I've had a mixed feeling about Turkey since I first went to visit Istanbul in May of 2015. Before I went to Istanbul I knew absolutely nothing about the hair transplant industry in Turkey or about technician hair transplant clinics. I admit, I was very naive with how things work in Turkey but the past year has been an incredible learning period. In general the hair transplant industry is already dirty, regardless of country. There is so much BS with marketing and all the clinics are scared to death of a bad review but the truth of the matter is that clinics have the power to reduce or eliminate patient complaints if they just take a few basic changes to their practice. This is part of what I do with the clinics I work with. I digress. To compare the general hair transplant industry to the industry as it stands in Turkey, the hair transplant industry as a whole is like a Sunday church choir. The lengths that these clinics go to in order to draw patients in is absolutely astounding.
During this first visit to Turkey I was alerted by a friend of mine that there was a story on the CBC about the Turkish hair transplant industry and I became fascinated by how shallow the reporting was. The story is here... CBC Story About Hair Transplant Clinics in Turkey. I mean, I knew next to nothing at that point but even I knew that the story was so full of errors that it could only be considered an advertisement and marketing, not a legitimate news piece. I remember wishing I could do something more hard hitting to share with the world what I had been learning. That chance came sooner than I realized.
Technician Hair Transplant Clinics - The Truth About Hair Transplants in Turkey
After I left I was presented with a unique opportunity to return to Istanbul only one month later to attend an FUE workshop. I jumped at the chance to go but I also realized the opportunity that was presented to me. I decided to contact technician hair transplant clinics in Istanbul to have a consultation. It was to be with a clinic that catered to patients that are in search of the cheapest hair transplant possible. I'm talking about the type of clinic that absolutely dominates the Turkish hair transplant landscape, the "technician clinic". When you take a moment to type in "hair transplant turkey" in Google it is these types of clinics that will dominate the results listing. Below is the result of this investigation.
I'll share a few quick stories; when I was in Turkey I saw advertisements for hair transplant surgery in Syria. Turkey is already super cheap but if you have the courage to go to Syria instead you can have a hair transplant for only 300 Euros. True story.
When driving through Istanbul you can see technician hair transplant clinics off in the distance, on various hillsides overlooking the highway, that have hair transplant billboards and banners on the outside and when you get into the city itself you'll find that many of the people walking the streets, especially the tourist areas, have bandages on their heads because they are cosmetic surgery tourists. You can spot them also by dark colored bucket hats they wear. True story.
One morning when I came down to breakfast in my hotel I saw two men sitting at a table with friends or family members. They both had fresh hair transplants which looked to be from the day before. I approached one to ask him about his hair so I could learn more. He confirmed he has just had a hair transplant and that he did not know how much hair was transplanted, just that he paid his fee and the procedure was completed. He then asked for my phone # so he could contact me later to talk more as he was busy with his friends. I later got a call from the clinic he went to where they offered to send a driver to pick me up so I could have a consultation. At no point did I ask the patient to forward my phone number to the clinic and at no point did I indicate I was interested in a consultation much less a surgery yet here they were, the clinic that did the procedure, calling me to arrange to send a car to pick me up. I kicked myself for not taking the opportunity then but I did have commitments that I could not back out of. What is interesting however is that this reinforces the information I received that patients are used as agents to get more business for the clinic. The clinics are telling their patients that if they refer people to have surgery then they will be paid a commission. That is the only explanation I can think of for being contacted by this clinic. This means that you can't really trust many of the testimonials you see online because they are most likely testimonials from patients with financial influence. True story.
A lot of these technician hair transplant clinics have the marketing down to a science where they know and understand their target market, men. So this is why you'll see a lot of very attractive women working in the industry. When you get to Turkey, assuming you are there for a hair transplant, they'll send a person to watch over you while you are in town. They will meet you at your hotel to take you to the clinic and they'll escort you back to your hotel. These "handlers" as I call them are, many times, really attractive women. I first noticed this when I came down from my room one morning and when I walked into the lobby there was a very attractive young lady that walked up to me with a big smile and asked me if I was ready to go. (???) She thought I was a new patient of her clinic and then when we both realized that she was mistaken she dismissed me then found her mark and was all over him. I mean, she took his arm and escorted him out to a waiting car and her body language made it look like they were a happy couple. Let me tell you, this guy was goofy with glee because she was definitely out of his league. I might have some footage that shows some of this but I'll have to dig to find it. However, this practice was also going on at the clinic I visited in the above video. Two of these women walked by in a few of my shots but you can't see them because they are blurred out to hide their identities.
There is a lot more for you to learn about technician hair transplant clinics in Turkey but the information will have to be in future postings. I'll be talking about this a lot more so stay tuned.