Medical tourists, and medical tourism, are not new. Throughout history, the sick has travelled to sacred or holy places to receive holy water, or to touch sacred objects in the hopes of being healed. The therapeutic hot mineral springs at Bath in the UK for instance have been attracting people from all around the world for centuries. In ancient Greece, the city of Epidauria had a famous and popular healing centre/sanctuary called the asclepeion. There are records indicating the sanctuary existed there at least as early as the 6th century BC. It was still in use as a Christian healing centre in the middle of the 5th century AD.
In recent times, it’s been common for patients from developing countries to travel to Europe, the UK, North America, and Australia for medical treatment not available in their own countries. Now though that tide is turning. Literally. Many developing countries like those in South East Asia have caught up medically and we’re now seeing patients from developed countries travelling to those countries for medical procedures!
However, it isn’t just South East Asia experiencing this growth in medical tourists. Countries like Costa Rica in Central America and Turkey are also offering affordable, world-class medical procedures for international patients. According to Medical Tourism Magazine, the top 10 destinations for medical tourists are:
- South Korea
- Hong Kong
- Costa Rica
As you can see, Turkey is the only ‘European’ country to make this list, and one of only 2 countries on there outside Asia. Therefore, for patients from Europe and the Middle East looking for affordable, quality medical treatment, Turkey is an obvious choice.
Some Bald Facts About Going Bald
According to a Chinese survey more men are going bald faster than ever before. Granted, the survey looked at Chinese men but authorities in other countries agree that it seems to be a global trend. The reason? The Chinese report named increasing levels of stress faced by men today as a primary reason whilst other research indicates that factors like changes in modern nutritional habits may also be playing a role.
However they’re going bald, the fact is that having hair transplant surgery to fix it is now one of the most popular elective surgical procedures for men. In 2016 for instance, the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery reported that some 80,000 hair restorative procedures were carried out in Europe alone. Eighty-five percent of those seeking the treatment were men.
Why having medical procedures such as a hair transplant done in Turkey makes a whole lot of sense!
There are a number of reasons why it makes sense, and saves cents, to consider having medical treatments like hair transplants done in Turkey.
• It’s a beautiful and historically significant location in which to combine medical treatment with a great holiday or a business trip. The therapeutic mud baths and natural thermal spa resorts here already attract around half a million health and wellness visitors per year.
• Turkey is now an acknowledged world leader in hair transplant surgeries. Over 5000 people a month come to Turkey for hair transplant surgery and for good reason. Many of the world’s top hair transplant surgeons like Dr Tayfun Oğuzoğlu are based here. Additionally, the number of hair transplant clinics now operating in Turkey has created competition between them. This competition drives progress as the clinics seek to stay ahead of other clinics by investing in the latest hair transplant technologies, training, and equipment. The ultimate beneficiaries of this competition are the patients!
• Significantly lower treatment costs (60 – 80% in some cases) than elsewhere, including other medical tourism destinations. The cost of a hair transplant procedure in Turkey costs on average $1,500 to $2,000 US. That compares more than favourably with the cost of identical procedures in the UK (£1,000 to £30,000), US ($4,000 to $15,000 USD), Australia ($2,000 to $30,000 AUD) and elsewhere.
• Waiting lists for most procedures are typically very short (around 2 weeks or less), even though some 800,000 people now visit Turkey annually for medical treatment.
• Turkey’s medical facilities are internationally accredited with up to the minute technologies and equipment available. There are now 45 JCI (Joint Commission International) accredited hospitals in Turkey, the most of any country in the region. Many of the hair transplant clinics in Turkey are accredited with the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS).
• The medical system is intensely regulated by the government to ensure compliance with global healthcare standards across a range of areas – ethics, hygiene and equipment maintenance, quality of care, certification of medical teams etc.
• Medical teams from the surgeons right down to the hospital support teams are highly qualified. Furthermore, because they now do so many of them, Turkey’s hair transplant surgeons are amongst the most experienced in the world, with expertise across a range of different hair types.
• There are dedicated medical tourism packages available that include a range of tailor-made services – translator, private room, private chef, your own staff, help with travel and accommodation, tour guides etc. You name it, it can be arranged for you. The packages are designed specifically to ensure patients receive the very best care and treatment from the minute they book their first appointment to the time they board their plane to go home.
• Most hospital staff are multi-lingual and speak English fluently.
To sum up, a combination of world-class medical facilities using the latest technologies and procedures like FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) and FUT (Follicular Unit Transplant), highly trained and skilled specialist hair transplant surgeons, affordable prices, and the ultimate in patient care packages has made Turkey the world’s leading destination for hair transplant surgery.
