New York City, NY

Beauty Tourism: Hair Transplants Growing in Popularity

Bryce Gruber

As travel opens back up, hair-seeking patients are ready to head to beyond their own borders for life-changing hair transplant procedures.

A hair transplant represents a potentially game-changing chance for men and women the world over -- and traveling to get one is certainly not off limits, especially with social distancing beginning to relax and travel opening back up. For this reason, millions of people have chosen to undergo a hair transplant in Turkey, whereas other cosmetic procedures and plastic surgeries have continued to rise in popularity on American soil (in fact, plastic surgery was the most-requested Christmas gift for New Yorkers of means last year).

Hair transplants can provide life-long results to people suffering from hair loss, receding hair lines, and other related issues. The results are typically permanent, so it is important to ask several questions before choosing a treatment plan. As of right now, American-based doctors in Phoenix, Arizona and Atlanta, Georgia have the best-running repuations domestically, but with inflation and the cost of the procedure being prohibitive to many, hair transplant tourism is becoming hot.

"I looked into getting a hair transplant a couple years ago, and just couldn't afford the price," Damien Michaels, 34, tells us. The Long Island, New York resident went to several consultations with New York-area doctors, and then decided he just couldn't swing the fees on American soil. "I could be halfway to a new Acura if I stayed in New York, so I started researching options in Mexico, Eastern Europe, and Turkey -- what I found was the best surgeons for this are in Turkey, and I can pay for all my travel costs, some vacation, and the surgery for less than I'd pay for the surgery alone in the New York area."

He continued explaining, "I don't get a chance to travel often, so paying a few thousand for the surgery plus using airmiles and enjoying cheaper-than-American hotels? You better believe I was into it," he says after being quoted $17,000 by a recommended Long Island surgeon. "I jumped at the chance when the quote came in from the Turkish doctor in Istanbul for less than a third of that price."

Here are the top five questions to ask your hair transplant surgeon before your procedure to ensure best possible results and satisfying outcomes.

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Dr. Serkan Aygin

Am I eligible for a hair transplant?

"Hair transplants are a viable option for a majority of people experiencing hair loss," says Dr. Serkan Aygin, a surgeon with a practice dedicated to hair transplants. "However, not everyone will be a suitable candidate. The only way to know for sure if a hair transplant is an appropriate treatment for you is to get a full consultation with a hair transplant surgeon. With that said, there are a few core guidelines that can be followed," he explains.

  • The most important factor is to determine the exact cause of your hair loss. Hair transplants are most effective for patients experiencing pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia).
  • The number and quality of healthy donor hair follicles play a key role in the success of a hair transplant surgery. A patient must have a considerable area of healthy hair, this is typically taken from the back of the head, though in certain cases beard hair or body hair may also be used.
  • Your hair loss must have stabilised. Hair loss tends to continue for many years before reaching a stable point. Receiving a hair transplant prematurely may result in subpar results later in life.

What method of hair transplant should I choose?

"The two most widely-used hair transplant methods today are Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Direct Hair Implantation (DHI). These two have a great deal in common, and the best choice typically depends on a patient’s particular needs."

  • FUE Method. A FUE hair transplant extracts healthy hair follicles from the donor area. Grafts are removed both individually and in small groups before being temporarily stored in a special solution. Afterward, the hair transplant surgeon creates a series of shallow channels in the recipient area and implants the hairs.
  • DHI Method. During a DHI transplant, the hair follicles are all extracted one-by-one and are immediately placed into the recipient area. This allows for more consistency in the angle and direction of new hair growth.
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Hair transplants, Turkey

When will I see results?

"Hair transplants are outpatient procedures that typically last no more than six hours. However, it can take over a year for the final results to appear. A general timeline for recovery is as follows."

  • One to three days Patients are advised not to touch, wash, or stress the hair. Keep your head elevated and avoid strenuous activity.
  • Three days Patients may begin washing their hair again, closely following all provided instructions.
  • Seven days After a week, the grafts will have taken hold. Patients Should still avoid scratching the area.
  • One month Patients will return to a pre-operative look.
  • Three months Over the first 1 to 3 months, it is normal for patients to experience “shock loss” where the new hair falls out. This is a normal part of the healing process.
  • Six months New hair growth will become visible.
  • 12 months Full results should be visible 12 to 18 months after the operation.

What kind of results should I expect?

"There are several factors that can affect a patient’s final outcome and no two people will have the exact same results. It is impossible to predict exactly how well the transplanted hair will take hold, though modern techniques have a regrowth rate of up to 98%."

  • Hair Texture Thick, curly hair provides better results as fewer grafts are needed to reach full coverage.
  • Hair Colour More specifically the contrast between the hair and skin colour. Light hair and light skin (or dark hair and dark skin) will provide the best results.
  • Extent of Hair Loss The ratio of healthy donor area to recipient area is crucial to a successful transplant.
  • Donor Area Density The density of healthy hair is very important. A donor area with multiple follicular unit groupings will provide the best results.

How long will the results last?

"Hair transplants are considered to be a permanent solution to hair loss. The hairs that are implanted are chosen to be the healthiest and most resistant to hair loss. However, nearly one-third of patients who undergo a hair transplant will opt for a second one within 10 years. This can be due to many things, including the following," he details.

  • Continued thinning of hair outside of the original hair transplant recipient site due to age
  • Loss of hair shaft diameter due to age
  • Experiencing other environmental and genetic factors

Only your hair transplant surgeon can tell you what you will be able to expect, but the statistics are pretty schocking. In fact, according to Business Insider, 35 million men and 21 million women suffer from alopecia or hair loss worldwide. Over 650,000 of them undergo hair transplant as the most effective treatment option annually.

Are you considering a cosmetic surgery? We would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with hair transplant surgeries in the comments section below.

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Bryce Gruber covers women's lifestyle content and news ranging from shopping to travel, beauty to parenting, wellness and delicious eating. Find her at @brycegruber on social media, and across a variety of women's lifestyle and parenting topics at TheLuxurySpot.com, Readers' Digest, Bravo, Parents.com, Martha Stewart, and on your TV screen through national talk shows including The Tamron Hall Show. She lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley with her five small children.

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