In the past few years, Turkey has become synonymous with hair transplants and cosmetic dental work. Anyone travelling to the country will inevitably be subjected to remarks about coming home with new hair and gleaming white teeth. Even former UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, had to bat away that kind of speculation when he returned from Turkey recently. There is no doubt that huge numbers of people are travelling abroad to take advantage of cut-price procedures, but are they risking their health in the process?
This article will look at some of the reasons why hair transplant tourism isn’t the best idea you’ll ever have. Keep scrolling to find out more!
The Tourist Trail
Take a stroll through the centre of Istanbul at any time of the day or evening and you’re likely to encounter scores of men walking about with their heads bandaged. These are the hair transplant tourists, the products of one of Turkey’s burgeoning industries. Something like one million people visited Turkey for hair transplants in 2022, spending roughly $2 billion in the process. They come from all over the world, lured by the prospect of a life-changing procedure at a much lower cost than they could get at home.
While Turkey has become the main destination for those seeking cheap procedures, it is not the only one. Clinics in many countries in Europe and Asia have tapped into this market. But is it safe?
Do a quick internet search on the words ‘hair transplant’ and, wherever you are in the world, you’ll see promotions for Turkish hair transplant clinics jump out. Search on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and you’ll get the same result. Most of the offers are ‘all-inclusive’; the price you’re quoted will usually include transfers from the airport and hotel accommodation.
The quote often follows the most cursory of ‘consultations’. Clinics are often happy to decide upon a client’s suitability for a hair transplant and how many grafts they will need on the strength of just one photograph. Occasionally, even that one picture is not required. Following classic hard-sell tactics, clinics promise that clients will have their procedure done by a top surgeon operating to the highest standards of patient safety. Is that the reality, though?
The truth is that clinics on the tourist trail are under huge pressure from competitors. To survive, they need to hype the service they provide and cut corners at the same time. Consequently, surgery is not carried out by a surgeon in most cases but by a nurse or a technician. Some of these will have received medical training but others won’t. The International Society of Hair Transplant Surgery (ISHRS) has been warning about the dangers inherent in this situation for years.
The safety concerns don’t stop at the issue of who is carrying out the surgery. Clients are often subjected to over-harvesting, the situation where too many grafts are lifted from the donor site at the back of the head. This is likely to result in bald patches in this area, as it has been stripped of hair follicles. That kind of damage cannot be repaired. It is likely to leave a permanent mark on the client, both physically and psychologically.
Reputable clinics, wherever they are in the world, set great store by the aftercare they provide. Monitoring a client in the days and weeks following their surgery is done, in the first place, for safety reasons; with all surgery, there is a risk of infection, so it is important to keep a check on things in the days following a procedure. Secondly, aftercare is done for quality control reasons, to ensure that a transplant has the greatest chance of success and that there is no adverse reaction to the surgery.
Monitoring like this is not possible under the hair transplant tourism system. Once you leave the clinic and fly home, usually just a day or two after surgery, you are very much on your own. If things go wrong, there is little you can do. Tourist clinics may offer a lifetime guarantee with their work; getting them to honour it is not so easy.
Given the poor state of the global economy just now, it’s no surprise that people are attracted by the lower cost of hair transplants in other countries. One needs to look at the bigger picture, however. Fixing your hair shouldn’t come at the cost of damaging your health. Allow yourself to be attracted by low prices and big promises and you could regret it for the rest of your life.
If you have concerns about hair loss or thinning, Vinci Hair Clinic stands ready to help. We are one of the largest and most respected hair restoration organisations in the world. What’s more, we offer a free, no-obligation consultation to all our new clients. Get in touch with us today to book your appointment!