What You Should Generally Know About Getting A Hair Transplant
As with all surgical procedures, there are certain do’s and don’ts involved with hair transplant surgery. For example, not all hair loss scenarios are suitable for the surgery. Your medical professional can help you determine whether or not you may be a good candidate.
Start out with realistic expectations.
What types of hair loss are not suitable for hair transplant surgery?
What types of hair loss can be treated with hair transplant surgery?
If your hair loss is the result of any of the following, you may be a suitable candidate for hair transplant surgery:
- Pattern hair loss (androgenic alopecia)
- Scarring or burns (trauma hair loss)
- Traction alopecia and alopecia marginalis (from excessive pulling or tension on hair strands)
What medical conditions may affect my eligibility for a hair transplant?
A number of health and medical conditions can make someone either ineligible for a hair transplant or require appropriate medical treatment before being considered for a hair transplant. This includes:
- Diabetes –
- Patients with Non Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM or Type 2 diabetes) who can control their blood sugar levels either by diet or with medications may be eligible for hair transplant surgery so long as their diabetes is under control prior to surgery and can be controlled during and after surgery.
- Patients with Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM or Type 1 diabetes), or with insulin resistance in the brain (sometimes referred to as Type 3 diabetes) are not eligible for hair transplant surgery.
- Hypertension (high blood pressure) – blood pressure must be stabilised prior and during the hair transplant procedure in patients suffering from hypertension. Even so, some clinics don’t accept patients with very high blood pressure.
- Heart disease – some clinics do not accept patients with heart disease for hair transplant surgery. Contact the individual clinics for more information about their policies in this regard.
- Hepatitis – people with inactive forms of hepatitis or with non-blood borne hepatitis a and hepatitis e may be eligible for hair transplant surgery on a case-by-case basis. Generally, health regulations in Turkey prevent hair transplant clinics from accepting patients with any blood borne diseases and they are required to perform blood tests on new patients accordingly. Your best option is to contact your chosen hair transplant clinic in Turkey and talk to them.
- HIV / AIDS – as with hepatitis, Turkish health regulations prohibit clinics from accepting patients with HIV/AIDS. However, contact the clinic and discuss it with them.
- Skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis – whilst these skin conditions can cause hair loss, it’s usually temporary and natural hair regrowth typically happens once the problem has been treated.
Where does the hair for my hair transplant come from?
Hair transplants use your own scalp hair. This avoids rejection and the need to spend the rest of your life taking immune-suppressant drugs. The hair is taken from donor sites on the back, and sometimes the sides, of your head. Incidentally, scalp hair is also used for other hair transplant procedures such as eyelash and eyebrow hair transplants.
Why have I retained scalp hair in these areas?
With ‘pattern’ hair loss, the loss of hair follows a particular pattern. In men, pattern hair loss occurs over the front, top, and crown of their head where the hair follicles are most affected by DHT. There is also some evidence that factors like scalp tension and impeded blood supply to the scalp affect hair loss too. Either way, men with pattern hair loss retain normal hair growth on the sides and back of the head. These areas are where the hair for their hair transplant is harvested.
Why do these areas make the best donor sites?
Does my hair type and/or colour affect my hair transplant?
The denser your hair is, the more donor hair you’ll have. Hair density refers to the number of follicles per square centimetre, or square inch, of scalp. Your hair transplant surgeon will measure this at your first appointment to determine if you have sufficient hair density for a transplant. Not everyone does.
Whilst good hair transplant results can be obtained with most hair types, coarse wavy or curly hair that is a similar colour to the person’s skin gives the best results. This is because the individual hairs are thicker and require fewer hairs to achieve a good appearance of cover. Wavy or curly hairs likewise cover more scalp and as they also tend to stand upright, produce a thicker appearing cover. Hair that is a similar colour to the underlying skin has less contrast, which again gives the illusion of being denser. However, good hair transplant surgeons like our Drs Tayfun Oğuzoğlu and Ilker Apaydın are very experienced with all hair types and nationalities.
The elasticity and laxity of your scalp skin (scalp laxity) is another important consideration that will affect your hair transplant. The higher these are, the more hair grafts can be transplanted.
What is a hair loss diagnosis test, and will I require one?
Deciding to have hair loss surgery is just the first step in a long series of steps. The first procedure after making this decision is having a hair loss diagnosis done to find out the cause of your hair loss as this will determine whether you’re eligible for hair transplant surgery. Some clinics will ask you to provide these results prior to accepting you as a patient. Other clinics will perform the tests themselves. However, if you’re travelling from another country to Turkey for hair transplant surgery you probably should consider having it done at home first or you could find you’ve wasted time and money on the trip only to find that you’re not eligible for surgery.
