Episode 7:
The Cost of Hair Restoration

cost-of-hair-restoration

The following is a transcript of Episode 7 of the Hair Restoration With Dr. Daniel A. Danyo podcast.

All episodes of the podcast can be found at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, and Spotify.

Dr. Danyo: And I see a lot of people that are in life transformation anyway. They’ve had divorces recently, you know, death of a spouse, you know, major things have happened in their life, or they’re, kind of, in that middle part of their life where they don’t wanna get old and they wanna stay young. And you know, hair transplantation and restoration with some of the other medical management that we do can really be that linchpin.

Clark: That was the voice of Daniel A. Danyo, MD, founder, and physician at North Atlanta Hair Restoration. They’re a boutique medical practice solely dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of male and female hair loss. You’re listening to “Hair Restoration with Dr. Daniel A. Danyo.” I’m your host Clark and all season long, we’re speaking with Dr. Danyo about how he and his team at North Atlanta Hair Restoration are helping his patients transform their everyday lives for the better. In this episode, Dr. Danyo walks us through the most common questions he gets about pricing. We discuss topics like ROI and differentiation of Dr. Danyo’s services. And we also discuss what you, the patient, should consider as you’re exploring hair restoration options for your life. There’s a lot to cover. So, let’s jump right in. Dr. Danyo, how are you doing?

Dr. Danyo: I’m doing great. How about you?

Clark: I’m pumped to be back on the line with you. We’ve got a really big topic today, and it’s actually probably not surprising, one of the most visited pages on your website, it’s one of the first things someone’s gonna want to know about, you know, going through a procedure like this, working with you, and that topic is pricing.

Dr. Danyo: Pricing, yes.

Clark: This is a big question. You know, this is gonna be a good conversation where I’ve got some things… I’ve been curious. I personally, I’ve not talked to you about pricing on any of our episodes yet. I’ve been learning a ton and I know this has been received well so far with, you know, some of the clients and you’ve actually…you know, you started working with some new clients from this podcast, which is so cool.

Dr. Danyo: Yes.

Clark: But one of the things I’ve been wanting to know about is pricing. And I’ve been a little shy, even like, I feel like anytime we talk about money, it can feel a little bit weird. I don’t know. Does that make sense?

Dr. Danyo: It can be a little distant. In my practice, I generally shy away from pricing because we have Becky who’s our patient coordinator who really, kinda, takes care of the pricing, but I’m happy to talk about pricing in the context of what’s going on in the marketplace and why we have chosen our pricing to make it feasible for people and really make it happen. And I think that’s key.

Clark: Excellent. So, when we think about pricing, I would say there’s maybe two or three key things that we’re all exploring. And so, we’re, of course, thinking about, “Is there an ROI here?” And we’re also thinking like, “You know, is this a good investment? Is this… You know, why you, why should we pay you to do this?” and how you differentiate. So, which one of those you wanna start with?

Dr. Danyo: Well, let’s talk about return on investment. You know, if you look at somebody buying a car, you buy a new car, the ROI, the return on investment is based on your enjoyment of the car, but financially, it’s not a great investment in that, that car, when you drive it off the lot is gonna depreciate because now it becomes a used car. And if you went ahead and wanted to resell it, you wouldn’t be able to sell it at full price. So, that’s, kind of, the depreciating return on investment. And hair transplant is different in that it’s not a depreciating type thing. It’s actually more of an appreciating thing. Once you get it done, the effects should be relatively permanent. And I say relatively because age can come in and you can have some thinning as you age say 20-plus years after the transplant. But it’s appreciating in that it really has a positive benefit on your looks, on your health in that investment lasts over time, much longer than, say the value of a car.

Clark: This might be a silly question, but once you get this procedure completed, does it have a shelf life? I don’t know. Or is it a permanent… Like, how do you normally measure that? Is it different by each person?

