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.

64 thoughts on “Dangers of Getting a Hair Transplant Abroad”

      1. I am from turkey.in turkey as i follow up the ht forums dr erdogan is the best.ht is a team work i did my fue in my home town Antakya Antioch.i will get my third ht also in here
        .and the person who gonna make my ht isnt even a medical doctor.and it will coat $1000 for a session.dr erdogan however charges per unit each hair cost 2,5 euro.his patients are all from overseas.and i dont understamd how people die in the process of ht .

      2. Please let us know how your results go. The pictures from Cosmedica’s website look for professional. I’m sure you’ll be fine. How many grafts are you doing?

  1. Can anyone please tell me anything about hair transplant Dr. Masroor Alam. He is in Australia and I am thinking of having FUE with him.

    1. If the higher does of JAK grows substantially more hair than the lower does then say good bye to The Hair Transplant Industry.

      The Automobile replaced the Horse and Buggy Industry for good reason lets hope the hair loss industry has the same results as we need New Hair Now that is much better than all the alternative.

  2. I’m from the UK and travelled to Canada in 2010 for Dr Rahal. Great experience and outcome. Personally I would not risk countries such as you mention Admin. Too much at stake for a few thousand saving.

  3. Source: Journal of Investigative Dermatology (76th annual meeting April 26-29 2017)

    Conditional ablation of JAK-STAT5 signaling induces anagen hair growth
    E Wang1 and AM Christiano2 1 Columbia University, New York City, NY and 2 Columbia
    University, New York, NY
    We have previously shown that pharmacological inhibition of the JAK-STAT pathway using
    small molecule inhibitors during murine telogen can rapidly initiate anagen, suggesting the
    presence of an inhibitory factor that promotes quiescence in hair follicle stem cells (HFSCs)
    via this pathway. We have also shown that JAK-STAT3 and JAK-STAT5 pathways are prefer-
    entially and dynamically expressed in the HFSCs during murine telogen. To test the hy-
    pothesis that JAK-STAT signaling promotes hair growth, we used STAT5 floxed mice, together
    with two different inducible CreER drivers targeting the hair follicle (K5-CreERT2, K14-
    CreER). We showed that systemic tamoxifen treatment during mid-telogen (P60) for 4 days is
    sufficient to knock-out STAT5 expression in the epidermal compartment. Hair growth was
    initiated in the shaved telogen skin of K5-CreERT2 :: STAT5fl/fl and K14-CreER :: STAT5fl/fl
    mice after 3 weeks of tamoxifen treatment, and not in their wild-type littermates. Moreover,
    the new coat of hair in both knockouts grows in uniformly across the dorsum of the mice, in
    contrast to the patchy or wave-like pattern of spontaneous anagen seen in their wild-type
    littermates, consistent with an effect due to global genetic induction. Immunofluorescence
    studies localized pSTAT5 to the bulge region of the hair follicle during telogen, and this
    expression peaks at mid-telogen and disappears during the telogen-to-anagen transition.
    These observations support a dynamic regulation of JAK-STAT5 inhibition and activation
    throughout telogen, and provide genetic evidence for our previous work showing induction of
    anagen hair growth using small molecule JAK inhibitors

    Lots of interesting abstracts. Any thoughts on this one?

    1. Hopefully Aclaris JAK at a High Dose will deliver Great Results. Now we wait 5 months for an update on the low dose JAK trial and we wait 6 months for the beginning of the High Dose JAK Trials.

  4. Should be interesting to see if they elaborate on any of this at the conference. Plenty to be optimistic about. Jak inhibitors have already proven to activate depleted progenitor cells via stimulation of the stem cells in the follicle. They induce anagen and obviously block inflammation which seems to be more and more closely tied to AGA. They basically touch all the areas of the follicle affected by AGA. Hard to see how they couldn’t have at least some effect on humans. My belief is they’ll be able to revive damaged (thinning) follicles. The question for me is how far “gone” can they revive one. Probably won’t be bringing back a nw7 slick bald but that’s where cloning will come in.. which jaks have also shown to improve (enhance) the inductivity of cultured DP cells. Interesting times indeed.

  5. My plan is to get a hair transplant next year and not take finasteride and hope a cure pops up by the time i need a second to fill in any thin spots.. what you guys think

    1. I don’t think it’s a good idea to hold out for a cure. We could be waiting until 2030-2040.

      I don’t understand how all these celebrities are getting transplants? Do you guys think they’re all on Finasteride? Maybe in a few decades we’re going to have an entire slew of celebrities with patchy hair and white spots on the back of their heads from all these FUE procedures that have gone on.

    2. I think they are on fin. (As am I). However, keep in mind that a LOT of the so called celebrity transplants are just good hair systems or a lot of topic.

      1. What do you mean good hair systems? You think fake hair? Topic is natural remedies? You might be right, but people like Travolta and Elon Musk and Elton John have had some major work done. It’d be tough to think they could pull that off without surgery.

