Recently I visited Istanbul with a few friends who were visiting the city for hair transplantation. For some of them, it was their second or third trip. Intrigued by their excitement and how pleased they had been with previous results, I decided to accompany them on their trip to watch closely how the procedure is carried out and what pre and post-procedure care they have to go through.
I also managed to meet a few people in Istanbul who are involved with this industry and visited several clinics. There are over 700 hair transplants clinics in Istanbul alone. It is not uncommon to see people in the Grand Bazar (a famous old market in Istanbul) shopping with bandages on their heads. So what is so special about hair transplants in Istanbul?
Istanbul is the largest Turkish city, located on the crossroads of Asia and Europe. Turkey is predominantly a Muslim country. It has seen the rise and fall of many empires, each of which has left its mark on the city. This can best be seen in the old city area of Istanbul. In addition to being a famous tourist destination, it has become one of the most visited cities for health tourism, especially for hair transplants.
Why is Istanbul the capital for hair transplantation?
Many factors make Turkey, and Istanbul in particular, excellent choices for hair transplantation:
The average cost of a hair transplant in the US is around $15000, while the same procedure can easily be purchased for between $2000 – $3000 in Turkey. Since it is a cosmetics procedure, it is not covered by insurance at all. It is important to note that the process sometimes requires more than one visit with a few months gap to achieve the desired results. Thanks to the low price and easy access, Istanbul is a popular choice to visit for the procedure, even after factoring in airfare and hotels. Many 5-star hotels cost $100 per night. If you plan to stay more than a few nights, a nice furnished apartment can be rented for as little as $300 for a week. Many patients opt to stay close to the clinic, at least for the first few days.
World-Class Doctors and Facilities:
Getting a hair transplant is a life-changing event, and you want the best dermatologist to supervise that process. Turkey’s healthcare system is very competitive, if not the best in the world, especially if you compare it with other cheaper options like India, Mexico etc. Around 1500 surgeons daily perform different surgeries. As they say, practice makes perfect, and with these hair transplant facilities performing these surgeries repeatedly every day, you can be sure that you are getting the most experienced staff.
You may find it difficult to communicate if you try to buy or navigate your way through the city or even order food in Istanbul, as most people in Istanbul do not know English. However, the good news is that most of the staff can understand and speak English when you visit a clinic. In the rare case of an exception, clinics will ensure that a certified language translator is on-site to keep the process smooth.
Scenic tourist locations:
Istanbul’s beautiful landscape and historical buildings are enough to keep you captivated for some time. If you would like to venture out of Istanbul, there are plenty of locations, such as Bursa and Cappadocia, to enjoy the natural scenery. Check out the balloon and cable car rides.
Due to the high value of the US dollar, you will find plenty of bargains, especially if you are looking for traditional lamps, ceramic pottery, clothing and jewelry at any of the traditional markers. The most famous market is the Grand Bazar and the Egypt Spice Bazar. However, do your research on reasonable prices (check Amazon or Google) before buying from the Grand Bazar, and be prepared to haggle. My experience is that shopkeepers start their pricing 3-4 times the actual price. If you are afraid to haggle, you will overpay – you really do have to negotiate your way to the best price.
How can I find the best hair transplant facility?
This is a difficult question to answer definitively. There are hundreds of hair transplant clinics in Istanbul alone, and each claims to be the best. Many doctors are associated with multiple hospitals. For this reason, it is not only important to know how good the doctor is but also the rating of the hospital where the procedure will be performed.
What type of procedure is best suited for you?
This usually depends on the area and location of the body where you are seeking a transplant. The very first thing you will need to do is to send your head pictures to the clinic. Based on your picture, they will suggest the Follicular unit extraction (FUE) or Direct Hair Implantation (DHI) procedure with an estimated quote.
Who will be your doctor? How many procedures have they performed? References of their previous patients?
Hundreds, if not thousands, of hair transplant procedures are performed in Istanbul alone on a daily basis. Your procedure will be monitored and given the green light by a doctor, but trained technicians and nurses will carry out the procedure. The process can take 6-10 hours. Before committing to any clinic or doctor, make sure that you get their previous patients references and do your own research to certify them.
What kind of pre and post-procedure care be provided?
It is important to know what you can eat or drink before and after the procedure. This is even more important if you have any underlying medical condition like high blood pressure etc., and you are taking any medications for that. Your clinic will give you advice to follow. Due to the nature of the procedure, your blood pressure may rise. This is monitored by the staff, and if they are unhappy with how high this then they may stop the procedure until your blood pressure returns to normal. Due to this reason, you may lose a day or two from your trip.
After the procedure, you cannot smoke, engage in sexual activity, or rub your head with soap for at least 14 days. This is mainly to avoid damage to the nascent graft on your head. You will receive some antibiotics and some medicines for possible pain and swelling. Make sure you understand when to take the medicines provided. You may be asked to send a picture of your scalp over the next 15 to 30 days to the clinic so that they can ensure that everything is looking good.
Thanks to the great advancements in hair transplantation techniques and the ease of access to the procedure, more and more people are interested in it every day. For many people, hair is an important part of their personality. Ageing and lifestyle take a toll on our hair. Men, especially, experience baldness more frequently than women. Of course, there is nothing wrong with being bald, and many people are happy with that, but for those of us who like to explore hair transplants and are willing to take a trans-Atlantic flight, Turkey is a great opinion worth exploring.