Your dermatologist, or the clinic, will first order a blood test to rule out hair loss from autoimmune diseases like lupus, hyperthyroidism, vitamin deficiencies, or erratic hormone levels as hair loss caused by these conditions are not suitable for hair transplant surgery. In most cases, hair regrowth will happen naturally once these disorders have been successfully treated.
Next a hair analysis will be performed. The dermatologist or surgeon will study a sample of your hair under a microscope to check for lice or fungus, calculate the rate at which you’re losing hair, and assess any structural damage to the hairs.
A densitometry test will then be run to determine if any hair follicles are shrinking. The densitometer does this by comparing the number of normal sized hairs to the number of thinner hairs. If these 3 tests fail to provide a clear diagnosis, a scalp biopsy will be done. A small sample of your scalp skin will be collected and sent to a laboratory for tests.
Is my age important when it comes to a hair transplant?
Is hair transplant surgery covered by health insurance?
In most cases, hair transplant surgery is considered a cosmetic (aesthetic) procedure and therefore not covered by health insurance or public medical funding. However, in cases where it’s done for reconstructive purposes (to restore hair loss caused by extensive or disfiguring scarring for example) it’s considered plastic surgery and is covered by health insurance.
How many hair follicles will I need extracted?
How many hair follicles will need to be collected depends entirely on the area that needs to be ‘replanted’ and the density of hair required in those areas. Your hair transplant surgeon will determine this at your first appointment. As a general rule average hair density is around 60 – 85 follicular units per square centimetre. In a hair transplant doctors try to implant 30-45 grafts per square centimetre.
What is a follicle?
What are follicular units?
What is a graft?
A medical graft is living tissue that is surgically removed from one part of the body and transplanted into another part of the body. In hair transplant surgery, graft refers to both the strip of skin collected in a strip procedure, and the hair follicle units extracted individually via a FUE procedure.
What areas usually receive new hair first?
In most cases, the hairline and front of the head will receive hair first, particularly if multiple sessions are involved. This is because these areas impact the most on a person’s appearance as they frame the face. The crown is usually left until last because it’s not visible to a person standing in front of you. Obviously though if this is the only bald spot, it will be treated straight away.
How long does a hair transplant take?
How long a hair transplant session takes depends on:
- The number of implants required, which in turn depends on the size of the area to be transplanted.
- The method used to collect donor follicles.
- The method used to make the recipient channels or incisions.
- The experience of the hair transplant surgeon and/or hair transplant team in general.
Normally, the longest parts of the procedure are extracting the hair follicle units and implanting them, both of which can take between one and three hours each.
How many hair transplant procedures will I need?
The total number of hair transplant sessions needed depends on several factors:
- How much hair has already been lost
- How much more hair you’re likely to lose and how fast (your projected hair loss rate)
- How much donor hair you have available
- Your health
- Various other artistic considerations
The good news for many men though is that quite often the desired results can be achieved in one or two sessions due to the fact that thousands of hairs in follicular units of up to 4 hairs apiece can be transplanted in a single session. These single sessions may take between 5 and 10 hours depending on the method and the number of implants.
Will I need to go into hospital for my hair transplant?
The Different Types Of Surgical Hair Transplants Available In Turkey
FUE, FUT, DHI, Sapphire FUE? Strip or FUE harvest? What are they and which one is better for me?
Today it’s common to think of hair transplant surgery in terms of ‘two’ particular procedures. The actual situation is bit more complex than this, for reasons we’ve gone into in this post. However, for the purposes of this guide, we’ve kept it short and simple. The two surgical hair transplant ‘procedures’ are generally referred to as Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). Direct Hair Implants (DHI) and sapphire FUE are derivatives of FUE that use more advanced implanting tools and procedures.
Harvesting Follicles – the FUT strip vs the less invasive FUE
The strip harvest method (FUT)
FUT is the older of the 2 methods; it was developed in the 1990’s as an alternative to previous more invasive forms of hair transplant surgeries. Harvesting the hair follicle units for a FUT transplant is done via the strip method, which involves cutting a thin strip, or strips, of scalp skin complete with hair follicle units from a donor area at the back of the head. The strip is then dissected into individual follicular units for transplant. The lesion left by the removal of the strip is stitched or stapled closed and a thin scar line will eventually result.
The advantages of the FUT strip harvest method include:
- It’s faster – a lot more follicle units can be harvested in the few minutes it takes to excise the strip of scalp skin.
- Less risk of damage to the harvested follicles as the strip is made deep enough to collect protective underlying skin tissues around the follicles.
- The donor area required for harvesting follicles is relatively small.
- Less shaving as only the area where the strip will be taken from is affected.
- Most clinics don’t charge as much for hair transplant surgeries with strip harvesting as it doesn’t take as long, doesn’t use specialised equipment, and doesn’t require quite as much expertise to collect the graft.
