Cosmetic surgery and hair transplants in Bangkok

Many of the physicians offering cosmetic surgery procedures in Bangkok are either of poor professional qualification, or they are concerned with making maximal profits to an extent where it negatively affects the quality of their work. It is my definite opinion that a cosmetic surgeon should like his profession, and not just view it as the fastest route to a great income. Because character-deficient physicians are plenty in Bangkok, it would be harder to make a list of the outfits that I consider poor choices (because there are so many), rather than make a few recommendations. So, in this case, and contrary to my style on other topics, here indeed some recommendations. My favorite plastic surgeon in Bangkok is Dr. Pramote Manurangse who operates at the Yanhee Hospital. Yanhee Hospital is the largest cosmetic surgery hospital in Thailand, and it is rather famous among Thais.

In general, I also think that it is the venue to be preferred by foreigners, even though Yanhee does have the impolite habit of charging foreigners a higher price than Thai patients. But at least they have price lists for Thais and foreigners, and don’t assess foreigner prices by looking at a person and then calculating how much he might be willing to lose.

I consider Dr. Pramote Manurangse the best option in town for foreign patients because he is prepared to discuss operations with a potential patient, and to even advice against them if he feels that the potential patient has exaggerated expectations.

He is also willing to listen to what a patient wants. Consultations are free of charge, and I never had the feeling that he was under time pressure. A further aspect speaks in his favor: Because of the small but cruel risk of anesthesia awareness, I prefer cosmetic surgery under local anesthesia, not full anesthesia (even though many physicians prefer patients fully anesthetized, as they are then easier to handle). Dr. Pramote Manurangse has always been willing to do even major cosmetic surgery like facelifts and a minor tummy tuck under local anesthesia, which is possible as cosmetic procedures are primarily superficial, in which case local anesthesia works well.

I also had two hair transplantations done at Yanhee, through Dr. Prasert Seesillapachai. While hair transplantations are rather time-consuming, the do not require as stringently controlled operating rooms as do facelifts. For this reason, the hair transplantation clinic of Dr. Viroj Vong, which is not located inside a hospital, has been a viable option from my initial research onward, and I now recommend Dr. Viroj Vong as first choice for hair transplants anywhere in Southeast Asia, not just Bangkok or Thailand. His website is hair-hair-hair.com, and his email address is info@hair-hair-hair.com

See here for another article I wrote on hair transplants.

I consider hair transplants the most important cosmetic procedure for all men except those with a full head of hair.

In absolutely all cultures of the world, partial baldness is associated with advanced age. Being seen as old is not healthy, in a very literal way. To an enormous extend, our health depends on our immune system. A healthy immune system can prevent cancer, lower the risk of heart attacks, and keep all sorts of infections at bay.

But don’t get me wrong: we still need modern medicine, need antibiotics and vaccinations. But yes, for overall general health, a strong immune system is essential.

Now what, you may ask, does a healthy immune system have to do with hair transplants? The answer is: more than you suspected.

Because the immune system, like every physiological system, does not function alone. And there is a strong link between the psychological system and the immune system.

A common perception is that feeling young is being young. But that is only half of the truth, or a quarter, or just 10 percent of it.

Because we perceive ourselves as young not because we are still capable of running marathons. We perceive ourselves as young because our environment perceives us as young. So, if our environments perceives us as 19, even though we are just 15, we feel like 19. And if our environment perceives us as 35, even though we have a calender age of 55, something magical happens to our health because our immune system tunes itself up to a younger age.

You can forget vitamins and omega 3 and all the other nonsense touted as immune system support. If you are a candidate for it, get yourself a hair transplant and look substantially younger and let your immune system respond to the fact that your environment thinks you are younger.

Where? In Bangkok. And I would suggest Dr. Viroj Vong.

Here is why. To the best of my knowledge, Dr. Viroj Vong is the only hair transplant surgeon who does FUE procedures, and has experience with it (careful: some backyard clinics may now offer FUE).

I do not have to explain here what FUE transplants are, as there are many other sites that do. But I want to continue relating my personal experience.

