Hair transplants breed a new type of tourist in Turkey

Hair transplants breed a new type of tourist in Turkey

Hair transplants breed a new type of tourist in Turkey

Revenue from popular procedure adds to country’s $7B medical tourism industry

Hair transplants breed a new type of tourist in Turkey

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There is a new way to spot tourists in Turkey, and it doesn’t rely on catching a glimpse of selfiesticks, maps or cameras slung around their necks.

Instead, look for the black terry cloth headbands and a telltale triangle of red spots on their scalps.

Tens of thousands of male visitors sport that look in Turkey every year.

Sure, they’ll take in Istanbul’s sites, but the real reason they’re here is to get their hair back.

A patient at EstetIstanbul, a private clinic in Istanbul, gets prepped for his hair transplant surgery. (Handout)(EstetIstanbul)Majid Alfaraj, a Saudi tourist, says he started losing his hair about 10 years ago.

“You know, I’m young so I need to have a good look,” the 36-year-old says.

Alfaraj is here with his older brother who also just had the procedure done as part of a three-day hair transplant and tourism package deal.

“You can pay around $1,900 to have around 4,000 pieces of hair implanted. It’s a reasonable price and it’s considered to be cheap compared to Europe and U.S.A.,” Abdullah Alfaraj says.

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“We can enjoy our time [and] go around and see Istanbul so it’s two things in one.”

Growing industry

The brothers are among the roughly 200 patients who have hair transplants done in Turkey every day, according to Dr. Hamid Aydin, the managing physician at EstetIstanbul, a private clinic specializing in hair transplants.

Aydin says those patients in particular bring in nearly half a billion dollars a year, adding to the country’s $7-billion medical tourism industry.

The procedure involves taking more than three thousand grafts from a fertile part of the scalp, often the back of the patient’s head above the neck. They are then implanted in the bald area. Aydin says on average the operation takes about five hours.

Among the reasons for the recent explosion in the procedure, Aydin says, are Turkey’s proficiency in the field, new hair transplant technology and affordability.

He says the country is already well-known for medical tourism in other disciplines including in vitro fertilization, optometry and cardiology.

The Turkish government also helps support the industry by subsidizing the offices of Turkish companies promoting their clinics abroad.

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