Hair Transplant Surgery Overseas
In recent years a new business model for hair transplant clinics has developed in the US, Pakistan, Iran and especially Turkey. There has always been a market for cosmetic medical tourism in low cost countries, but the new model bypasses local regulations by not having a doctor involved in the operation other than providing local anesthetic injections.
The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery has termed these new clinics “Black Market” Clinics and they have quickly established themselves as a significant market presence.
Unfortunately, the staffing of the clinics often involves minimally trained, non-certified technicians that perform the entire FUE transplant, even though this is against local regulations in many countries.
Turkish hair transplant clinics have multiplied and now sadly we are seeing an increasing number of young men (the specific target market for these black market clinics) returning from overseas with very poor outcomes relating to poor planning, poor growth and overharvesting of the available donor hairs leaving no hairs for treatment of future hair loss. Significant infections have also caused hair loss and scarring as complications of the poorly performed surgery in some unfortunate patients.
The desire of young cash-poor patients to achieve a “full head of hair” leads to unrealistic promises (e.g. “5000-10,000 grafts in a session” or even “unlimited hair”)! These unethical clinics know they will never see the patient again and are happy to take their money under false pretenses. What they offer is not only often impossible, it’s often illegal and poorly executed.
While those black market clinics promoting FUE (Follicular Unit Excision) harvesting prefer to claim it is minimally invasive and scar less, these are exaggerated claims and even then only relate to the first third of the procedure, the removal of hair grafts.
The rest of the procedure (cutting recipient sites in the balding areas and then planting the grafts) is identical whichever harvesting technique is used (FUT or FUE).
The essential thing to remember about balding is that hair loss is progressive and hair transplantation permanently moves healthy hairs, thus leaving less hair in the donor area. It is the wise use of donor hair, and preservation of hair for future needs, that defines good surgical planning. Overharvesting and overuse of donor hairs in the young patient is against their long term interests.
A discussion of this problem with Black Market clinics with examples of poor outcomes is available at www.ishrs.org
It is important to do your research and establish that a hair transplant doctor with plenty of surgical experience and proper patient care will be performing the procedure rather than just supplying the local anesthetic.
In Australia, doctors are governed by strict guidelines they must adhere to. When having a procedure oversees there may be limited or no guidelines in place to keep you safe let alone have a successful procedure.