- It leaves a bigger scar than other follicle harvesting methods.
- The graft incision takes longer to heal, and often requires returning to have the stitches / staples removed.
- There is more chance of infection with the more invasive nature of the graft collection.
- There may be permanent damage to nerves and vascular tissues surrounding the excised strip.
- Potentially more pain.
- It may be hard to perform on patients with not much scalp laxity.
FUT strip harvesting is best suited to patients who:
- Don’t mind the scar.
- Don’t have as much donor hair.
- Have large bald areas to be treated.
- Are happy to wear their hair longer to hide the scar.
- Don’t mind the longer recovery rate.
- Want the cheaper option whilst still being assured of good results.
The Follicular Unit Extraction method – FUE Method
FUE harvesting is far less invasive. The individual follicular units are isolated using a micro punch prior to extraction with forceps. The punch may be manual but most clinics today use micro-motor driven needles to punch out the follicles. These motorised punches can produce a lot more grafts in a single session than the manual punches, which reduces overall surgery times and often the number of surgeries required.
The advantages of FUE harvesting include:
- Minimally invasive extraction techniques that cause less trauma to the skin.
- Virtually no visible scarring unless you like your hair very short.
- Rapid healing time.
- Less risk of infection with the smaller incisions.
- Virtually no pain.
- Can be used in low-density donor areas.
The disadvantages of FUE harvesting include:
- Requires a larger donor area as the follicles are harvested from a broader area.
- More donor scalp area needs to be shaved.
- There is a risk of damage to the follicles if done by less skilful practitioners.
FUE harvesting is best suited to patients who:
- Want a speedy recovery.
- Don’t like invasive surgery.
- Are prone to scarring problems ie keloid scars.
- Have low-density donor areas.
How Your Transplanted Hair Follicles Are Implanted
Once your follicles have been harvested, they need to be implanted. Currently, your harvested follicles, whether from a FUT strip graft or FUE’s individually extracted grafts, are transplanted in one of 2 ways, or variations thereof – slit and channel (percutaneous)
The slit method is the older of the two and involves making a small slit in the recipient scalp skin into which the harvested hair follicles are placed. Whilst it was an advance on previous methods of implanting, it’s now largely been superseded by an even more effective technique referred to as a channel or percutaneous hair transplant, or a perkutan hair transplant.
Channels are small round ‘holes’ the same depth and diameter as the harvested hair follicle units. The graft units fit neatly into the channels, where the snug fit holds them in place. This method prevents the grafts moving around and also being dislodged. It has many advantages over the older slit implant method, which we’ve outlined in more detail here [link to article I just wrote].
What ıs Direct Hair Implant (DHI) Surgery?
DHI is a derivative of the FUE procedure. The difference lies not in the harvesting of the follicles, which is identical to FUE harvesting, but in the method of implanting the hair follicles. As the hair follicle units are extracted, they’re loaded into a special transplanting pen called a Choi transplanter. The pen is designed to make a channel in the recipient area of scalp and deposit a hair follicle unit into it at the same time. This does away with the need to store the hair follicles in protective solution whilst the implanting channels or incisions are made.
What ıs Sapphire FUE Hair Transplant?
This is also a derivative of the FUE procedure. The only difference to the regular FUE procedure is that a V shaped scalpel blade made out of sapphire is used to create the implant incisions. The sharp point and V shape allows the surgeon to make miniscule punctures that heal up very quickly and leave undetectable scars.
Non-Surgical Hair Treatments In Turkey
Some men don’t require hair transplant surgery, or are considered too young to have it just yet (their hair loss pattern hasn’t yet stabilised). For these men, one of the non-surgical hair loss treatments may be recommended. There are currently 2 FDA approved non-surgical hair loss treatments.
Minoxidil / Rogaine
One of the FDA approved treatments is Rogaine or Minoxidil, a topical liquid or gel product suitable for both men and women experiencing pattern hair loss. It’s not used to treat other types of hair loss and should not be used anywhere other than on the scalp. Minoxidil is applied daily and typically takes around 6 months before a reduction in hair loss and new hair growth is noticed. It’s also a long-term treatment and needs to be kept up in order to maintain results.
Finasteride / Propecia
PRP or platelet-rich plasma therapy
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration from US Government) hasn’t yet approved PRP therapy for hair transplants but it is being used by a number of hair transplant clinics as an adjunct to hair transplant surgery. It can also be used as a hair loss treatment on its own. PRP therapy has been used very successfully in the sports world for some time to improve healing times and outcomes for some types of sporting injuries.
Multiple PRP treatments are generally required to achieve optimum results.
The Steps Involved In A Hair Transplant Procedure
Hair transplant procedures typically follow a series of steps, regardless of which procedure is being done.
