According to the Genetics Home Reference of the U.S National Library of Medicine, half the men over 50 years lose their hair.
To combat this hair loss and restore the preferred aesthetics, many people are going in for hair transplant procedures.
While these might be expensive, especially in the US and UK, Turkey provides an alternative destination to get work done on your hair.
In this article, we take a closer look at the hair transplant industry in Turkey – peeling back the layers to examine the safety and viability of heading there to get your hair worked on.
What does the hair transplant industry in Turkey look like?
Owing to its ideal location that links Europe and Asia, Turkey is shaping up as a top destination for those needing to restore their hair.
Even when political instability and other fears hurt the tourism sector, health tourism – hair transplants in particular – propped up boosted the industry.
The key numbers
Medical tourism rakes in $2.5 billion for the tourism industry. Of this, the hair transplant sector accounts for $1 billion.
This is no surprise given that, each month, 5000 people fly into the country to address their hair loss issues.
In an article about the industry published in Quartz, it was estimated that Turkish hair clinics completed about 100 to 150 hair transplant procedures in a single week.
So, why do people flock to Turkey for hair transplants? Let’s take a quick look.
Why do people prefer going to Turkey for hair transplants?
As we have discussed in the previous section, throngs of people from Europe, Asia and other places on the globe prefer to go to Turkey to have their hair loss problems solved.
Here are a few reasons why:
- Hair transplant procedures are significantly cheaper in Turkey than in the UK or US.
- Packages covering transport and accommodation
- Istanbul alone has over 350 hair transplant clinics.
- Getting visas to enter the country is an expedited process.
- Turkey is beautiful, with various sites steeped in a rich heritage and culture.
Despite all these advantages, the situation can’t be all rosy. Read on; let’s paint you a more elaborate picture of the situation.
Are there any horror stories regarding the Turkish hair transplant industry?
Turkey offers plenty of positives when it comes to offering hair transplant options.
However, there have been some not so savoury stories emerging from the country. With such a large number of clinics, some of them might not follow the law.
Examples of bad experiences
Searching online, we happened upon a blog that detailed the experience of a one Sayeed from Saudi Arabia. He hadn’t properly researched the clinic of his choice.
The end result was a constantly bleeding scalp from what might have been a botched operation from the clinic.
In an article by the Daily Mail offering a peek into the boom Turkish industry, they featured a story about a man who visited an Istanbul clinic in 2016.
He had a bad experience, with the results differing greatly from what he had been promised. The donor area was over-harvested, leaving it patchy.
The new growth also didn’t achieve the required density.
What is the history of hair transplantation in Turkey?
Globally, hair transplantation was birthed in the hands of Dr Sasagawa in pre-World War II Japan.
The techniques and equipment were developed and refined over the years in Japan, the United States, Brazil and Australia plus the UK.
What is Turkey’s mark on this field?
As the science and techniques of hair transplantation evolved, so did the equipment that was needed to perform the procedures.
Turkish biomedical engineers and surgeons have made numerous iterations of the pen-like follicle extractors and robots for other techniques.
Many Turkish clinics offer sapphire- and gold-tipped blades to reduce scarring during FUE.
The significantly cheaper price has also led to the booming hair transplantation industry, making Turkey one of the very big players in this field.
Is it unsafe to treat your hair loss in Turkey?
Several UK and US publications sling mud at the Turkish hair transplantation industry, claiming that the standards are subpar and the results even worse.
However, the majority of the clients are happy with the service that they receive.
Additionally, if the practices and standards were as bad as claimed, this particular arm of the Turkish medical tourism industry wouldn’t have thrived for over 15 years.
Who are the pioneers of hair transplants in Turkey?
Several Turkish surgeons have always been on the bleeding edge in the hair transplantation field.
One of the most prominent names in Turkish hair transplant circles is Dr Koray Erdogan. Dr Erdogan is the Vice President of the World FUE Institute.
His groundbreaking work includes the development of:
- Sequential technique for FUE
- Graft calculator
- Coverage value
- Revolutionary equipment like Koray Erdogan Embedding Placer (KEEP), KE-BOT, KE-Head and KE-REST
Who else pioneered hair loss treatment in Turkey?
Some other surgeons have contributed to the industry, starting out in the 90s and the early 2000s.
Some of these include:
- Dr Muttalip Keser believed to have performed the first FUE procedure in 2002
- Dr Serkan Aygın who started practising in 1996
- Dr Hakan Doğanay started practising in 2003 and introduced the use of pen techniques in 2009
Is it in the interest of clinics from other countries to claim Turkey isn’t safe?
With the cost-effective hair transplant procedures, many people leave their home countries to fix their hair in Turkey.
Consequently, clinics in countries like the UK and the US lose out on clients, affecting their bottom line.
By claiming that the clinics aren’t safe, they hope to take the wind out of the Turkish hair transplantation industry’s sails.
In my opinion, Turkey is a safe destination to have a hair transplant, provided you do your research properly.
It is clear the majority of clients have a safe procedure. Even if the results aren’t up their expectation, they at least have a safe procedure.
Clinics in other countries attempt to keep their clients by decrying the practices and standards in Turkey. And by pointing at some bad apples, they hope to dissuade people from opting for Turkish service.
However, there are plenty of qualified and well-meaning clinics that do a commendable job.
Many of the clients have been at the forefront of the field, developing techniques and tools that are accepted by other professionals across the world.
With all this in mind, we can confidently say that Turkey is a safe place for your hair loss queries. After all, if it wasn’t, it would have already been shut down.
Pharmacist with special interest in hair loss and hair transplantation.
Read my book on hair transplants in Turkey on Amazon: