Founded in 1999 by Dr. Bulent Cihantimur, Estetik International uses cutting-edge technology. The most common procedure, known as organic hair transplantation, involves injecting the patient with a chemical mixture that also contains his own fatty tissue and stem cells. This mixture nourishes the scalp, creating prime conditions for transplanted hair to grow. Another procedure, follicular transfer, involves harvesting hair follicles from the back of the patient’s head and inserting them through micro cuts in the bald area. The procedure takes six to eight hours, and is followed by six weeks of vitamin and protein injections. Results show after three to four months.
Dr. Jubara’s follicular transfer was so successful that his brother and brother-in-law were persuaded to come to Turkey to have the same procedure. His own self-confidence improved dramatically, he added.
“I’m still impressed by my before and after pictures. With the happiness I discovered in the new me, I found the love of my life, a Turkish girl. We are getting engaged next week,” he told Arab News.
Privacy is another factor, he added. Some clinics offer package deals that include collection from the airport, a private driver and a hotel stay during the after-care period. Many Arab patients take a holiday at one of Turkey’s southern resorts first, then book into a clinic after they’ve sent the family home.
But experts warn that there are reportedly several hundred clinics operating illegally in Istanbul alone. While the transplant industry in Turkey is supposedly regulated, unlicensed clinics are able to attract customers because in a highly competitive market they are invariably cheaper.
However, since they are by nature “underground” setups, they are also less likely to adhere to clinical standards, not least because most do not operate from hospital premises. In short, patients have no way knowing if an unlicensed clinic is safe.
“The operations must be carried out under hospital-standard hygiene conditions and with the guidance of a specialist doctor, otherwise there is always the risk of losing the remaining hair without regaining any hair,” said Makbule Ezmeoglu, director of the Ankara branch of Estetik International told Arab News.
There are other dangers. Last year, an Iraqi-born British citizen was beaten up and robbed by a gang at a so-called hair transplant clinic. The man, who worked for an international money transfer company in London, had booked his treatment on the Internet and flew to Istanbul, where he was met by four people and installed in an upmarket hotel.
Shortly afterwards, two people arrived supposedly to collect him for surgery.
Instead they drove him to a remote part of Istanbul where they tied him up, beat him and stole his money, his mobile phones and two expensive watches. They then threw him out into the street in the early hours. He was so badly hurt that he had to be hospitalized.
His stolen property was recovered after a police investigation.
Ozgur Unlu had a hair transplant 10 years ago when it was relatively new to Turkey and stresses the importance of research before committing to treatment.
“Personally I care very much about my health and my looks, so I had the operation in a very well-known private hospital in Istanbul. I also advised my friends to do the same,” he told Arab News.
“Potential patients should also carry out in-depth research about the current hair transplant techniques that are used in Turkey, and should also examine the clinics and their reputation in the sector, rather than being attracted by the marketing techniques.
“As the Turkish saying goes, the game is not worth the candle. So, one should be careful about the potential health risks in this competitive sector and avoid falling into the trap of the criminal networks that offer lower prices, but higher health risks at the end.”
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