“My best work goes unnoticed. And that’s what you want. When you’re restoring someone’s hairline, you don’t want it to be noticed.”
Dr. Angie Phipps’ hair restoration work may fly under the radar, but she’s become a bit of a celebrity thanks to TLC’s “Bad Hair Day.” The 2022 TV show follows Dr. Phipps as she takes a few patients struggling with difficult hair loss cases through a transformative hair restoration journey.
Dr. Angie Phipps works as a hair restoration surgeon in Raleigh, where she lives with her husband and children. She’s worked at Bosley for 14 years and still finds her work rewarding.
We sat down to chat with Angie about her career, her hair restoration approach, and a few patients she’ll never forget.
WHY A CAREER IN HAIR RESTORATION?
Dr. Phipps’ interest in the specialty of hair transplantation started with her father and his own hair loss struggles. Growing up, her father always covered up his balding with a hairpiece – and even from a young age, Angie picked up on how much his hair loss affected him. “Initially, my interest was because of the dramatic change hair loss gave to my dad’s appearance and his self-confidence. I thought, I want to help people like my dad feel better about themselves.”
But over time, Dr. Phipps came to realize hair restoration was an even better career fit than she could have imagined. “It satisfies all the things that I’m looking to fulfill in a career – it feeds the artistic component of my personality that drives me to be creative, it fulfills the surgical aspect, and it fulfills the aspect of community, knowing that I’m helping people.”
DR PHIPP’S APPROACH TO HAIR RESTORATION
Dr. Phipps has found that, unlike other areas of medicine, hair restoration really is an art form, one that must be tailored to each individual patient. While determining the underlying medical cause and executing the surgical procedure accurately is crucial, the most important aspect is “having the ability to direct these hairs to grow in the right direction, angle, and orientation to give a patient the best cosmetic result.”
To Dr. Phipps, that’s a major difference in how Bosley approaches hair restoration compared to other practices. “Bosley prides itself on their physicians, on how we understand the anatomy, the physiology, and the angles of how hairs grow versus just going in and saying, ‘Oh, let’s put some hair on somebody’s head and they’ll be happy.’”
The angle and direction of hair growth isn’t the only factor Dr. Phipps takes into account – other factors such as ethnicity and even gender can impact how she approaches restoring a patient’s hair. “African American hair density is vastly different from Caucasian hair density. While curly African American hair may appear more dense, the actual density of hair follicles is typically less. Normal Caucasian density may be around 80 hair follicles per square centimeter of tissue, while normal African American hair density is 60. I plan for that different number of grafts when performing a hair transplant on an African American patient.”
Dr. Phipps’ appearance on “Bad Hair Day” had one unexpected result: over the last few months, many more women have come to her office for hair transplants, having been previously unaware that transplantation could even be done on women. Dr. Phipps has noticed that not only do men and women tend to struggle with different types of hair loss, but they also tend to have different goals when it comes to hair restoration. “Often, a woman’s goal is to not see her scalp and to have thicker, denser hair. That’s not always a male patient’s goal – a bald man might be happy if he goes from thin hair to some more hair. They’re happy with that improvement.”
No matter the patient’s goals or situation, Dr. Phipps’ says her job is to “bring their expectation into the realm of surgical reality. That has served me really well because patients really develop a sense of trust in me, knowing that I’m not going to do something just to take their money. I want to make sure the patient really understands the process from front to back.”
Here at Bosley, our staff and surgeons are in the business of changing lives every single day. But Dr. Phipps has two patients whose transformations especially stick out.
“I had an overweight patient who couldn’t go to the gym because of all the mirrors. He hated to see his hair loss reflected back so many times. A year after his transplant, we had an emotional reunion. He looked great! He said he’d gone back to the gym feeling more confident, he felt better, he met his fiancée and now they were having a kid.”
Dr. Phipps also had the chance to turn things around for a younger man struggling with premature hair loss. “A year ago, I had a woman come in with her 20-something son. She pulled me aside and said, ‘Doctor Phipps, you’re our last hope. He has severe stress over his appearance.’ And he did have severe hair loss. So I did an FUE procedure on him, and he had a phenomenal result. He even had the confidence to put himself out there and you know, go out to the nightclub for the first time, in his 20s. It’s just totally changed his life, and he now doesn’t think people are looking at him and judging him because he was losing his hair.”
And that positive energy is contagious. When she thinks about all of the people she’s helped get their confidence back, Dr. Phipps says, “It puts a smile on my face. That just makes me so eager to get up and come to work every day.”