The need for the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery (ABHRS) first surfaced in June 1995 at a Hair Replacement Surgery Seminar in Chicago. A group of speakers began discussing the need for a certifying board in hair replacement surgery. The discussion during the subsequent twelve months became more resolute as the press began to focus on hair replacement surgery, due to the many sensational stories on television and in print. In 1996, the American Hair Loss Council (AHLC) invited all of the specialty groups whose physicians performed hair restoration surgery to participate in a meeting to discuss the development of a Board Certification process for hair restoration surgery. The presidents of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery were each invited to send three representatives to a meeting to discuss the development of a certification process.
Two significant events stimulated this first meeting. First, the AHLC was receiving many inquiries from the public about how to recognize a competent hair restoration surgeon. Secondly, the AHLC had been contacted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and advised of its plan to conduct an industry audit, on both the surgical and non-surgical aspects of hair replacement. This audit precipitated a discussion about self-regulation within the AHLC that led to that organization's invitation to its professional peers to discuss the development of a certification process.
These representatives met twice. They recommended that an independent examining body be organized to develop a credentialing and examination process, the successful completion of which would assure the public of the individual's educational ability to perform safe, aesthetically sensitive hair replacement surgery.
On June 10, 1996, the organizational meeting for a hair replacement surgery certification examination was held at the Hotel Intercontinental in New York City. This meeting heralded a new era in hair restoration: the formation of the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery. Each of the societies represented at this meeting agreed that their respective organizations would accept and recognize this board as the only board certification focusing on hair restoration surgery.
The first formal board meeting was held in Nashville on September 20, 1996. Officers were elected and committee chairpersons were appointed. They embarked on the development of a written and oral examination, each of which is statistically validated with regard to their ability to discriminate between those whose practice habits were consistent with safe, aesthetically sensitive hair restoration surgery.
The ABHRS recently was recognized internationally. In 2000, at the request of the president of the European Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, the ABHRS began to offer its international candidates the option of having their certificates read "International Board of Hair Restoration Surgery." A certificate with this designation certifies successful completion of the same credentialing and examination process as the Diplomates of the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery. Now with multiple examinations administered, the ABHRS exam stands as the only psychometrically and statistically validated examination dedicated to the specialty of hair restoration surgery.