Thanks to attractive services, hair transplants bring in more than one billion euros to the Turkish economy.
It’s not the bats, it’s Istanbul’s bat tourists. You inevitably come across them in the vicinity of the many hotels and restaurants in the small streets adjacent to Taksim Square. A band of white gauze around the head often replaces their usual scarf. Their skulls are still pitted with blood-red spots, sometimes purplish with a hematoma. The upper part of the face – the eyes included – is more or less swollen. They are distinguished by their dialect in Arabic: Iraqis, Saudis, Moroccans or other. They are between 35 and 55 years old. Most of the time, we see them at tables or walking in the streets with women and children. Because they often come with their families to extend the main purpose of their trip with a tourist stay: the fight against baldness.
Hair transplantation operations attract more than 100,000 men every year, the vast majority from Arab countries, to the shores of the Bosporus. Among them 30,000 Saudis who reportedly made the trip in 2016. Khaled, 36, is one of them. He had followed the example and advice of his older brother and two of his colleagues at a bank in Jeddah, where he lives. “This decision, which I made after a lot of hesitation, is one of the best of my life,” said the Saudi. “I am relieved every day looking at myself in the mirror. Before, the top of my bald head made me at least ten years old. I very rarely went out bareheaded, ”says the one who wore the traditional keffiyeh most often, like most men in the Wahhabi kingdom. Visibly satisfied with the results of the intervention on his hairstyle, he also praises the reception and medical conditions of the Istanbul clinic where he was operated.
On their Arabic page, Turkish hair transplant establishments compete to promote their medical skills. But also the offer of support services to their clients in the Middle East, as well as the postoperative insurance and guarantees they offer. They highlight their long experience, the good results confirmed by the before and after photos, the testimonials of those who “trusted them”.
Three to five day packages sometimes include the hotel. Usually, a welcome at the airport and a driver for the round trips on the day of the operation are also included. Not to mention the control visit twenty-four to forty-eight hours later. The implantation techniques are detailed, illustrated on the websites. Under local anesthesia and with about 20 injections into the skull, it takes between four and seven hours of operation, depending on the extent of the baldness. The follicles are first removed from the hairy areas, often at the back of the head. Then they are implanted on the smooth skull. “The pain is negligible and all it takes is a simple pain reliever for the next two days to not feel it,” they boast in advertising brochures.
The cost ranges from 1,000 to 2,500 euros, depending on the clinic and the size of the operation. “I paid a third of what I was asked to do in Jeddah for the same procedure,” says Khaled. Even counting the travel and the hotel stay, I’m still a winner. ”
The advantageous prices of flights from various Arab cities to Istanbul, added to the fact that most nationals of these countries do not need a visa to enter Turkey, contribute to the unprecedented rise of clinics Turkish. There are almost 400 of them in Istanbul alone.
This minor male surgery, which has become an industry, brings in more than 1 billion euros to the Turkish economy. It also has a ripple effect for other cosmetic procedures. Arab women accompanying their husbands for a hair implantation in Istanbul are increasingly tempted by liposuction of the hips. Or a nose reduction.