We know how hopes can rise when we see adverts of ‘new’ hair loss treatments that promise great results.  Recently one of our Facebook Group members, Sarah* contacted us to let us know about a negative experience she has had with a clinic for hair loss. We hope that our advice and tips below ensure that nobody has the same stressful experience that Sarah has experienced.

Sarah’s Story

“I had my first consultation in November 2019. I told the consultant about my background with hair loss. I had struggled to get a conclusive diagnosis of the type of hair loss I was experiencing from several doctors so turned to this clinic.

The clinic consultant offered me a treatment that was a mixture of Minoxidil and low-level laser therapy. I was told the treatment would be ‘100% successful’ and had ‘never not worked’.  I paid £2,000 for 6 months of treatment and it was explained to me that I would get a full refund if a 30% increase in regrowth was not achieved.

To keep a long story short, as I was actually convinced to persevere with treatments for over 18 months, the treatment was unsuccessful and the clinic was unwilling to provide me with the refund they had promised. I was advised by Citizens Advice to send three letters to the company asking for an amicable resolution before pursuing court. I received a letter to my first letter confirming that they would not provide a refund and my second two letters were ignored.

I raised a case with my credit card company and, thankfully, after their legal team reviewed the text messages between myself and the clinic, photographs and the signed agreement mentioning the refund if no results, I was awarded a full refund from the credit card company. I consider myself very lucky that I have not been left out of pocket and I wanted to speak out to try to ensure nobody else has the same experience. It was not only stressful dealing with a clinic that promised me results and essentially strung me along for 18 months with false promises, but it was very upsetting to have to battle for a refund that was promised to me.”

‘Guaranteed Results’ ‘100% effective’ – A Red Flag!

We want people to learn from Sarah’s experience. The first thing to note is that unfortunately there are no treatments for any type of hair loss that are guaranteed to work. Not one. Any claims of ‘guaranteed results’ relating to hair loss treatments should be viewed as a red flag. Nobody should be making claims of guaranteed results with hair loss treatments of any kind for any type of alopecia.

But do not take our word for it. Leading alopecia specialist, Dr Matthew Harries states:

“Accurate diagnosis is vital in the treatment of hair loss to understand the likely prognosis of the alopecia and identify appropriate treatment strategies. Further, no treatment is 100% effective, and people should be cautious if claims appear ‘too good to be true’.”

Important considerations when looking for help with alopecia diagnosis and treatments

We recommend that you consider the following:

  1. In the first instance, we recommend you visit your GP for advice about your hair loss. If they are unable to help, ask for a referral to see a dermatologist.
  2. In the event of a waiting time to see a NHS dermatologist being very long, some people prefer to make an appointment with a private dermatologist. Please note that it is unlikely that a private dermatologist will be able to offer any different advice or treatment to a NHS dermatologist. We say this to manage expectations. Some feel it is worth paying for the private consultation so they don’t have to face long waiting times. Others feel money is wasted when they realise the offering is the same as what they would have got from a NHS dermatologist.
  3. If choosing to see a trichologist, be sure to check out their qualifications and accreditations. It is advisable to check for qualifications such as being on The Institute of Trichologists register, which has its own Code of Practice.
  4. Be very wary of any companies or products offering ‘guaranteed results’ for alopecia. There are no treatments that are guaranteed to work for any type of hair loss. Any clinic, consultant or specialist should be clear when offering treatments that what might work for one patient might not have the same results for another. Expectations should be managed and bold claims of ‘guaranteed results’ should be treated with a great deal of caution.
  5. Look at external review sites, such as Trustpilot, not just reviews on the company’s own website. Ensure you read any 1 and 2 star reviews that might exist in case there are consistencies in the negative reviews.
  6. If you feel pressured in any way, or something just doesn’t feel right for any reason, step away and give yourself time to think before parting with any money. Sadly we hear from people who regret spending money on treatments and products that they wished they’d researched more thoroughly.

To avoid any potential legal problems for our small charity, we have stopped short of naming the particular company that Sarah has brought to our attention. We hope we have provided sufficient information and advice so that anyone reading this does not have the same experience.

Thank you to Sarah for coming forward and sharing her experience with us.

*Name changed for anonymity.