Guys Worried About Hair Loss Are Heading to Turkey in Droves

A new kind of medical tourism

Hair loss
Hair transplants are a growing part of medical tourism.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

There’s a lot that’s been written over the years about medical tourism — for instance, Americans heading to Mexico for less expensive bariatric surgery. While that’s a big reason why some people are opting to go abroad for medical procedures, it’s far from the only procedure that’s leading to the purchase of airline tickets and the booking of hotel rooms. There’s another country that’s emerged as a go-to destination for those seeking a very specific medical procedure, and in this case, it’s about addition rather than subtraction.

Specifically, the addition of hair. In a new article at Air Mail, Max Berlinger chronicled the increasing popularity of hair replacement surgery in Turkey — one that’s led to, in Berlinger’s words, “men walking around with bandaged, bleeding scalps” being a regular sight in Istanbul.

Predicting and treating baldness has been a concern for doctors and scientists for as long as men have been worried about hair loss. As Berlinger points out, Turkey has several factors working for it to make it a destination for men looking for treatment — a combination of lower medical costs overall and competition among the locations that do provide it, keeping costs relatively low.

The article goes on to note that people can find “some of the most cutting-edge technology in the hair-transplant industry” in Turkey, with follicular-unit extraction — in which hair follicules are moved to different parts of the scalp — as a particularly popular choice.

It’s also led to some memorable images. One of the patients quoted in the article described the aftermath of his procedure. “The day after my surgery, I was eating breakfast at this big buffet at the hotel, and half the tables were guys like me, eating alone with their bandaged heads,” he told Air Mail. “It was like the Brotherhood of the Bloody Heads or something.”

What makes a medical tourism destination? This makes it clear how a perfect storm comes together — even when things get a little hairy.

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