use the talents of other health professionals when the best interests of a patient so indicates.

The ABHRS Guidelines For Truth in Representation And Advertising have been established to help members avoid what can be universally considered as misleading or unacceptable messages.

We have encouraged ABHRS/IBHRS members to review their individual as well as group practice websites and marketing materials to assure that misleading or ambiguous language as defined in the following infractions are not included. Members of the public who are seeking professional services from a hair restoration surgeon should consider these terms as “red flags”. If they are used in a doctor’s marketing material or website, the consumer should beware.

The following issues/concepts are considered misleading or inappropriate:

  • Including inaccurate credentials. E.g., claiming ABHRS (American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery) Diplomate status or IBHRS (International Board of Hair Restoration Surgery) status when the individual has not earned this designation, or claiming inaccurate expertise in hair restoration surgery in general.
  • The use of other physicians’ before & after photos as their own.
  • Violating the copyright of others with the illegal use of photos or text.
  • Ambiguous use of the ABHRS Logo which implies non-ABHRS/IBHRS diplomates are also diplomates.

Inappropriate Use of Staff

Specifically, the surgical act of creating extraction incisions for removal of live tissue, whether during follicular unit transplantation (FUT), or follicular unit extraction (FUE) procedures, is a non-delegable act, and must be performed by the physician of record. In addition, the creation of incisions for placement of grafts is also non-delegable, and must be performed by the physician of record. Evidence of unlicensed, non-physicians performing surgical procedures clearly outside of legally enforceable standards of care is in clear violation of ABHRS ethical guidelines.

Inappropriate, Misleading, Inaccurate Terminology

The use of the following, or similar terminology that misrepresents the physical realities of high quality hair transplant surgery:

  • “Scarless surgery”
  • “No incision”
  • “No touch”
  • “No cutting”
  • “Cloning”
  • “Hair multiplication”
  • “Non-invasive”
  • “Guaranteed results”
  • “Unlimited grafts”
  • “No risk”
  • “Pain free”
  • “Eliminates the need for additional procedures”

Diplomates of the ABHRS must display their ABHRS Logo on websites and marketing materials in an unambiguous manner that does not imply ABHRS certification of other, non-ABHRS-affiliated hair transplant surgeons with whom they may be in practice. This is clearly outlined in the ABHRS Truth in Representation and Advertising document.

Involvement in Hair Transplant Surgery Certification Boards

The ABHRS maintains the position that it’s BOD members, Executive Committee Officers, oral examiners and committee members of the ABHRS should not contemporaneously serve on any similar hair restoration certification boards as a BOD member, Executive Committee Officer, oral examiner or committee member, lest the appearance of impropriety with respect to, amongst other things, access to those other board’s policies, procedures and other proprietary information be present and potentially represent a condition that would interfere with carrying out ABHRS responsibilities in good faith.

Breach of this standard represents a clear conflict of interest and a violation of ABHRS ethical guidelines. Therefore, it is incumbent upon and required that every applicant to the ABHRS and every ABHRS diplomate, officer, and committee member discloses to the ABHRS office any such current membership or role as a BOD member, Executive Committee Officer, oral examiner and/or committee member of any competing or similar hair restoration certification board or any planned participation in any of those functional roles of any competing or similar hair restoration certification board.

ABHRS/IBHRS Diplomates are free agents and may join any certifying board(s). Past or current board of directors, executive committee members, members of oral or written examination committees, and other committee members, however, have a higher standard of fiduciary duty to the ABHRS/IBHRS. Such members must receive approval from the Executive Committee and Board of Directors, and such consent will not be reasonably denied, before applying to obtain certification from other board(s) of hair restoration surgery.

For more on ethical messaging visit the ISHRS.org