- When you arrive for your surgery and have been prepped, the surgeon will mark out the boundaries of your new hairline with a marking pen. Once you’ve agreed on the ‘design’, your hair transplant procedure begins in earnest.
- The hair over your donor area will be shaved or cut in preparation for harvesting the follicles. How much is shaved depends on how big the donor area needs to be. With a strip harvest, only the immediate area where the strip will be taken from is shaved. With FUE harvesting, hair follicles are collected from a wider area so the shaved area will of necessity be larger. Your hair and scalp may also be washed with an antiseptic solution to reduce the risk of infection although some clinics ask you to do this prior to arrival.
- The donor area will be numbed with a local anaesthetic.
- The hair grafts will be taken. How depends on the type of transplant procedure. If you’re having a strip harvest, the surgeon will remove the strip or strips of skin from the donor region at the back of your head and place it in a preserving saline or HypoThermosol solution. The sides of the incision will then be pulled together and secured with sutures or staples.With a FUE harvest or one of its variants, the grafts will be isolated individually using a manual or motorised punch then extracted with medical forceps. It can take several hours to extract all the follicle units required for the transplant. As soon as they’re extracted, the grafts are placed in a saline or HypoThermosol solution.If you’re having a DHI hair transplant the extracted follicle units are placed into a Choi transplanting pen and almost immediately transplanted, which removes step 5 from the process.
- In a strip procedure the harvested strip is next dissected into its constituent follicular units, counted, and sorted according to the number of hairs in each unit. The sorted follicles are usually put into a sectioned Petri dish containing preserving solution. The number of hairs determines whereabouts on the recipient area each follicle unit ends up. One or two hair units are preferred for hairline restoration whilst 3 or more hair units are used on the top and back of the head.For FUE harvested follicles, they’re counted at this stage so that the same number of channels or slits can be made in the recipient region.
- Once the number of channels or incisions required has been ascertained, the recipient area of the scalp is numbed with local anaesthetic and the surgeon goes to work opening the channels/making the incisions. They’re made with either a scalpel blade (incisions) or a needle (channels) the same gauge as the extracted hair follicle units. Newer implant procedures may use a V shaped sapphire scalpel blade rather than the traditional U shaped metal ones. The hair transplant surgeon always performs this part of the procedure because it requires experience and knowledge of hair patterns and correct follicle alignment to ensure a natural looking result.In a DHI transplant, steps 5 and 6 are combined – the hair follicles are loaded into the Choi transplanting pen immediately after extraction. The pen is then used to open the implanting channel and implant the grafted hair follicle unit at the same time. Again, a specially trained hair transplant surgeon always carries out this procedure to ensure the best, most natural result.All up, this part of the procedure can take between 1 and 3 hours depending on how many channels or incisions are required, and how they’re being made.
- When all the channels or incisions have been made, the process of implanting the grafted hair follicles begins. You may find this is done by a technician or a team of technicians. Time again depends on the number of grafts to be implanted, and the number of people working on it.
FAQ’s About The Hair Transplant Procedure
What can I expect immediately after my hair transplant surgery?
- Mild bleeding – this is normal with any skin lesion and should cease within 4 or 5 days after surgery.
- Mild swelling- again, this is normal and should disappear along with the bleeding within the first week.
- Scabbing – the skin around the transplanted hair follicles will develop scabs as part of the repair process. They will begin to fall off around a week to 10 days after surgery.
- Hair loss – the hair in the newly transplanted follicles will fall out a few weeks after the surgery. This is caused by the ‘shock’ of being transplanted. Whilst it may be alarming, it’s also normal and is only the hairs. The follicles themselves stay put and after several months will begin to produce new hairs. By 6 to 9 months the new hair growth will be noticeable.
- If you had a strip graft, the sutures or staples will need to be removed around 14 days later.
How do I take care of my newly transplanted follicles?
You will be sent home with a list of instructions and medications. Following these instructions, and using the medications as directed, will considerably reduce the chances of things going wrong and greatly increase your chances of healing properly.
Generally, effective post-operative care following hair transplant surgery includes:
- Keeping the incision sites (donor and recipient) clean. You’ll be advised to start gently washing your hair from the first (or second) day after surgery – this will also help prevent the scabs from adhering to the transplanted hairs and potentially dislodging the grafts. However, avoid putting the grafted sections on your head directly underneath the shower spray jets for at least the first 4 to 5 days.
