While walking on the streets of Istanbul or during your check-in and passport control at the city's airports, it is inevitable that you will see men with white bandages wrapped around their heads. Some might wonder what these men are doing. No need to wonder any longer, they are frequenters of high-quality Turkish medical centers that offer hair transplants.
The top choice for hair transplants in Europe, Turkey welcomes people from Middle East, Gulf countries and European countries for hair transplant operations. The quality of services and affordable prices has enabled Turkey to be ranked third in hair transplant procedures worldwide.
Turkey offers world class medical facilities at affordable prices for a hair transplant procedures which cost around $15,000 in the U.S. and most European countries, and $2,000 to $4,000 in Turkey.
"I wanted to look better. A better look with my hair would make me feel charming," an Israeli man said right before his hair transplant operation in Istanbul.
The young man, who preferred to remain anonymous, said he came to Turkey upon advice from his friend who underwent the same treatment in Istanbul some years ago.
"I just heard good things about Turkey, especially about Istanbul. My friend has also been in the city and I decided to come here when I saw the results," said the man, who is in his 20s.
He talked about the quality of the service in Turkey to Anadolu Agency (AA), "It's amazing. It is like VIP treatment. It's really good. Very very much. I did not expect this kind of treatment."
Turkey is the most popular destination for hair transplants, according to Suhan Ayhan, the head of the Turkish Society of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery.
Additionally, Emirali Hamiloğlu, a plastic surgeon at the Estecenter Plastic Surgery Center in Istanbul, estimated that nearly 1,500 hair transplants are performed at surgeries across the country every day.
"Around 1,200 of these surgeries are conducted in Istanbul," he said, underlining that the Turkish metropolis is the center of hair transplant surgeries in the world.
Affordable prices, high-quality service
Answering a question about if people choose Turkey for the low cost, Hamiloğlu said that apart from relatively cheap prices, the country provides the best quality in service.
"There are several reasons. The affordable prices are not the only reason. Turkey has a lot of experience in this sector," he said.
In hair transplantation surgery, two surgical techniques — Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) are widely used to remove hair from a patient's scalp.
In the FUE technique, widely implemented in Turkey, each hair graft is removed from the donor site one by one using a punch tool.
The advantage of the technique is that scarring is avoided, while the FUT technique leaves a permanent scar on the donor and recipient sites.
"The average graft in hair transplantation with the FUE technique was around 1,500-2,000 [units] in Europe and the U.S. while it is around 4,000 [units] in Turkey. That means we are planting an average of 8,000 hairs per patient. The figure is quite above the European and the U.S. average," said Hamiloğlu.
"This enables us to have better and more natural results," he added.
Turkish surgeons are more experienced compared to those in Europe, Hamiloglu said, since they perform more hair transplant surgeries.
Canan Melike Köksüz, a medical aesthetics specialist at the NHC Istanbul clinic, said the same thing as Hamiloğlu. Köksüz added that quality and affordable price besides experienced surgeons make Turkey stand out as a popular destination.
"As long as we can continue to offer a qualified and low-price service, the demand in the Turkish hair transplantation market will increase."
Meanwhile, she warned against unauthorized hair transplant centers across the city.
"These places are very dangerous and risky. They don't abide by the rules and regulations. They don't even have authorized doctors and nurses to follow up the treatment," Köksüz said.
She advised patients to check the registration numbers and licenses of the clinics and hospitals they apply to.
She also called on the Turkish Health Ministry to implement strict regulations and a monitoring mechanism to prevent illegal hair transplant activities. Köksüz said she been working in the aesthetics sector and performed over 5,000 hair transplant operations.
Located in the middle of Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa, Turkey, she said, reserves a huge potential to boost the market with its geographically significant location. The references of patients bring most of the others for hair transplants in Turkey.
The hair transplant industry in Turkey also has a huge number of domestic patients.
Hasan Bozdemir, a 22-year-old man from central Turkey, said he came to Köksüz's clinic for hair transplantation. Bozdemir sought hair transplantation "to have a better outlook" on life.
A doctor, along with three experienced nurses or technicians can conduct three to four operations a day depending on the amount of hair graft required for each patient, she said.
"This is not a simple beauty treatment, rather microsurgery," Köksüz added. "The whole transplantation process should be monitored by health personnel."
Patients are required to wait 48 hours before washing their hair after the transplantation. The first washing is given in the clinic and the staff gives the patient with the necessary information to follow up, she said.
"If we continue to offer the best quality, Turkey's hair transplantation industry will continue to lead," she concluded.