More than 90% of Turkish hair transplant clinics, where Russian tourists so often rush, do not have a medical license and are not responsible for the results of transplantation.
Today, about 640 thousand hair transplant operations are performed annually in the world, and their number is growing. Therefore, a huge number of people contemplating this expensive operation, diligently find out where "grows up better." Russians are no exception. Despite the ruble fever, sanctions and a cold snap in international relations, they are planning a trip abroad for new hair.
Where does that come from
It is well known that “everything is there” in Turkey. The question is, where does this "everything" come from? When it comes to leather jackets and sheepskin coats, it is clear: there are raw materials, developed production, long-standing traditions. But why have some proclaimed Turkey to be almost a hair transplant Mecca?
There is no Turkish trace in the world history of the development of hair transplantation and major scientific breakthroughs. All significant discoveries in this area were made by representatives of Japan, the USA, Australia, many of whom even made their first scientific publications on this topic for years. But if there was no school of transplantation in Turkey, as well as the prerequisites for European leadership in this area, then there has always been something else. Namely - the sea and the sun, a powerful industry of recreation and entertainment. Who is infinitely inventive with new options for pleasure and extracting new profits from them.
Therefore, when the number of non-poor vacationers in Turkey, people concerned about the condition of their tops, reached a serious concentration, the resort business had its say and invested in a new chip - hair transplantation. The first clinics were formed with his money and gave huge profits. And then the doctors, who got rich on transplants, began to create and promote their institutions in every possible way. At the same time, they trained very well on male compatriots, 60% of whom are genetically rapidly balding by the age of 25-30, which is why they are very worried.
Around the mid-90s, the first Russian shuttle traders, who were exporting leather and sheepskin coats and returning to Turkey with money, realized that the pleasant in this country can be combined with the useful - to get rid of baldness. And they did not spare money for this. And at home they proudly showed the new thing. This is how the beginning of what is now culturally called "medical tourism" in Russia. Hair.
Elena Grigoryan, Chief Client Relationship Manager of the Moscow clinic Real Trans Hair (RTH), says: “Even wealthy patients begin their conversation by discussing the cost of the operation. And every second person, having read on the Internet, tells us that, according to his calculations, “it's cheaper in Turkey”. Therefore, we do not start by transplanting hair, but by opening people's eyes."
So what our people don’t know and what do they buy with? The main transplant unit for operations is a graft - a microfragment of the skin with a group of hairs of natural origin (follicular group), where there can be from 1 to 5 hairs. And for such a unit, the Turks formally often declare a price lower than in Russia. But this is at the stage of consultations. But in fact, it turns out that the patient is offered to pay not for the graft, which, for example, in the RTH clinic, contains on average 2-3 hairs, but (for a minute!) For each hair separately. And it's still good that they offer. Or they can issue an invoice after the fact without any explanation. “Therefore, our surgeons,” continues Elena Grigoryan, “always demonstrate the planting material to patients, as they say, to a hair. And people who, if they wish, can look at it directly at the operation, know exactly what they are paying for. But in Turkey, as it turned out, such openness is not accepted. It seems, well, what kind of distrust in professionals?..
But this is not the only "cheapening" financial procedure. Often, a patient arriving in Turkey and planning to be completely happy with a new hairstyle with a volume of 2000 grafts is cheaper than in Russia, already in the clinic it is announced that not one, but two operations are required. Not 2000 grafts, but 4000. And, of course, twice as much money. And the change in the amount is explained by a misunderstanding of the client and the lack of Russian-speaking staff. Well, or so and go bald.
Doctors and Dodgers
The Turkish network of medical clinics Memorial, the first in the country to receive the world's most authoritative international medical accreditation JCI (Joint Commission International), on its website specifically states that “Memorial clinics do not include hair transplantation departments and there are no doctors performing hair transplantation. The Memorial Medical Group has nothing to do with hair transplantation, which is offered by various commercial structures in rented space in Memorial clinics, it does not bear any responsibility for the results and complications, and does not accept claims from patients. The message is made in unnaturally large letters.
You understand the meaning of this gesture when you understand the problems of professional provision of services in the field of hair transplantation. Including in Turkey.
Today, the International Society for Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) is literally ringing the alarm about the huge risks of patients associated with the work of unlicensed specialists in the field of hair transplantation, calls on the authorities of the countries of the world and Europe to clear legislative regulation of these issues. For example, as in Russia, where any such clinic must have licenses, trained personnel with only basic medical education, appropriate equipment, premises, materials, etc. The meaning of the requirements is clear. Hair transplant, although it is a minimally invasive procedure, in inept hands can be deadly (such cases, alas, there are).
None of this is required for hair transplant in Turkey. Therefore, according to the testimony of one of the few world-class Turkish specialists, Doctor of Medicine Typhoon Oguzoglu, out of 300 transplant clinics located in Istanbul alone, only 20 operate doctors, and not hired assistants. Who, perhaps even yesterday, were simple orderlies.
