The rise in ‘health tourism’, fuelled by low-cost medical procedures in Eastern Europe, Mexico, India and beyond, has seen a spike in the number of hair transplant procedures carried out abroad.
And it is Turkey, according to reports, which has become the go-to place for ‘medical tourists’ hoping to find a quick fix for hair loss issues such as a receding hairline.
Rooney among the surgery trend-setters
Hair transplants, though far from new, enjoyed a boost in popularity when footballer Wayne Rooney underwent one (in the UK) a few years ago. Going bald at 25, despite the surgery not being recommended for men under 30, the player Tweeted: “Just to confirm to all my followers, I have had a hair transplant… why not?”
His announcement prompted a storm of media interest, much of which was based around whether the operation had actually been a success or not. Two years after the transplant, the Manchester United forward appeared to be shedding again and had a second FUE procedure which reportedly took nine hours and brought his total transplant bill up to around £30,000.
Rooney’s open approach to dealing with his male pattern baldness made him something of a ‘poster boy’ for hair transplant operations, helping to dispel the previous stigma attached to this type of ‘vanity’ surgery.
As part of a new crop of transplant role models, including model Calum Best and actor James Nesbitt, plus the increased availability and technological developments in the hair restoration industry, there has been a surge in demand over the past couple of years.
Going abroad for ‘cheap’ hair transplants
One thing that remains an issue for many men, however, is the cost of getting a hair transplant. With UK prices generally ranging between £3,000 to £7,000 per operation, increasing numbers of ‘health tourists’ are going abroad for cheap hair transplants.
Turkey is reported to be cornering the market in hair restoration procedures among medical tourists who want to save on the high costs of the operation back home, with Iran a close second. According to a press release reported in Allure magazine, 15,000 people travelled to Turkey for hair transplant surgery in 2014, mainly visiting from Italy, Greece, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as well as England and Russia.
Dangers of foreign surgery
Despite this trend, any operation performed a long way from home should not be approached lightly. Talking to the website allure.com, Celik Nuri, Turkey’s national secretary for the International Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, warns that it is in the patient’s interest to “see proper certification papers, not just a cheap price.”
Health experts list a number of significant concerns when it comes to flying abroad for treatment. Among them are patient suitability for the procedure or operation (in the case of hair loss, people suffering from Diffuse Hair Loss or the auto-immune condition Alopecia Areata are not suited to transplants); the skill and qualifications of the medical team in the host country; after-care; and language difficulties.
Aftercare is an often-overlooked but hugely important part of any operation – and hair transplants are no different. Should complications arise after your transplant, being able to call or pop in for advice or treatment, is far easier when the surgeon is local and speaks the same language.
President of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), Michael Edwards also told Allure, “There are wonderfully talented, great doctors around the world, but if you have surgery abroad, you’re not going to have the same access to them as you would to a closer doctor… What’s if there’s an issue with wound healing? They’re just going to tell you to go to a local ER [A&E].”
Weighing up local hair loss treatment options
In addition to these risks, the travel, accommodation and other expenses that come with travelling abroad for a hair transplant – especially if the patient is accompanied – should also be taken into account meaning that the ‘cheaper’ option may not be quite as reasonable as first thought.
People sometimes seek out medical procedures overseas without first having properly weighed up their options back home, too.
Bespoke hair loss treatment plans featuring the medically-proven components finasteride 1mg and minoxidil often produce promising levels of regrowth without the need for surgery – or those deep feelings of trepidation that may go with booking a medical procedure in a far-off country.
Anyone considering a hair transplant should follow one of these courses for at least six months in order to a) stabilise their hair loss in order to properly prepare the hair ready for surgery, and b) to see if they start to achieve the kind of regrowth results they are looking for, negating the need for a transplant.
Following a personal appointment with a hair loss specialist, a treatment plan with supplemental hair growth boosters will be devised to combat your specific hair loss condition and level of thinning, as well as your medical and lifestyle needs. Designed to maximise the chances of stopping existing hair loss and encourage regrowth, each client is assigned a dedicated treatment advisor who is on hand to help, offering support, progress monitoring and advice, every step of the way.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.