Category Archives: Hair Transplant

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.

Getting Addicted to Hair Transplants

Medications have enabled me to hang on to a large portion of my hair. However, the follicles are incapable of growing long due to a short anagen phase cycle throughout the scalp. The area above my ears cannot even grow one inch in length before dying or shriveling up. And some areas of my scalp are sparser than others.

How Many Hair Transplants do you Need?

Eventually, I will have to choose between shaving it all off or getting a hair transplant. Unless a greatly improved hair loss treatment comes along. I do not like the messy dishevelled look, nor a combover. I also do not like the idea of shaving my head every week in case I go for the barren look. I know I will shave weekly due to having some obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) tendencies.

One of the reasons that I am wary about getting a hair transplant is because I am certain that I will need more than one procedure. I feel like the vast majority of patients need two procedures. Moreover, if you are unlucky, even your “permanent” donor hair at the back of the scalp can thin out before old age. Meaning that over the years you may lose some of it after it is transplanted to the front, and then require a second hair transplant. My mother’s father lost most of his “permanent” donor hair before he hit his 70s, although he never took any hair loss medications.

Having said all of the above, according to the ISHRS 2022 practice census hair transplant statistics:

“Two-thirds (68.2%) of members reported performing an average of one procedure to achieve the desired hair restoration result. The average number of procedures needed to achieve the desired hair restoration result was 1.4.”

I would still go with my guess of 2.0 rather than 1.4. If the ISHRS were to follow these one-and-done patients for 20 years, I bet that the majority do end up getting a second hair transplant in the long run. Or at least wanting a second one, but not going through with it for various reasons.

Edit: Joe and Spencer on the July 28th Bald Truth show raised a great point that some of the patients who go for a second hair transplant with a different surgeon might not get counted as “two”. An accurate survey would poll the patients rather than the surgeons.

In the ISHRS census chart, only 28.6% of patients needed two procedures, and just 3.3% of patients needed three procedures.

Number of Hair Transplants
Number of hair transplants needed. Source: 2022 ISHRS Practice Census.

Obviously these statistics are impacted by many factors including:

  • The size of each procedure. FUE procedures tend to be smaller than FUT/Strip procedures. See my post on FUE versus FUT.
  • The need for any separate repair or scar revision surgeries.
  • Whether someone has a small body hair transplant (BHT) filler procedure.
  • Donor hair graft quantity and quality.
  • Scalp laxity when it comes to extraction.
  • Patient preference for a small versus large session.
  • Surgeon comfort level in performing larger one time megasessions (or even gigasessions).

It is extremely rare to hear of anyone who has had more than four hair transplants in their lifetime. Most people seem to get two and are done. However, some do go crazy.

Hair Transplant Addiction

On this site, I have covered the two most prolific hair transplant recipients in the world (Spex and Joe) many times.

Obviously, some of these procedures were very small and entailed repair work or scar revision. Joe had some initial surgeries to repair prior bad work. He also had a small body hair transplant procedure. I do not know much about most of Spex’s various procedures.

Both these major hair loss world influencers have access to their choice of leading surgeon. Moreover, I am assuming that they can get free procedures from any quality surgeon nowadays if they document the work in return.

I thought that no-one would ever come close to ever matching Joe and Spex when it comes to this crazy statistic. Besides the significant cost of a single hair transplant procedure, no-one I know likes to go under the knife on a regular basis. Then I read something crazy last week, and further research led to finding yet more anomalies.

Christopher Maloney had 8 Hair Transplants

Singer Christopher Maloney became a viral hit on the UK X Factor show in 2012. His major nervousness as well as stellar voice garnered him a lot of fans. Including 87 million views of the below video:

Last month, the Daily Mail covered the now 45-year old Mr. Maloney’s obsession with plastic surgery. He has “uncontrollable body dysmorphia”.

“My body dysmorphia, my anxiety and depression has taken over my life. In the past 12 months it’s gone into overdrive.”

One fact in the article struck me more than anything else:

Mr. Maloney has had 8 hair transplants (and 7 nose jobs)!

He seems to go to Poland for most of his procedures. In general, people who suffer from BDD will never be willing to get covered in the media. I have to give kudos to Mr. Maloney for sharing his story so publicly. And for having the courage to sing in front of the world.

Interestingly, in the Daily Mail article, Mr. Maloney blames stress for causing his initial hair loss. i.e. telogen effluvium. But that usually reverses itself after a while. In my opinion, he always had thin hair and likely suffers from androgenetic alopecia (AGA). Chris’s new hair looked good the last time he updated his Instagram a few months ago.

Joe Buck had 9 Hair Restoration Procedures

Well known US sports announcer Joe Buck had his eighth hair transplant in 2011. His story makes for a very interesting read. For a long time he lied to people about a surgery related side effect on his vocal cords in order to avoid discussing his “hair plug addiction”.

He had his first ever procedure in 1993 in New York at the age of 24.

“As a young man, one of Buck’s overwhelming fears was losing his hair, and the possibility soon consumed him.”

Edit: It looks like he had his 9th procedure in 2021 and discusses his results here.

Calum Best and James Nesbitt: 6 Each

  • Also of note, UK reality TV star Calum Best had his sixth hair transplant several months ago. It involved moving beard hair grafts (including from just beneath his neck) to his scalp. In his own words:

“I feel so much better about myself. If science can sort out a problem, why not use it if it is going to improve your mental health and put a smile on your face?”

Calum does not want to take medications such as Finasteride due to any potential side effects. So his hair loss has continued at a faster pace than that of hair restoration patients who are on hair loss drugs.

Cheyenne Jackson: 5 Hair Transplants in 14 Years

American actor Cheyenne Jackson has had five hair transplant procedures across 14 years. He calls his significant strip procedure scar “gnarly”. He had his first surgery at the age of 28. Both his hair loss and scar caused him anxiety and shame.