Both Murtezaoglu and Tastemel vehemently deny Syrian employees are mistreated in any way. “In general in health care you have to answer your phone day and night, this is a general requirement in this domain. This is not because they are Syrian and being abused,” says Tastemel. “To be honest, a lot of refugees and Syrians are making a decent life and salary because of this market. Normally there are not a lot of opportunities for refugees.”
A previous version of this article stated that 1,500 Turkish lira was equal to about $0.25. In fact, it’s equal to about $400.
BEHIND THE SCENES OF TURKEY’S $1B HAIR TRANSPLANT INDUSTRY
2/15Doctor Yeliz Parlatici (right) and an Arabic-Turkish interpreter examine Ehsan Albalushi’s head before the operation. Ehsan, from Barhain, previously underwent a hair transplant surgery in Istanbul a year ago but it was not successful.Emanuele Satolli
12/15Doctor Yeliz Parlatici applies a moisturizing lotion on Ehsan Albalushi’s head. Two days after the operation the patient gets his first shampoo treatment at the clinic.Emanuele Satolli
HAIR TRANSPLANTS ARE a $1 billion big business in Turkey, where there are around 350 clinics in Istanbul alone and some 5,000 people descend on the country each month to get a more luxurious head of hair.
It’s a strange world, one that photographer Emanuele Satollireveals in his riveting series Turkish Hair Farmers. He goes into operating rooms where bright lights illuminate scalps prepped for surgery, and into the streets where patients play tourist with their families afterward. “It’s very common to see men with bandages visiting museums, walking on the streets or eating in the restaurants,” Satolli says. “They are alone, with their wife and children, or with other friends all who underwent the operation. It’s very strange and interesting at the same time.”
The procedure, called follicular unit extraction, costs between $1,700 and $2,000 in Turkey—an absolute steal compared to the $15,000 to $25,000 you’d pay in the US. It’s relatively straightforward: a surgeon harvests roughly 4,000 hair follicles from the back of the head, where hair is thicker, and inserts them into tiny incisions elsewhere in the scalp.