- Using the prescribed medications to reduce the risk of infection
- Taking the prescribed pain relief as needed to avoid unnecessary discomfort
- Making sure your hands are clean when touching your incisions
- Protecting the recipient area from the sun
- Not scratching your head if it gets itchy
- Spending at least one (but preferably 2 or 3) days resting
- Sleeping with your head elevated at a 45o angle for several nights to reduce swelling
- Avoiding aspirin (you’ll be given other pain killers to take) for 3 to 5 days
- Not smoking or drinking alcohol for 3 to 5 days
- Not doing any heavy lifting or other strenuous physical activities for the first week after surgery
- Avoiding exposure to dirt and dust for a fortnight or until the incisions heal over.
- Not swimming in chlorinated water for a month
- Avoiding hot hair dryers for a month
Will I continue to lose hair after my hair transplant?
Hair transplants do not stop pattern hair loss. Therefore, unless you take medications to reduce this, your hair loss in DHT susceptible areas will continue. However, you won’t (permanently) lose the hair produced by your transplanted follicles because they’ve been harvested from DHT resistant areas of your scalp and they remain DHT resistant even after transplant.
Younger men who have had hair transplant surgery may find they require further procedures as they get older to restore progressively balding areas. This is part of the reason why the surgery is not recommended for men in their early 20’s or younger.
How can I help prevent further pattern hair loss after my hair transplant surgery?
Several non-invasive, non-surgical hair loss treatments are available that complement hair transplant surgery in Turkey. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment of both the recipient area of the scalp and the follicular grafts prior to transplant can considerably speed up healing and growth.
Using specially formulated shampoos and hair lotions with Minoxidil can also help promote better scalp and hair follicle health, leading to improved results for your transplanted hairs. Minoxidil will also effectively help reduce further pattern hair loss. There are also other hair loss shampoos and lotions available with natural compounds like Saw Palmetto and zinc that help reduce hair loss.
Finasteride is an oral medication that can significantly reduce DHT levels in your scalp and prevent further pattern hair loss in DHT susceptible areas from occurring. This may reduce the likelihood of future hair transplant surgeries.
Dermatologists and hair loss clinics will often tell you that the one of the most common causes of hair loss they treat is caused by nutritional deficiencies. Healthy hair and skin needs a range of vitamins, minerals, and protein to grow properly and deficiencies in any of these can interrupt the hair growth cycle. When this happens general hair thinning across the scalp, and conditions like Telogen Effluvium, may occur. Getting into the habit of eating a well-balanced diet or adding a quality dietary supplement designed to improve hair health will help your hair and scalp health enormously.
How long will it be before I can expect to see new permanent hair growth?
Your new hair will follow a fairly predictable hair growth timeline. Within the first month, the newly transplanted hairs will shed out, leaving behind the follicles that will begin to produce new hair growth. Most hair transplant patients don’t see this new hair growth for at least 3 or 4 months post surgery. Initially too your new hairs may be lighter in colour, weak, and brittle. Don’t despair however as they will become more ‘normal’ as time progresses!
By around 6 months, there should be a noticeable difference in your hair cover. Your new hairs will be starting to return to their normal colour and strength and will continue to do so over the ensuing months. By 12 months, the final results are in! You’ll now have as full a head of hair as you’re going to get from this particular surgery. Remember, how much hair you’ll have depends entirely on the availability of suitable donor hair at the time of surgery. Your new hair can also be treated just like the rest of your hair.
How much pain will I experience during my hair transplant?
Both the donor and the recipient areas are numbed with local anaesthetic prior to collecting and implanting so you don’t feel any pain at all during the procedure. You’ll also be given pain relief immediately after surgery to help once the anaesthesia wears off. After the transplant, you’ll be advised about painkillers and given a prescription but for most patients standard over the counter medications are sufficient.
You will however be sitting for several long periods of time, notably during the follicle extraction and implanting sessions and this may get uncomfortable for some people.
Does hair transplant surgery leave much scarring?
A strip harvest will leave a thin scar across the back of your head (or wherever the donor site was) where the graft strip was removed. In most cases, the surgeon will carefully choose a site that is normally covered by your hair so the scar isn’t visible.
However, if you naturally prefer short hair, the scar may visible under those circumstances.
FUE harvesting leaves tiny circular scars throughout the donor area but again these are typically not visible once your hair grows back.
All procedures will leave tiny scars in the recipient area; shape and size depends on the instrument (needle or scalpel) used to make them. A V shaped sapphire scalpel leaves virtually no scarring. In all cases, as the transplanted hair grows these get covered over and are effectively undetectable to anyone with an untrained eye.
How soon after my hair transplant surgery can I resume regular activities?
How quickly you can resume your normal life depends once again on the type of hair transplant surgery you’ve had done, particularly the type of harvesting procedure. A strip graft for example takes longer to heal and you may be advised to rest up for a few days if you’ve had one.
For FUE harvests, recovery time is rapid and patients can often return to light regular activities the day after the procedure. Once again though some clinics will still recommend giving yourself a day or two to recover.