Dr. Danyo: It can be. I say relatively permanent because any tissue is subjected to age, but the hair that we’re moving is deemed permanent in that these hairs don’t have dihydrotestosterone receptors or DHT receptors. So, they’re not subjected to the onslaught of hair loss associated, say, with male pattern hair loss, which is our most common diagnosis because the hair on the top of the head has DHT receptors and that causes progressive thinning and eventual dying out of the hairs. So, when you move a follicle that does not have a DHT receptor, even though it’s going into an area that had, you know, balding, it keeps its cellular code. And so, it is not subjected to hair loss as it was on the side or back of the head.

Clark: That’s encouraging.

Dr. Danyo: Yes.

Clark: Once you’ve got it, it’s…you know, this is something that…this isn’t just getting a, you know, a temporary make-over or something. This is a permanent thing.

Dr. Danyo: Sure. Now, as far as pricing goes, I mean, pricing can be all over the board. In Atlanta, there are billboards that say $2 a graft, but there’s a, kind of, a fine print that says after 1,000 grafts and that’s a little bit misleading because I have a lot of patients that call up and say, “Can you do hair transplant for $2 a graft?” And that’s just something that we can’t do financially just based on our cost structure. And we would be essentially doing cases for free, you know, if it was $2 a graft. But the practice that does $2 a graft has some up charging and other things that make it more expensive and profitable for them, but, kinda, misleading on the other hand.

Clark: Right. So, a graft… This is good context. If someone is just jumping into this particular episode, they maybe have not heard some of our other conversations. So, you’re, you know, you, not a salesperson or like a, you know, a technician, or someone, someone else that’s other than you, you handle this from start to finish and you’re actually handcrafting each of these grafts, right?

Dr. Danyo: Yes. And they can be between one and four hairs.

Clark: Per graft?

Dr. Danyo: Per graft.

Clark: Oh, I did not know that. You said pricing can be across the board, but that would also be influenced by how many grafts someone might need. Sometimes it’s higher, sometimes that’s lower. Is there an average that you will sometimes ballpark just as we’re, kinda, talking numbers as we go through this?

Dr. Danyo: I’d say the national average is somewhere around $5 a graft for follicular unit extraction. Possibly, in some areas, say, outside of a metropolitan area, it may be $4 a graft. If you go to Los Angeles and New York City, it could be as high as $8 a graft. So…

Clark: And how many grafts…what’s a ballpark of maybe how many grafts a patient may need for it to be a success procedure?

Dr. Danyo: Yeah. So, if we do a frontal hairline, I generally will tell people that 1500 grafts will basically fill up about three quarters to an inch across the hairline. Then we add, you know, 500 grafts if we need to backfill or add, you know, a significant amount into the middle. And then we keep adding grafts if there’s more need for hair behind that. And specifically, if people need hair in the crown area, which is the top back portion of the head, that can be 2,000 grafts or even more to get coverage. So, it definitely becomes a numbers game. And when I talk with people, I really ask them to prioritize what their needs are. And we come up with, kinda, short-term and long-term goals. And oftentimes, you know, try and talk them down on getting…you know, wanting that absolute full coverage and maybe we settle on just focusing on the hairline in, kinda, the middle scalp which is really, kind of, a timeless hair transplant and maybe not focus on the crown. In other people, they’ve got financial means and they’ve got also, you know, in their mind, they’re set, “I want my whole head covered.” And I have a couple patients right now where our goal is actually about 8,000 grafts where we’re getting it from the back of their head, from their beard, from their chest. But they’re, you know, possibly in a different position than other people. So, people need to really figure out where they are financially, what their needs are and, kinda, focus.

Clark: Right. Just like a procedure, you’re doing with someone, no procedure is gonna be the same across the board, right?

