Category Archives: Hair Transplant Turkey

Hair Transplant Industry in Turkey Worth $2 Billion in 2022

Turkey Hair Transplant
Turkey hair transplant patients in a Turkish Airlines flight.

The most frequent automatic news alerts from Google that I have received over the past ten years are about hair transplants in Turkey. Most of these articles still refrain from using the country’s new name “Türkiye”. I will use both in this post.

I almost renamed this post to “Turkish Hairlines” after reading the following quote in a recent Forbes article on hair transplants in Turkey:

“The national flag carrier Turkish Airlines is jokingly called “Turkish Hairlines” and the (Istanbul) airport is plastered with hair transplant advertisements.”

A video on TikTok that showed this phenomenon in a Turkish Airlines airplane went viral in 2022.

Turkish Hair Transplant Industry Worth $2 Billion

According to TRT World, the Turkish Health Tourism Association head recently announced that:

The Turkish hair transplant tourism industry was worth $2 billion in 2022. Moreover, one million patients from abroad received hair transplants in Türkiye in 2022.

The above numbers are probably estimated and have a wide error margin. However, there is no doubt that Turkey has become the global epicenter for hair transplant related cosmetic tourism.

$2,000 Hair Transplants in Turkey

If we go by the above data, the average cost of a hair transplant in Türkiye would then come out to be $2,000 per procedure. Extremely cheap by western standards, even if each transplant only consists of 1,000 to 2,000 grafts on average.

The one million hair transplant patient count estimate just in Turkey clearly indicates that the ISHRS global data is wildly off. The organization estimates their global hair transplant total (703,000 in 2021) based on member surveys that are then extrapolated. My gut feeling is that the Turkish number is a lot closer to the truth.

Now the Japanese and Africans are Coming

When it comes to hair transplant tourism, Türkiye has always benefited from its proximity to Europe and the Middle East. The cost of a hair transplant in Türkiye is less than half what you would find in Western Europe or Dubai. More surprisingly, in recent years, hair loss sufferers from as far away as Japan and sub-Saharan Africa have started to come to Turkey.

  • An increasing number of Japanese patients have started getting hair transplants in Türkiye per Nikkei, benefitting from a favorable exchange rate due to the weak Turkish Lira. According to one person quoted in the article: “The price of a hair transplant in Istanbul is one-sixth of that in Japan and one-half of that in South Korea.”
  • A recent article in the Jersusalem Post covered how Turkey is becoming the go-to destination for Israelis desiring hair restoration procedures. Among the reasons cited included affordability, medical expertise, advanced technology and safety measures. Besides the low cost, all of these will significantly vary depending on clinic of course.
  • Another recent article in Essence covered a clinic where 30 percent of patients were from Africa. Note that the kinkier and curlier African hair necessitates going to a surgeon who is experienced in transplanting that type of ethnic scalp hair grafts.

Unfortunately, the tremendous mostly positive publicity for Turkey’s low-cost hair transplant tourism industry has also resulted in hundreds of subpar unregistered hair restoration clinics in Turkey. In a similar manner to what you see in India where both good and bad quality proliferates rapidly. Make sure to read my posts on hair transplant abroad and hair transplant gone wrong.

Quality Clinics

Do note that there are dozens of quality clinics in Türkiye. Some of them impress me tremendously with what they show on social media. Some have plenty of great reviews, but also seem like factories with numerous physicians moving along at breakneck speed.

Some of the work that impressed me include this recent video from ASMED and Dr. Koray Erdogan. Another surgeon named Dr. Emrah Çinik has a large online following and stellar reviews. Almost all the well known surgeons seem to operate in Istanbul. Several lesser known ones are based in Ankara, but I am not mentioning them here for now.

Among the larger clinics with many surgeons, “Hair of Istanbul” has over 4 million followers on Instagram. Cosmedica and Smile Clinic both have over 1 million followers. Vera Clinic has 400,000 followers. Do note that many businesses can easily purchase followers and artificially increase their importance.

All the reputable surgeons should be able to perform the more popular follicular unit extraction (FUE) procedure. Some may still offer the strip (FUT) procedure depending on patient request and suitability,

Thousands of Unmonitored Hair Transplant Clinics in Türkiye

Suppose 1 million foreigners really do get a hair transplant in Türkiye each year; and suppose that each hair transplant clinic in the country performs a crazy high 1,000 procedures per year; you would then still have 1,000 hair restoration clinics being present in the country. Most likely there are at least several thousand hair transplant clinics in Türkiye. And I would not be surprised if the majority are unmonitored and maybe even unregistered.

Even more surprising:

  • On the ISHRS website, there are currently only 16 Turkish surgeons listed as members. Note that the ISHRS has around 1,000 hair transplant surgeon members from across the world. So it is not that hard to get on their list.
  • On the IAHRS website, there are currently 6 Turkish surgeons listed as members.
  • The Turkish society of Hair Restoration Surgeons was supposedly established on March 1st, 2020. However, I do not see any website for the organization that lists surgeon member names.

So it is absolutely imperative that you conduct thorough research before going to Turkey for a hair transplant. Even if most of the 1 million people who go there each year fail do so and take a major gamble with their long-term appearance. Do not do what GQ writer Alex Hawkins did (even if he got lucky and ended up satisfied):

“I flew to Turkey and visited a clinic where a vaguely mysterious doctor cut 4,250 holes in my head.

Dangers of Getting a Hair Transplant Abroad

Hair Transplant Abroad Risks
Getting a hair transplant in a foreign country such as Turkey, India or Thailand. Lower cost, but also riskier.

Getting a hair transplant abroad in countries such as India, Thailand, Turkey and the UAE is becoming increasingly popular.