What Are the Risks Involved With Hair Transplant Surgery?
All surgical procedures that involve breaking the surface of the skin carry risks. You can however minimise these by:
- Following pre-surgery instructions to the letter
- Following post-surgery instructions similarly
- Ensuring you’re in the best health you possibly can be by paying attention to lifestyle factors like nutrition and exercise
- Quitting smoking prior to surgery – smoking can severely inhibit your body’s ability to heal
Even so, you may experience the following complications:
- Bleeding – any procedure that breaks the surface of the skin carries the risk of some bleeding and hair transplant surgery is no different. Both pre and postoperative care procedures are designed to minimise this however. Obviously if you experience abnormal bleeding, seek immediate medical attention.
- Swelling – some swelling usually occurs around the incisions in both the donor and recipient regions. Swelling though is your immune system doing its job by sending additional blood cells to the area to fight off infection and start the repair processes. Normally it’s mild and goes down after a few days. If you experience major swelling, including bruising around the eyes, get immediate medical attention.
- Scarring – this is also part of the repair process and is the connective tissues in your skin closing up the surgical incisions. As previously mentioned, a strip harvest will leave a long, thin scar whilst FUE harvest methods leave tiny spot scars in the donor region. The implant incisions or channels will also leave tiny scars but in most cases all scars are hidden by normal hair growth.
- Pain – this is minimal because you’ll be given both local anaesthetic during surgery and pain-killers post surgery.
- Infection – this is always a risk with any type of surgery or lesion that breaks the skin’s surface. It is however reasonably rare with hair transplant surgery. You will be given precise instructions for taking care of your incision sites after surgery, including how to keep them clean. However, if you find that you do develop infections, contact the clinic or seek medical advice. You’ll know if this is happening because symptoms like swelling, redness, burning, itchiness, bleeding and general discomfort will get worse rather than abating as they should if the healing process is going well.
- Itching and acne like lesions – as your transplanted follicles begin to enter new growth phases around 2 to 3-months post surgery you may find your scalp develops what appears to be acne. The correct name for it though is folliculitis, which is inflammation of the hair follicles. If you’ve been following instructions for keeping your scalp and hair clean and disinfected, it’s not likely to be an infectious type of folliculitis but rather your body attempting to remove weakly growing hairs in the transplanted follicles. These hairs can’t push through the pores on their own so the body’s defence mechanism is to produce inflammation and liquids to help ‘float’ them out. The inflammation often causes itching but don’t give in to the temptation to scratch as this could dislodge the transplanted follicles. It’s also important not to burst these pockets of infection. Typically, regular shampooing with medicated shampoos under warm running water, topical antibiotics and/or medical alcohol are used to control it. In more severe cases, oral antibiotics may be prescribed. Your surgeon or dermatologist however will provide precise instructions on how to treat the condition.
- Thinning of existing hair – this is rare but some patients do find their existing hair thins out after hair transplant surgery. In most cases it’s temporary and stops after several months.
- Rejection – because the transplant uses your own hair follicles rejection shouldn’t happen but very occasionally it does.
- Allergic reactions – some people experience an allergic reaction to the anaesthesia. In very rare cases, it can be fatal.
- Nerve and vascular damage – sometimes nerves and vascular tissues are damaged during surgery, notably with strip harvest procedures. It may be permanent, particularly the nerve damage, resulting in lasting loss of sensation. This is why it’s important to choose a surgeon that is very experienced in hair transplant procedures to reduce the chances of this happening.
If you have any concerns at all about any of the above, or if you experience any of these, contact the surgeon or clinic for advice and assistance.
Planning Your Trip For A Hair Transplant In Turkey
Choosing The Right Hair Transplant Surgeon In Turkey
As with all surgeries, and particularly aesthetic procedures like hair transplants, the experience and skill of the surgeon plays an important role in the outcome and its success, or otherwise. In choosing to have a hair transplant in Turkey, you’re already assured of a choice of hair transplant surgeons with experience in a wide range of hair types due to the sheer volume of hair transplants that are performed here.
Further to this, spend some time (a lot of time) doing your homework.
- Accreditation – it goes without saying that the surgeon or clinic must be accredited. Visit the ISHRS or ABHRS for a list of accredited hair transplant surgeons in Turkey. Check JCI as well. If the surgeon / clinic is accredited with these international medical associations it’s a good indication that they follow the medical and surgical guidelines required to remain accredited. Also, check to make sure they’re accredited with the Turkish government.
- If you can find a hair transplant surgeon that is an acknowledged leader in the field and trains other surgeons in the latest hair transplant techniques, so much the better.
- Visit clinic websites:
- Look at their before and after photos.
- Read patient reviews and not just the ones on the clinics own site!