Dr. Danyo: Correct. And that’s where differentiation comes in. I occasionally get patients that will fight me on price. And you know, I just say if price is your differentiating factor in who you’re gonna choose, I may not be the right person, but if you’re looking for a physician actually doing all of the extractions and placing all the hairs, possibly, you know, increasing the price to do a Shave-Less procedure where we don’t have to shave your head and also you want follicular unit extraction and not a strip or FUT procedure, then if you’re looking for that, you know, physician approach, you know, what I just discussed, maybe paying a little bit more is worth it to you. And, you know, my price, you know, I’ll give it right now, is $4.50 for a shave procedure per graft and $5.50, that’s $5 and 50 cents for a Shave-Less procedure which is just 50 cents more than really, kinda, the national average. So, I think we’re giving a very differentiated product, one that is really not even found…maybe a couple of doctors do what I do, especially on the Shave-Less side.

Clark: The Shave-Less FUE is a big deal. And we’ve… You know, this is my…I’m a newcomer to all of this. I’ve been learning a ton with you, but we’ve had previous episodes all about Shave-Less FUE. And so, again, in case someone has just now…this is the first episode they’re listening to, as we’re talking about differentiation, could you just touch on what Shave-Less FUE is and why it matters?

Dr. Danyo: Sure. Well, Shave-Less means that we don’t have to shave the back of your donor site and that we extract the hair, but leave the other hair that we don’t extract long. And we do it very precisely. I mean, it’s pretty much the extracted hair short and the rest of the hair is left intact. So, people leave even after having 2,500 grafts from their donor site leaving as if they had nothing done. And it allows people to go back into the work and social settings quickly. And that’s something that I’ve worked on for the last seven years. And I’ve had a passion because I know after undergoing two hair transplants, that concealment is key. And even though it’s tough, it’s something if you work at it, it becomes routine. And we’ve made it routine enough so that our price to do a Shave-Less procedure is just $1 more a graft. And it’s not like other places where I’ve heard that their charge is even double for doing a Shave-Less procedure. And we can do it really in a timely fashion. And there’s no difference in the quality of grafting that’s completed.

Clark: Let’s continue talking a little about the ROI aspects. And it is an interesting concept I think buying, you know, buying this and acquiring this for yourself. You know, it’s a lifetime…you know, it’s not a temporary procedure. How does this measure up to other, you know, cosmetic surgeries or other, kind of, enhancements that people may do in their lifetime? I know you are laser-focused on just this. You don’t do other things, you’re a total specialist on hair transplantation, but I’m sure you have friends who do cosmetic surgery or you know other doctors, other similar spaces. How did they approach this, kind of, pricing and differentiation and whatnot?

Dr. Danyo: Well, I think they look at the markets. They look at what people are willing to pay and what, you know, competitors are charging. And they also look at their differentiation in the marketplace. Obviously, if they’re doing something that’s very unique and expertise focused, they can charge more and people are willing to pay that. And I think that’s, kinda, where we are in the marketplace, but if you look at the amount of money that’s spent on Botox and fillers, you know, some skin resurfacing, especially Botox and fillers, those are extremely temporary type things. And they don’t have the permanency of hair transplant or breast augmentation, facelifts, things that are focused on cosmetic surgery. But a lot of money is spent on these temporary things like Botox and fillers.

So, price in the cosmetic world is relative, and I also think it’s true for hair transplant to a certain extent. I find pricing wise… When we start getting up over…and you can do the math, whether it’s $5…or $5.50 a graft for 2,000 grafts, you can do the math, I mean, that gets you a little over $10,000. That seems to be a sticking price for a lot of patients that it’s tough to go above that and to make that return on investment really work in their mind. So, we do work with patients that have really high numbers of grafts to work in their budget because that dollar point, I’ve seen it patient after patient is a real sticking point whether they’ll do it or not. And we obviously, don’t want price to be a barrier for people. We still wanna provide a great service and include as many people as we can.

Clark: Certainly. How else do you find… When someone’s exploring something like this, there’s, of course… You know, this is not going anywhere. Once you get this, this is unlike, you know, what you were saying with like Botox or fillers. This is something that’s permanent, but when you think about ROI, and this might be impossible to put a number on, but I know, of course, we’ve talked before, you know, the confidence, one might…you know, the self-image that someone might have afterwards. I wonder if…I don’t wanna speculate, but, you know, perhaps, there’s benefits. I don’t know if that turns into, you know, more confidence might help you do better work or… I don’t know. Again, we can’t guarantee any of that kinda stuff, but it just makes me think though, if someone does this, it’s probably not just for looks. They can probably use this…you know, the confidence boost that they get, it’s probably gonna have a ripple effect impact.

