My F3 as an Associate Hair Transplant Surgeon
We were recently fortunate to catch up with Dr Hamza Ahmed, a junior doctor who spent his F3 (and beyond) working as a hair transplant surgeon in a clinic in West Yorkshire.
In this interview, Hamza gives insight into why he chose hair transplant surgery as a career option, what a typical day-in-the-life look like, and his plans for the future.
Where are you up to in your medical career?
I studied at Barts and the London Medical School, then did my Foundation Training in the Oxford Deanery, starting August 2017.
After my Foundation Training, I decided to take a break from training and so took an F3 year. I am currently half-way through an F4 year and not looking back!
Why did you consider hair transplant surgery as an option?
I was doing a lot of locum work in the NHS, but wanted to explore other clinical opportunities.
I was sure I didn’t want to step away from patient facing work entirely, but needed work that gave me better balance and be more fulfilling.
In my research I came across hair transplant surgery. It’s not a common path for doctors in the UK, but it seemed interesting. As I have always had a leaning towards surgery, and it seemed like a good opportunity to develop my practical and minor surgical skills in an exciting new environment.
How did you get started?
I came across The Hair Dr Clinic, a clinic in West Yorkshire. I spoke to Dr Arshad and he explained the training he has developed for doctors and the support I’d get in the role and it seemed like a really good fit for me and what I was looking for from my career and my life.
I first started working as a hair transplant surgeon in early 2020, half way through my F3 year.
What are the common procedures that you've done working for The Hair Dr Clinic?
I have been trained on and am performing follicular unit excision (FUE) surgery.
This is a process where each follicle is excised and extracted very carefully from the donor area which is usually at the back of the head. The grafts are then carefully sorted, counted and then inserted back into incisions made in the recipient site.
What is your role in performing these procedures?
To start with I was just observing Dr Arshad work. Over time I then progressed to attempting parts of the procedure with him observing and correcting my technique, then finally doing the whole procedure from start to finish (including administering the local anaesthetic).
It took me a few months to get to this level. Dr Arshad has been an excellent mentor and teacher. If I have any issues or concerns, he’s always there for senior support.
The team consists of myself, Dr Arshad and then plenty of hair technicians. The technicians assist me in the procedure performing important tasks for me such as counting, sorting and lining up grafts. They are all very skilled and are very good at their work.
How does it compare to NHS work? What are the pros and cons?
Working in the private sector is completely different from NHS work. It is generally more relaxed, patients and other staff in the building are very friendly and the key thing is everyone loves what they do, or they would not be doing it! I think this really promotes a healthy working environment.
Seeing the difference you can and have made to patients is also very rewarding and I would definitely say is a perk of the job.
What is a typical day like for you?
Mornings are the busiest - we start early at 7am. There is always time for a quick coffee before work.
First, I assist Dr Arshad with the pre-op consultation and consent. He goes through with the patient what to expect, draws on the hairline and discusses the surgical plan. Then I assist him with taking pre-op photos
Once the patients head has been shaved and scalp prepped and cleaned, we start the procedure. Surgery starts between 7.30am - 8.00am depending on the complexity of the pre-surgical consult.
I do the anaesthetic and prep the donor site, then either Dr Arshad or myself (once I was trained & signed off) will start preparing the grafts. The extraction phase is usually done by lunchtime. It can actually be quite relaxing, we have soft music playing in the background.
The patient will then go for lunch at around 12.30pm, when I check the grafts under the microscope and ensure all is well.
I then anaesthetise the recipient site after the patient’s lunch and Dr Arshad will come in to make the incisions for the grafts to go into. This is usually a good time around 1pm for me to peel off and have a lunch break. Once I have had a lunch break, I return to the op room and we finish off the incisions.
We are usually done operating by around 3pm, after which the technicians then take over the bulk of the work carefully putting the grafts back in. This is a good time for me to catch up on paperwork.
What are your long-term plans? Will you continue with this or return to work in the NHS?
I have no plans to stop! I find it really rewarding and enjoyable, and so will keep going. I still do some NHS work alongside my job with The Hair Dr, which I will keep up too.
This article is part of a wider series, supporting doctors like yourself with a comprehensive set of guides to ensure your F3 year is a success. These guides cover everything from initial planning, options for moving abroad, help with finding work, and tips for making the most of the experience. Click here to visit our F3 Resource Hub to explore the full list of guides and articles.
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