With more than 350 clinics in Istanbul alone, hair transplants are big business in Turkey. An estimated 5000 patients travel here each month to restore their hair via surgery, creating an industry worth $1 billion to the Turkish economy. And as the procedure becomes more and more common, Turkey is fast emerging as the hair transplant capital of the world. So just what is it about this country that is attracting patients from all corners of the globe?
An obvious benefit of travelling to Turkey for a hair transplant is the cost saving.
In the UK, for example, a typical hair transplant will cost between £5,000 and £15,000 ($7,200 to $21,600). Costs are similar in the USA, where the procedure can cost as much as $15,000 to $20,000.
The average cost of a hair transplant in Turkey, though, is just €2,000 (approx. $2261 at the time of writing). This makes getting a hair transplant in Turkey around 85% cheaper than in the US.
But obviously, hair transplant surgery is not a one-size-fits-all solution.
Different factors – the extent of an individual’s hair loss (measured by the Norwood scale), the texture of the donor hair, the number of hairs per graft – mean each case is different. Consequently, the cost of surgery will differ from patient to patient as well as from surgeon to surgeon.
A common way to measure the cost of an FUE (more on this later) hair transplant is the cost per graft. This can range from anywhere between $3 to $8 per graft in the US but between $1.50 to $3 in Turkey.
Taking the top price from both countries, getting a hair transplant in Turkey works out 62.5% cheaper.
A 4000 graft procedure, enough to restore the appearance of a full head of hair for most patients above a Norwood 4 classification, could cost as little as $6000 in Turkey.
Despite being significantly cheaper than almost anywhere elsewhere in the world, the results of hair transplants in Turkey are no less impressive.
In fact, Turkish clinics are arguably producing some of the best results of anywhere.
Many Turkish hair transplant surgeons learned hair transplantation from intensive training courses in Western countries in the early 2000s and have since refined their methods in line with the latest developments in the field.
What’s more, as most hair transplant centres in Turkey are relatively new, they are likely to use the newest technologies and be fitted with most modern equipment to ensure the best results.
If you’re still in doubt as to the quality though, a quick search on the forums will reveal pictures of a great many world-class patient outcomes.
Partly as a consequence of such consistently spectacular results, Turkish hair transplant surgeons have earned the trust of doctors and patients worldwide.
This trust is reinforced by accreditations from prestigious hair transplant organisations The International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons (IAHRS) and The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS).
Formed in 1993, the ISHRS provides education and training for hair transplant surgeons and organises research meetings and conferences for hair transplant surgeons and their staff. Over 1200 members – many of whom operate in Turkey – benefit from the resources of the organisation to ensure top quality outcomes and patient care.
The IAHRS is an elite consumer organisation that seeks to identify only surgeons that can be trusted. According to the organisation’s code of ethics:
“Membership in the International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons (IAHRS) is a privilege accorded only to a select and elite group of physicians of the highest moral and professional standards; it is not a right granted automatically to every applicant.”
IAHRS membership should inspire the highest levels of patient trust. In Turkey, three doctors are members of this exclusive organisation:
Koray Erdogan, MD
Hakan Doganay, MD
Ekrem Civas, MD
Though there are many surgeons in Turkey producing excellent results, opting for an IAHRS-accredited physician provides maximum peace of mind and is as close to a guarantee of a great result you can get.
Surgeons in Turkey almost exclusively perform hair transplantation via Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). This technique can be contrasted with the older Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) method.
The old method, FUT, involves cutting a section of scalp from the back of the patient’s head to harvest hair follicles. This strip is then divided into many smaller grafts which are implanted into the affected area.
Whilst this is still an effective method, it will almost certainly leave a distinctive scar in the donor area.
The FUE method is a minimally invasive alternative.
Performed under local anaesthetic, individual follicles are extracted one by one from areas genetically resistant to the effects of androgenetic alopecia (the back and sides of the scalp) and implanted into the affected area.
Unlike FUT, scarring is dispersed evenly, making it much harder to notice. Modern extraction tools are less than 1mm in diameter, making each scar virtually undetectable.
Another advantage of the FUE method is that it creates a more homogenous overall effect, reducing the appearance of hair loss.
As hair is taken evenly from all over, the density of the donor area is reduced evenly. This means there is less contrast between the densities of the donor and recipient areas, creating a more convincing illusion of a full head of hair:
Overall, Turkey’s great reputation for hair transplant surgery is well deserved.
As well as the main benefits outlined here, patient care and attention to detail is usually second to none. VIP transfers from the airport to surgery, free hotel stays, dedicated translators and even mid-surgery massages are often part of the Turkish hair transplant experience. No expense is spared despite the bargain prices.
Hair transplant tourism has become so common in Turkey that you’ll often see men taking in the sights of Istanbul with medical gauze around their head protecting their scalps from surgery.
However, getting a hair transplant in Turkey is no guarantee of success. The boom in popularity for the procedure here has meant many not-so-reputable clincs have emerged. It’s therefore imperative to do your research carefully before making a decision.