Dr. Danyo: Sure. And there’s research supporting that when hair transplant is done significantly and I’ve seen it as well on my patients, that there can be a life transformation. I’ve had patients that didn’t work out, weren’t really conscientious of their diet, that they come back at six months and they’re lean and mean, and there’s an attitude change. And really the hair they’ve said was, kind of, a real fulcrum for them to get going in life and change. And I see a lot of people that are in life transformation anyway. They’ve had divorces recently, you know, death of a spouse, you know, major things have happened in their life, or they’re, kind of, in that middle part of their life where they don’t wanna get old and they wanna stay young and, you know, hair transplantation and restoration with some of the other medical management that we do can really be that linchpin to, you know, to get going with living a healthy lifestyle and, and becoming young again.

Clark: Right, yeah. That’s a great point. I was thinking more along the lines of work, maybe performing better at work or, you know, feeling more confident, but you’re making a connection to, “Hey, this is your…” You know, you’ve seen, based on your experience, you’ve seen people find the confidence to want to feel better from a health standpoint. And that’s probably gonna lead to savings. I would imagine if you’re healthier, you know, that…

Dr. Danyo: But I think it also translates into confidence at work and just confidence in general because, you know, hair loss can be psychologically purging and devastating. There’s no question about it.

Clark: Right. So, as we’re starting to round things out here, I’m curious if there’s anything else that you’ve learned either from your discussions with folks, you know, you shared some pricing numbers where, you know, your 2,000 grafts at $5.50, you know, that’s a little over $10,000, and that might be the threshold that, you know, someone may or may not wanna proceed if you get much higher than that. I know you’re flexible on pricing and making it work, but what else have you learned along the way from feedback or anything else that are common questions that people are thinking about, what else comes to your mind?

Dr. Danyo: I think the biggest thing is differentiation. And people choose us because we’re different. We have excellent reviews online. We have great stories of what people went through sometimes after having hair transplant before and then comparing it to what they had here. And so, when I talk with a patient that’s really hesitant on pricing, the last thing I’m gonna do is sell something. I’m not a salesman at all. And I always tell patients, “I’m here to help you.” This is a process and we don’t necessarily have to do everything at once. We can break it up to make it more financially feasible. We have financing options as well with Care Credit, Lending Club, Prosper, and Green Sky that maybe they can help fund portions of the procedure, possibly all with minimal hit on your credit to get a preapproval and minimal interest and no prepayment penalty. So, those are all things that, kinda, go into it. But I think really it’s a differentiation and making it so that people have value in what they’re purchasing and knowing that they’re gonna have great results in the end.

Clark: If someone does have pricing as the number one decision process they’re following, not to scare anyone, but if someone… You know, you have…what I like about what you shared with me is how you are in every step from the very beginning to the very end. You’re not handing someone off, just, you know, just trying to farm out this work to, you know, make a better margin. You know, your pricing is what it is because of you doing this craft that’s taken so long to learn, especially with something like the Shave-Less FUE. But if someone does go with someone who is gonna be cheaper, you said you just now shared that you’ve seen people come in who’ve had you and maybe worked with other people somewhere else in the world. What, you know, what’s that risk if they go with someone who is maybe cheaper? Like, generally speaking, how is that experience differentiated?

Dr. Danyo: Sure. Well, cheaper is not always better, especially as it relates to hair transplant. I’ve had patients that have gone overseas and paid minimal, you know, to get it done, but have had complications and have had poor growth, but then I’ve seen people that have done pretty well. But again, there’s not a connection when you go overseas as there would be, you know, with a physician here in the States or locally. The other is that oftentimes when the price is low, there’s an issue with the physician not being involved as they should. And it’s technician driven. And it can be a problem as far as getting what you’re paying for, as far as the graft counts or getting the results that you paid for. So, there’s always a risk if you pay less that you won’t get what you want both short-term and long-term, and the procedure may be more complicated and more painful both during and immediately after the procedure.