In practice, this means that there is a huge gray zone in the hair transplant business, where not only laws, but even basic standards of medical care are ignored. For example, ISHRS long ago formulated a standard for hair transplantation services and guidelines for assessing the risks of surgery. In particular, licensed clinics should provide preoperative diagnostics and consultations, planning and performing an operation with guaranteed medical and aesthetic results, resolving the patient's medical problems and possible adverse reactions of the body, and providing postoperative care.
The patient must know for sure whether the clinic is licensed to carry out medical activities in hair transplantation and whether the contract for the operation contains legal guarantees for its successful result, what is the education and training of the operator, the number of his assistants for the operation, the possibility of covering it with insurance, etc.
For Turkey, all these standards often remain an empty phrase. Since most clinics do not provide legal guarantees for the results of operations and generally try to present hair transplantation not as a medical procedure, but as a cosmetic procedure. Nobody hides the fact that the case is often put on stream (in Istanbul, according to Dr. Oguzoglu, from 500 to 1000 operations are performed per day), in which time is not provided for classical postoperative care. The conveyor does not only psychologically affect the patient-tourists. Returning to Russia, they are often forced to apply for "liquidation of consequences" in the same RTH.
An interesting statistical pattern: many small clinics in Turkey operate for a year or a little longer. And this is exactly the time when, in theory, the final results of the hair transplant operation should appear. And if a patient who is outraged and dissatisfied with them even returns to Turkey for a showdown, he may simply not find "his" clinic. Or find out that the doctor who "made a mistake" left him in an unknown direction.
The hierarchy of Turkish clinics is covered in great detail by the well-known Moscow blogger DEMKRISTO, who, as you can understand, has personal experience in hair transplantation. According to his classification, there are three types of clinics in Turkey. Least of all certified, where a real doctor promoted on the Internet does no more than 10 operations per month with a graft cost from 3 to 5 euros. No more than 1500 grafts are transplanted. This is the elite. Then there are certified clinics, where there is a second composition - the left and right hand of the guru. They often operate on behalf of the "legend", prepare for independent work, but have to wait for their turn.
And then comes the mass segment - the very 90% where the transplant is carried out simply by a commercial company that uses various marketing tricks to attract customers. Most often, it is simply covered by the name of a well-known clinic. In such cases, an illegal, in fact, transplant is carried out by nurses or even personnel without medical education. But it is cheap (up to 1 euro per graft) and cheerful, since the results do not correspond to the promises.
Recently, medical tourism certificates from the Medical Travel Qvality Alliance (MTQUA) have become fashionable. But as the organization itself says on its website, this certificate is not a confirmation of the quality of medical care and services.
It should be noted that Turkey really has many achievements in medicine: people from all over the world come here to treat oncology, recover from a stroke and other serious diseases. All this, although very expensive, is very serious: certificates, licenses, professional doctors with medical education, responsibility for the health and life of the patient. And hair … What hair? One more - one less, especially for a visiting tourist. It's just a cosmetic matter …
Apparently, the business will stick to this until the end.
Across the sea, a heifer is a half …
In terms of professionalism, results, comfort and quality of service, the best Russian clinics are in no way inferior, thus 10% of "normal" in Turkey, and often even surpass them.
Gulnara Khabibullina, General Director of the first Russian hair transplant clinic, Real Trans Hair, is convinced that their service and the qualifications of doctors are even higher. For example, RTH provides all patient transfers and accommodation in at least three-star hotels in the center of Moscow, within walking distance of the clinic. And even feeds patients with restaurant dishes on the day of the operation. People receive a lifetime guarantee for hair transplants, which is legally enshrined in the contract.
As for the professionalism of medical personnel, teams of up to 10 people work in the same RTH for each operation. And the leading surgeons performed 5-7 thousand operations. If we use the definition of “flying hours”, popular in aviation, then all of them, including those with medical degrees and who spend 5-6 hours at the operating table every day, are real aces.
Russian surgeons make a real contribution to the improvement of hair transplantation methods. In the fall of 2017, at an international conference in Los Angeles, foreign colleagues highly appreciated the technique of the leading RTH surgeon Igor Tskhai, who for the first time in Russia performed a hair transplant from a beard to a patient's head (and not the reverse order, as in the classical version). He was personally congratulated by the legendary surgeon William Rossman - the creator of the most progressive FUE transplant method to date.
In general, if we soberly assess and carefully weigh all the pros and cons of medical tourism "for hair" to Turkey, then it is likely that the transportation of a "heifer" from across the Mediterranean Sea will cost not even a ruble, but much - in the broadest sense - expensive.
By the way. At one time, Russians massively bought gold items in Turkey, which were sold literally on every corner. And only with time they figured out what cheap Turkish gold is, which in Russia will not be accepted by any pawnshop.