Hair transplant industry boosts Istanbul’s receding tourism
With over 300 clinics specialising in hair transplant alone, Istanbul attracts patients from all over the world, but mainly from the Middle East and the Gulf.
On his to-do list for his trip to Istanbul, Palestinian tourist Jameel wants to visit the Blue Mosque and take a tour on the Bosphorus, like any other tourist.
Hair transplant and a bit of tourism
But he has one more, less conventional purpose – to have 1 500 strands of hair implanted one by one, in an increasingly popular anti-hair loss treatment in the Turkish metropolis.
With over 300 clinics specialising in hair transplant alone, Istanbul is becoming a growing hub in the industry, attracting patients from all over the world but mainly from the Middle East and the Gulf.
Experienced surgeons, advanced technology and relatively low prices are a plus for many tourists. And its growth in the last couple of years has come as a boon for a city where foreign tourism has fallen drastically since a spate of terror attacks in 2016.
“I came to Turkey for the hair transplant and a bit of tourism. Turkey has an excellent reputation when it comes to hair implants,” 27-year-old Jameel said, after the surgery at an Istanbul hospital, on condition of not using his full name.
Faisal Abu Ahmad, from Saudi Arabia, said his uncle underwent the treatment in Turkey and so he followed suit.
“Rapid hair loss pushed me to undergo the operation. I started getting bald spots,” he said.
Istanbul’s new symbol
At the tourist hubs of Istanbul such as Taksim Square, it is hard to miss the men wandering around with shaved heads and bandages after their operations, proudly sporting the branded headbands of their clinics.
They have become so ubiquitous that residents of Istanbul joke that a man with a bandaged head could be the city’s new symbol.
“Prices are very, very attractive. However, the second most critical element is the quality of this treatment,” said Talip Tastemel, the general manager of Clinic Expert.
“Turkey is very advanced in cosmetic surgeries and hair transplantation, so the patients are buying a very high quality treatment at a quarter of the normal cost” in some other countries.
Package offers for foreign patients include pickup from the airport, hotel accommodation, the surgery itself and tourism.