The costs are usually a fraction of those seen in the US or Western Europe. However, the dangers are also significant, especially in the hands of inexperienced surgeons.

The below new Bloomberg video on Turkey’s booming hair transplant industry features Spencer Stevenson (Spex). One of the surgeons in the video estimates that 1,500 to 2,000 hair transplant procedures occur in Turkey daily.

Deaths from Hair Transplant Procedures

Although very rare, a number of young people have died in recent years during or immediately after a hair transplant surgery. As hair restoration procedures become ever more popular worldwide, such tragedies will only increase.

Among the main reasons for major issues after a hair transplant procedure include: incorrect dosage anesthesia medication delivery; excessively lengthy procedures in order to get the most number of grafts moved; and uncleanliness related infections.

September 21, 2021

A 31-year old Indian man died three days after getting a hair transplant. It has not yet been proven what exactly caused his death, but he started feeling uneasiness less than two days after the procedure. He went back to the hospital where the hair transplant clinic is located in order to get treated. Sadly he did not recover, and passed away in the ICU on the next day.

September 15, 2021

A 28-year old Italian man went to Turkey for a hair transplant. He ended up dying from a heart attack under very suspicious circumstances. Doctors supposedly even performed an angiography and stent procedure before the hair restoration procedure.

In 2020, a 26-year old UK man who went to Turkey for his hair transplant came back with a pretty shocking story. There are many great hair transplant surgeons in Turkey, but even more numerous dangerous run-of-the-mill clinics. Getting a hair transplant abroad can be very cheap, but also a risky proposition.

March 12, 2019

An Indian man in his early 40s died after getting a 12-hour hair transplant procedure. He initially wanted an insane 9,000 grafts in one go. However, after receiving 3,700 grafts, the surgery was stopped at 2:30 am due to complications. Some unethical surgeons want to provide the best before and after results and photos for future customers. Therefore, they will often encourage unrealistically large procedures detrimental to patient health.

Update: November 1, 2019

ISHRS Warning

The ISHRS has started a campaign to combat fraudulent hair restoration practices around the world. The campaign is called FIGHT (or Fight the Fight), which stands for Fight the Fraudulent, Illicit & Global Hair Transplants.

July 6, 2019

China’s Hair Transplant Industry

This week, there were several important stories pertaining to hair transplants in China. Something we rarely read about in the US or Europe.

First, Chinese social media was abuzz with horror at malpractice and terrible training in China’s unlicensed hair transplant industry. This story via its related hashtag on Weibo has been read an insane 260 million times as of today.

Make sure to read my past post on hair transplants gone wrong.

Apparently China’s hair transplant industry was worth around $1.5 billion in 2018 per the earlier linked article. Also, a new article from the Turkish dailysabah paper estimates that country’s hair transplant industry hit $1 billion in 2018. A majority of this is accounted by foreign customers.

April 23, 2017

Hair Transplants Abroad

While this blog’s ultimate focus is on a cure for hair loss, virtually every month I write at least one post that is devoted to existing treatments. Hair transplants represent the most popular hair loss treatment option, and many people are visiting foreign countries for hair restoration work.

To date, I have written at least ten posts on hair restoration procedures. Hair transplants are currently the best treatment option for people who want to see an immediate improvement in their scalp’s appearance. In the hands of certified and highly experienced surgeons, hair transplants will usually result in favorable outcomes. However, even the best surgeons will have some failures and highly disappointed patients.

If you ever do decide to get a hair transplant, you will want to do a lot of research before proceeding. This includes checking out numerous patient testimonials on hair loss forums. Even better, examine and directly speak in person with patients located near you. Most experienced certified surgeons should have at least several of their patients located within a 100 mile radius of you. Especially if you reside in the US, Europe, India, Turkey or Thailand. It is imperative to see patients in person after their new hair has grown out.

Cheaper Hair Restoration Prices Abroad

In recent years, patients in developed countries where hair transplants can cost upwards of $15,000 have often decided to travel to poorer countries where the procedure can cost less than $5,000. The most popular countries for such lower-cost cosmetic hair transplant tourism procedures are probably India, Thailand and Turkey.

All three of the above mentioned countries are home to many extremely skilled and renowned hair transplant surgeons. This includes ones who regularly present at international hair transplant conferences and have authored hair transplant related textbook chapters.

However, the number of sketchy surgeons and clinics in these countries is also very large. Far more so than in developed countries. If you do not do sufficient research before going to a foreign country to get a hair transplant, you can get the shock of your life.

In the most extreme case, you can even die in a foreign land in the process of getting some hair moved from the back of your scalp to the front. And in case of any major injury, you might have an almost impossible task of taking a surgeon to court in a country that you might be visiting for the first time ever (and where your native language may not even be spoken).

Getting a Hair Transplant in Turkey

The reason I decided to write this post is because I recently read an article about Turkey’s booming hair transplant tourism industry. It is the first time that I have read something like this in a well known online publication in the US. Edit: There was another interesting story on this subject in Wired magazine in 2015.

While I was not surprised at reading about some of the sketchiness in Turkey’s underground hair transplant world, some of the descriptions and images are quite vivid. Apparently, hair restoration clinics in the country are “springing up like rabbits”. According to official data, 60,000 people from abroad came to Turkey last year for hair transplants. Around 90 percent of those came from the Middle East.

On many hair loss forums, you will read numerous testimonials from people in the western world who have gone to Turkey to get a hair transplant. Thankfully, most seem happy with the results, or at least not seriously injured. However, forum members tend to be much more educated about this subject matter and tend to only go to the most reputable hair restoration surgeons out there in Turkey.