What keeps bad UK clinics in business? The fear of flying to Turkey.

Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg Daniel Cullen Graft king

Sat Mar 26 2022

If the thought of everyone staring at you as you walk through customs with a bloody scalp is enough to make you rule out travelling abroad for your transplant, this article is for you. It won’t try to persuade you to go abroad, but rather help ensure you’re making the best long term decision for yourself, from a position of logic rather than fear - which we all occasionally suffer from.

Last week I spoke to an American guy who had decided to go for a second procedure at his local clinic at a cost of $12,000 despite being given mediocre results the first time round. Due to Turkey being “Halfway around the world” he had already ruled out any Turkish clinic. Below is my reply to him:

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To me, it’s no coincidence that a lot of mediocre UK clinics love talking about the “dangers” of travelling to Turkey for a hair transplant. I think most guys accept that despite what a lazy tabloid article might imply about Turkey being a third world country, the standard of medical care in a reputable Istanbul clinic is generally the same as one of the UK. Even the most biased English clinic would also not dispute the quality of work that can be obtained in Turkey should one know where to look.

Rather, the fear that I think keeps many guys from looking beyond their home country is the fear of actually flying abroad, particularly on the way back. I truly believe that if it was possible to access Turkish clinics without travelling to them, maybe half of UK clinics would shut tomorrow.

From the customer’s side such a fear is completely understandable. I am sure that the two words “budget flight” can conjure up traumatic memories for just about anyone reading this. Why then, would you want to do this with 3,000 delicately placed grafts on your scalp looking something like a car crash victim? Or what about the the eyebrow raise of that the guy at border control as he tries to work out whether the person in front of him holds any resemblance to the guy in the picture? None of it sounds pleasant.

Below are six thoughts following my research and travel to Istanbul:

  1. No one at the airport cares - and I mean nobody. Not the staff, you’re probably the hundredth patient they’ve seen that week, and certainly not any other customers - don’t be surprised if the people sat each side of you have the exact same. In fact, I said to my friend that being in Turkey with a hair transplant must be what it is like for a queer person to attend Pride. You are basically so amongst your people that anyone who doesn’t know the difference between single and multi grafts is the weird one, not you.
  2. Flight included, it’s still so cheap: from London mine were about 160 return. That’s not much more than a full tank of petrol these days meaning that if I were to travel to other side of the UK for a procedure the cost of travel would barely be different. For guys in the US, even after purchasing a $1k return flight ticket, you are still saving thousands when factoring in the price per graft of just about any clinic in the States.
  3. A bit of prep goes a long way: travel has become a little more complicated in the past few years. The only time when flying to Turkey could be a real headache is if you end up in the worst case scenario of missing your flight because you don’t have the correct forms. All you need to do is ensure you have completed all the required admin. As someone who defines the word disorganized, this really isn’t too hard.
  4. Small upgrades = huge peace of mind: if you still feel anxious about the flight, there are things that you can do. For me, my fear was someone hitting my freshly transplanted scalp with a cabin bag. On the way back I paid about £20 for an exit row seat and never once worried about this happening.
  5. You also get a great holiday out of it: Istanbul is one of the world’s most visited cities for a reason. Coming out of lockdown, do yourself a favor and turn the requirement to travel to a clinic into a positive. Get there a few days before and explore the city.
  6. You are going to live with the result forever: in my opinion, the main consideration should be who is likely to give you the best result. Any anxiety about travelling should be balanced against the fact you are unlikely to ever see any of these people ever again in your life. The result on the other hand, will be each time you look in the mirror and every time you are in a photo. You can’t get the final result without going through the ugly duckling phase so perhaps try to see it as an extension of that, almost the ‘price of admission’.