The initial two procedures at Yanhee were strip transplantations. This means that a strip of haired skin was cut of the back of the head, then the follicles were extracted and transplanted into the recipient area. I ended up with a large wound at the back of my head, and substantial discomfort for a week at least.

FUEs are more work for the surgeon and his assistants but a superior technology, and minimal discomfort for the patient.

And you can go from almost bald to a Jimi Hendrix head if so inclined.

Because with FUEs you can transplant facial or body hair to the top of the head. And usually, the balder the head, the denser the hair growth on the chest and in the face. Do FUEs step by step, and you can have any amount of hair you wish for, on your head.

The Yanhee hair clinic isn’t interested in the procedure. You need more sophisticated instruments, and most of all, more nurses.

Dr. Viroj Vong specialises on FUEs, and indeed, if you undergo a FUE at his clinic, it’s about 10 people working on you. And on the day of the procedure, the whole clinic will likely work on you only. A gratifying experience, this too.

Both Dr. Prasert Seesillapachai at Yanhee Hospital and Dr. Viroj Vong were willing to do a transplantation of just 500 hair at a time and at both venues, the price was 80 baht per graft for strip transplantations, with no difference made between Thai nationals and foreigners. FUEs are typically quoted at 50 percent more, even at clinics who do not do them and then sell a strip procedure.

While Dr. Viroj Vong and Yanhee were willing to do just 500 grafts, all other hair transplant clinics in Bangkok imposed a minimum charge that was equivalent to 1000 or more grafts.

While such a policy is understandable, it is not to the advantage of the patient. In some cases, 500 grafts is all that is needed, for example to cover scars.

I have had four hair transplants made in Bangkok, one strip for 1000 grafts and the previously cited follow up strip of 500 grafts.

The strip transplant of 1000 grafts was the one cosmetic surgery with the most unpleasant after-effects among all cosmetic surgery procedures I have ever undergone. Not only resulted the initial healing process in discomfort for several days. My face also was terribly swollen from the edema resulting from the initial healing process.

Thus, while hair transplantations of 1000 or more grafts may have a dramatic effect on the appearance of a person, I would discuss with a physician doing this in steps, or do FUEs only.

After the two initial strip transplantations, I went for two FUEs with Dr. Viroj Vong, and the discomfort was minimal.

Practically all plastic surgeons in Bangkok that target the foreign market speak English well. Thus, the level of English spoken isn’t an important criteria. In my opinion, the first criteria should be personal integrity. I would not want a surgeon who has an attitude like a Thai taxi driver, seeing a foreigner first of all as an opportunity to overcharge somebody. However, while physicians in Bangkok clinics who are offering cosmetic surgery procedures typically speak English well, the same is not the case for nurses and administrative staff.

PAI has an English-speaking Thai counter staff, who was rather arrogant when I visited their office (twice). Yanhee, on the other hand, has Philippine nurses and Philippine administrative staff who are all very friendly, and do have time for patients and potential patients.

Dr. Viroj Vong has English-speaking staff, too, but in his case, this is not important because anyway, on all matters, patients deal with him personally. He answers email reliably, and he does so himself, and the same goes for phone calls. His English is perfect.

References:

1

Rohrich, Rod J. M.D.; Pessa, Joel E. M.D., The Fat Compartments of the Face: Anatomy and Clinical Implications for Cosmetic Surgery, Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, June 2007 – Volume 119 – Issue 7 – pp 2219-2227

2

Roberta J. Honigman, B.Comm., B.Soc.Work., A.A.S.W., Katharine A. Phillips, M.D., and David J. Castle, M.Sc., M.D., M.R.C.Psych., F.R.A.N.Z.C.P., A Review of Psychosocial Outcomes for Patients Seeking Cosmetic Surgery, Plast Reconstr Surg. 2004 Apr 1; 113(4): 1229-1237.

3

David B Sarwer, Thomas A Wadden, Michael J Pertschuk, Linton A Whitaker
The Psychology of Cosmetic Surgery: A Review and Reconceptualization, Clinical Psychology Review, Volume 18, Issue 1, January 1998, Pages 1-22