- Check their Google star rating as this can be an important indicator of both how long they’ve been in business and the quality of service rendered.
- Visit hair loss forums and ask for recommendations and experiences.
- Free first consultation – make sure they offer this. It’s important for establishing the cause of your hair loss and whether you’re eligible for the surgery. You can also use this consultation to discuss the best hair loss treatment or surgical procedure for your situation.
- Comprehensive post surgery services – hair transplant surgery is not an instantaneous fix and does come with risks so your clinic of choice should have a policy of keeping track of their patients right through to full recovery.
- Who will be doing the surgery – for preference you want it to be a hair transplant surgeon not hair transplant technicians.
- Are their fees lineball – their fees should be in the same ballpark as other clinics. Obviously there may be variations according to the surgeon’s experience, location, practice equipment etc but be wary of any clinic that is significantly cheaper than everyone else. There’s probably a good reason for the low prices like unqualified surgeons, risky cost cutting, or poor standards overall.
In other words, don’t just rush out and book yourself into the first clinic you find!
Choosing The Right Hair Transplant Method
An Overview Of Your Trip To Turkey For A Hair Transplant
The Initial ConsultATION, Which Should Be Free
When you conducted your extensive research to find exactly the right Turkish hair transplant clinic for you, you will have made sure they offer a free initial consultation. This is important because it’s at this consultation that your eligibility for hair transplant surgery will be assessed. To this end, the clinic will request you supply the following types of information:
- Recent photos of your scalp that show the degree of hair loss, where it is, and also your donor areas. The surgeons at the clinic will use these photos to help determine if you have enough donor hair for the transplant.
- A copy of the results of a recent hair loss diagnostic test (we’ve explained this process elsewhere in this guide)
- Blood test results (to make sure you don’t have any of the blood borne disorders we’ve listed above that make you ineligible for hair transplant surgery in Turkey)
- Results of any diagnostic tests you’ve had done to diagnose the underlying cause of your hair loss. If you’ve not had these done, you’ll be asked to arrange it with your dermatologist. It is possible for international patients to have these tests done in Turkey upon arrival but it’s not generally recommended because if the tests reveal you’re not eligible for surgery, you’ll be significantly out of pocket with nothing to show for it. Hair transplant clinics in Turkey do not pick up the tab for travel to get to Turkey.
- Information about any health issues you may have, medications you’re on, your medical history and other related factors.
Booking your transport to Turkey
Arriving in Turkey
What medical conditions may affect my eligibility for a hair transplant?
What medical conditions may affect my eligibility for a hair transplant?
The day after surgery
Preparing For Your Hair Transplant Surgery
Most hair transplant clinics will provide you with a list of pre surgery do’s and don’ts. It will include the following:
- For at least 4 days (some clinics prefer 2 weeks) before your surgery
- Don’t take blood thinning medications like aspirin
- Don’t take anti-inflammatory drugs
- Don’t take vitamins B and E
- Don’t drink any alcohol
- Don’t smoke
- The night prior to the operation get a good night’s sleep
- Wash your hair
- Don’t drink coffee or other drinks with caffeine in them, particularly on the day of your surgery
- Make sure you wear comfortable clothing; any clothing that needs to be pulled over your head should have wide necks so they don’t touch your scalp. Comfortable shoes are also recommended.
- On the day of your surgery have a light breakfast but as we’ve already mentioned, skip your usual morning cup of coffee.
- Don’t use hair products like gels or styling mousses.
Making The Most Of Your Time In Turkey
Once you’ve been given the all-clear after your surgery, the clinic has run through your post-operative care instructions, and given you the medications and prescriptions you’ll need, you’re free to either return home or spend some time in this glorious part of the world. You may prefer to spend the first few days just taking it easy; in fact the clinic will recommend you do that. Even so, there’s no shortage of things to do and see in Turkey.
From ancient monuments that tell the tale of Turkey’s ancient history, to modern structures designed to cater for the growing tourism industry, there’s a little bit of something for everyone. Turks are famous for their coffee, their tea and their excellent cuisine, plenty of which you’ll find in Istanbul if that’s where you’ve had your surgery. And whilst we certainly don’t recommend you head off on a horseback tour of the famous Cappadocia region just yet, many other exciting Turkish adventures await you. Here are a few of our favourites:
- The Grand Bazaar and its famous spice market
- Gaze out over Istanbul from the giddy heights of the Galata Tower
- Check the amazing architecture of the Hagia Sophia
- Hang out with the ghosts of Ottoman royalty in the Topkapi Palace
- Get an insight into the rich cultural history of this part of the world at any of the museums
- Step back in time in Ephesus, one of the last remaining and most complete Roman cities in the region
- Marvel at the tumbling snowy white wonder of Pamukkale