How Istanbul Became the Global Capital of the Hair Transplant

But I had a passport, high risk tolerance, and plenty of time to dig around on Reddit.

I fell into the rabbit hole of the Hair Transplant subreddit, fascinated by the endless stream of Before and After photos. Here, hundreds of brothers proudly share their transformation from Baldie to Hottie; it was a surprisingly friendly brotherhood, often revealing where they went and what they paid. One destination keeps popping up: Turkey. Clinics with names like Hair of Istanbul, Hair Transplant Turkey, World Plast Hair Istanbul, Hairpol Istanbul, Hair Health Istanbul, Hair Time Istanbul.

Why is Turkey such an attractive address for hair restoration? The first reason is obvious. “Turkey is a developing country,” Ali Caglayan, founder of tour guide IstanBeautiful, told me. “The salary here is very low. Office rental costs are very low compared to in the US”

Of course, the same is true in places like Mexico, Thailand and the Caribbean, where there are a lot of hair clinics. But, at least according to Turkish clinics, they have set themselves apart with the quality of their doctors. Mehmet Fatih Akdemir, founder of Hair of Istanbul, said: “Initially the reason was money, it was cheaper than other countries in Europe. “For this reason, Turkish doctors have become more experienced. They just get better. It’s a virtuous cycle, he claims: the rise of hair tourism leads to better doctors, leads to more tourism, leads to even better doctors.

The Turkish Ministry of Health sees this burgeoning industry as an opportunity to help promote medical tourism, said Cagalyan, so it has offered tax breaks and refunds on things like medical equipment, says Cagalyan. digital marketing and even patient-mandatory hotel rooms. The plan worked: Caglayan estimates that Turkey now receives between 1.5 million and 2 million medical tourists a year, mainly for hair transplants, plastic surgery, dental work and weight loss treatments .

Many of these hair clinics in Turkey have mixed and even polarizing reputations, and are considered by both online critics and US surgeons to be “hair salons” that employ assistants and technicians. staff – not doctors – to perform as many surgeries as possible. They warn that, sure, it’s possible that a medical professional will draw the brows and give a quick consultation, but a team of assistants actually do the punching and implant work. Hence the bargain price.

“The biggest risk is falling into the wrong hands and not doing your proper research,” said Dr. Ricardo Mejia, who sits on the Board of Governors of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (İSHRS), a non-profit medical association (which also includes Turkish doctors). He specifically recommended making sure the doctor was registered with İSHRS and pointed me to an ISHRS page outlining horror stories from the “black market pirate clinic”: scarring, infections, poor hair growth and unnatural hairs. “Who will do the surgery for you?” he asked me. “Is it a doctor or a technician? Is that the taxi driver they trained last week? “ How Istanbul Became the Global Capital of the Hair Transplant

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