So, these are steps that since I’m in any…every case, and I do every graft, both on the extraction and placement side, I do all the anesthesia, and I look at each procedure as a learning experience, I have over a thousand procedures under my belt where I have fine-tuned this whole process to make it both comfortable and effective. And so, when I have somebody that’s really concerned about our pricing and feeling that we’re too high, I just say, “Listen. I think you’re at a point where you need to see multiple consults. You need to figure out what they have to offer, you know, dig into their pricing, but make sure that you question who’s involved in the case, who’s actually doing it, and then once you’ve done that kind of research and you wanna have a discussion back with us, I’d be happy to help.” And I just leave it very open like that. The good news is that I am extremely busy. I feel like we have fair pricing. We have an excellent product. And I’m not in a position nor would I ever wanna be, to talk anybody into anything. I am here to provide a service and not a sales job.

Clark: Right. I love that approach. And I know you’re sharing the risk. If someone goes, you know, overseas or maybe they go with someone who the work gets farmed out to a technician, there’s other risks and other things that can come up. With, you know, your pricing, you know, you’re not gonna be the cheapest. I mean, you’re pricing for a reason. If for some reason someone needs to come back in, or how often does that happen if…you know, a guarantee on the service basically of seeing it through not only start to finish, but if for any reason there are things…. I know you always do follow-ups, and you’ve shared in the past some of the transformations you’ve seen in someone’s spirit when they come back in, just the change and how they are, but when they come back in, and maybe they have… I don’t know. How often does that happen and what does that look like?

Dr. Danyo: I get that question asked a lot, is there a guarantee? And there’s generally not a guarantee in any surgery because there’s not a guarantee of how you’re gonna heal and how your body’s gonna react, but I don’t have patients that are unhappy with me because I follow up with them. If somebody is unhappy, we do things to make them happy, whether we do some platelet-rich plasma injection therapy to thicken things up or possibly add on to what was done before, oftentimes at minimal to no cost. And sometimes we create a hairline and they’re really happy, but they’re like, “There’s this one little part I wish I had, you know, a little extra here or it was a little softer,” and obviously, we correct all that.

So the good news is that we are using all safe practices. And since I’m totally involved, and I’m seeing these grafts and how they’re handled and how they come out and go in… The research states that if you do things right, I mean, the graft take should be 95% or greater. So, we’re doing everything in our power. We’re keeping up with the latest research, the latest products. I’ve been through six or seven different devices to really get the best grafts that I know at this time. And so, I really think our patients are positioned to get great results. And so, I don’t have a guarantee issue, but obviously, if there are little things that need to be fixed, we’ll fix them. But it involves also active participation with follow-ups and care after the procedure to make that all happen.

Clark: Excellent. This has been really informative. This is a conversation I’ve been excited to have, and I learned a lot. Anything you wanna leave us with?

Dr. Danyo: I think we’ve pretty much touched it. If anyone is looking for hair transplant and they’re, kind of, in their exploratory phase, my suggestion is to get multiple consultations, get a general sense of what a good office is, and possibly a bad office, what’s the sales technique, and what’s the physician-based, you know, more medical approach like we offer, look at the differences. And then I think you can, kinda, solidify what is appropriate to invest in hair restoration, whether it’s hair transplantation or medical management. And then I think that will settle your mind and make things much easier.

Clark: Fantastic. Dr. Danyo, as always, thanks so much.

Dr. Danyo: Thank you, Clark.

Clark: Thanks for listening to “Hair Restoration with Dr. Daniel A. Danyo.” You can book your free consultation today with Dr. Danyo by simply calling 678-845-7521 or online at nahairrestoration.com. And be sure to subscribe, rate, and review this podcast wherever you listen to your audio content.