Michael Edwards, the president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), says that Europeans and Middle Easterners visiting Turkey for plastic surgery is akin to Canadians coming to the United States for medical procedures, and he doesn’t advise Americans to go all the way to Turkey or elsewhere for a hair transplant—or any procedure. “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,” says Edwards. “There are also equally as many, if not more, people who are out to try and capitalize on vanity and whatever the hot trend in surgery is at the moment. What’s if there’s an issue with wound healing? They’re just going to tell you to go to a local ER.”
If you do see a foreign medical professional who isn’t actually that professional, your options for recourse are limited. Edwards, who practices in Las Vegas, says he sees reconstructive patients who “have gone south of the border for breast or tummy surgery” and now need it corrected. “There was no follow-up,” he says. “They ran a credit card and said, ‘Adios’ and ‘Send me your friends.’ It’s important to do your homework on facilities and their practices.”
Nuri heartily agrees. While he hasn’t had any referrals made to him because of medical tourism gone wrong, there are patients going to underqualified—or completely unqualified—practices. “The International Society [of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons] takes these clinics to court and shuts them down, but often the same people will just open a new clinic,” he says. “It’s the Society’s responsibility to stop this, but it’s also the patients’ responsibility to see proper certification papers, not just a cheap price.”
ILLEGAL CLINICS THREATEN HAIR TRANSPLANT TOURISM
Turkey is the leader in hair transplant tourism but illegal new clinics threaten to destroy the genuine business. An expanding network of clinics profits from an ever-growing number of visitors from abroad, mainly from Arab countries.
If official figures are to be believed, Turkey had 100,000 hair transplant tourists in 2015 – that’s 200 a day. However, a surge of illegal new clinics is threatening to destroy the genuine business.