Arab tourists with bandages on their heads may be a common sight in Istanbul and other big cities, where hair transplant clinics are located, but Europeans now outnumber their Middle Eastern counterparts, a professional in the sector has said.
Dr. Servet Terziler, a board member of a medical professionals' association specializing in hair transplants, said there was an overwhelming interest from the Arab countries in the last few years but that place has now been taken by Europeans.
Terziler said that in the past two of years they had had more clients from Europe than from the Middle East. "Along with hair transplants, Turkey is also a popular destination for plastic surgery. Roughly 2,000 people come to Turkey every day for hair therapies," he says. The kind of service offered by Turkish clinics was the key to the sector's huge success, according to Terziler.
The hair transplant sector earned more than $1 billion in 2017 and that number reached $1.5 billion last year. Terziler says that "health tourists" also contribute to the Turkish economy with their extra expenditures. "For hair treatments, people usually stay two or three nights but for plastic surgeries, that time can be even longer. They spend money on accommodation, food and shopping. They also visit Istanbul's famous landmarks," he said.
The balance of quality and price is also a factor in the rising numbers, Terziler said and added that they expected even more revenue this year.
He, however, was cautious about the future of the sector. "We don't want to be another Laleli," he says. Laleli, a district of Istanbul, was popular among traders, particularly from Russia, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. They would arrive for what was called "suitcase trade," buy consumer goods and sell them back in their home countries. "This looked like a trend that would never end but abuse of consumers' trust and the sale of low-quality products forced these traders to move to other countries," he said, pointing out that supervision and inspection of hair treatment clinics remain the key to ensuring quality.