    1. It’s the same with anti-depressants. It’s like meds that are only meant to be taken short-term.

      Until stem cell hair comes along we’re all pretty much, except for the lucky few whose hair somehow stabilizes without Fin.

  6. has anyone ever heard of Dr. thomas Manste. he apparently has 23 years experience and did some work in the States and Canada. I met with him in person And he seemed good. he is located in Budapest hungary. I’m planning to get fue end of June. any suggestions?

  7. I totally agree with author; although there are reputable and experienced hair transplant surgeons -nearly all are my close friends and colleagues- in Turkey unfortunately there are not enough official control on Hairtransplant surgeries; many of the surgeries are done in ordinary apartment flats. Although they are done in hospitals and or licensed clinics its hard to find an accompanying physician! All the operations are done by technician (!) called ordinary guys. Although its my home country, its really sad for me to say black market in Hairtransplantation unfortunately has exceeded the licensed Hairtransplant market; thats why the prices are going down steadily. Bytheway physicians are not allowed by law to perform surgeries in their private offices in Turkey. I m 18 years experienced Turkish board Hairtransplant surgeon who found solution to move to Dubai for a better professional career because of the rising black market in Turkey. If you are planning to have HT surgery in Turkey please firstly ask:
    1-who will going to operate you : tech or surgeon?
    2-the place you re going to have surgery is an ordinary apartment-flat or a licensed Hospital
    3-incase you are informed that a physician will accompany your surgery, ask the doctor by name and ask their role in your surgery,
    anyway do your homework before travelling abroad for any surgery;
    I ll most probably have a lecture in ISHRS (international society of hair restoration surgery) annual meeting in Prague in octobre 2017, regarding the rising black market in Turkey.
    Cagatay Sezgin, M.D -Dubai

  8. I would never do an ht abroad except for that FUE Experts Dr couto. He seems very good. I would pick Konior, hassan and wong, rahal. Konior can now do diffuse hair loss transplants with a new technique that results in minimal shock loss. I may pull the trigger and do it this fall or winter.

    Quick question. For all you brand name Propecia users. Where do you buy your Propecia from? I get mine at CVS and I feel the taste of the Propecia is different. Some prescription tastes normal then the next month supply tasteless. I highly doubt it’s fake but anyone else have this issue?

    1. MJones, where can we see info about Konior’s work on diffuse patients? What are you referring to?

  9. What do you guys think about LA Hair Clinic in Pasadena? It’s not overseas and it’s expensive, but I’ve watched a number of their YouTube videos and seen the results on their Instagram. Pretty impressive stuff. I’d probably trust them more given the results they can show over the course of many years.

  10. Eh, there’s always risk. It’s up the individual to do the research. You’re right though, overseas it can be done for a fraction of the cost. And sometimes with excellent results. I would do it, if it was an option for me (it isn’t, unfortunately).

  11. When you consider the emotional distress that hair loss can cause, the consequences of botched surgery must be agonising (and utterly tragic in those very rare cases of fatality). It is a reminder that markets work best when they are appropriately and effectively regulated. That means thinking very carefully about the country in which the market operates. I’ve no doubt that Turkey has some excellent hair transplant surgeons and clinics; but I would not trust the Turkish authorities to properly monitor the bad apples. Nothing in life is certain, but I’d much rather travel to somewhere in the EU, like France. Yes, it’s going to be more expensive, but this isn’t something you’d want to take too many risks with.

    1. Thanks! Added in the post. Their next video will be on China’s cosmetics and plastic surgery industry. Please let me know if you see it as I am not bookmarking that channel.

      1. That’s why we need some kind of topical or systemic treatment. Tsuji and other similar “cures” would only mean theoretically unlimited transplants.

        1. I can’t tell, if it’s done right. I’ve seen some great ones. And I’d have to get pretty close to someone to spot if it’s not a natural hairline (it would have to have even bungled for me to notice from far away).

          I’ll take anything at this point. Any cure or anything that adds hair to my head.

  12. I had 5 HT procedures over 20 years.
    First in Paris with the French star-surgeon at the time, can’t remember his name though (lol)
    Second procedure in NY to correct the mess of the first one. Dr R.Bernstein (https://www.bernsteinmedical.com/): wow! this guy was good (still is), thus expensive.
    3rd and 4th in Sao-Paulo Brazil with Dr Arthur Tykocinski (https://www.cabelo.med.br/): my personal favorite (a bargain!). He’s an artist, has a fancy clinic with lovely nurses and… he speaks english very well.
    5th in Bangkok with the great Dr Path at the DHT Clinic (https://www.dhthairclinic.com/home/en): Very good too!!! nurses? …well it’s Thailand! (the Brazilian real was sky high at the time lol)
    A piece of advice: never go to a country or a clinic you didn’t research about. Visit it prior to make the choice. This is a surgery, you might die during these mega-sessions :-(
    If Money is not an issue, stay in the US ;-)

      1. It’s possible. Also depends on how many grafts each time. Some have really thick sides – I’m jealous. I’m curious why he didn’t stick with one surgeon, though, if he found one he liked.

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