Tag Archives: medical tourism

The new reason to travel to Turkey…. for Hair!

Traveling to Turkey for…. Hair?

Yes! Medical tourism, long associated with surgical procedures such as facelifts, injections, etc, is now expanding to the hairline. The newest trend experts are seeing is travel for hair: Tourists are visiting Turkey for not only hair transplants, but facial hair transplants, too!

Recent numbers show over 15,000 people went to Turkey for the sole purpose of hair. Interestingly enough, very few of these patients are from Western countries: Most were, by far, from the Middle East. Early traction was gained by referrals: People reported back from Turkey that they received not just low-cost procedures, but they said the medical care was superior than in their home countries.

The trend can be associated with the change in male model aesthetics; now less feminine, most models strive for lush facial hair and chiseled jawlines. Although you might think Turkey is an odd choice, it is akin to Canadians traveling to the US — proximity to Arab countries is the main factor.

Unfortunately, you still have the same risks as with other medical tourism: less-educated “professional” doctors, iffy surgical centers, and the chance of complications. Although hair transplants are relatively safe and simple, it is up to the consumer to do the proper research – and not just book a trip based on price. We highly recommend staying close to home when doing any surgery or medical procedure, unless you are very familiar with the doctor you are traveling to.

Medical Tourism

The concept of medical tourism is not a new one, but dates back thousands of years to when Greek pilgrims traveled from all over the Mediterranean to the small territory in the Saronic Gulf called Epidauria, the territory of the healing god Asklepios. Epidauria became the original travel destination for medical tourism.  Subsequently, spa towns and sanitariums emerged.  

Medical Tourism

A large draw to current medical travel is accessibility, convenience, affordability and ease of international travel. In 2009, an estimated 600,000 Americans traveled abroad for plastic surgery.   Popular cosmetic surgery travel destinations include: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico and Turkey.  Not surprisingly, the United States heads the list of popular sites for health tourism, and generates $5.5 billion annually.  Brazil is in second position. Europe as a whole, is listed third.  Dr. Orhan Murat Özdemir, a plastic surgeon in Turkey states that “Nearly 350,000 people visit Turkey annually to receive treatment and spend nearly $20 million dollars. In Turkey, dental aesthetics in particular, bring a consumer cost advantage in excess of 50% savings over the US and the rest of Europe.”

But, medical tourism carries several risks.  Infectious disease may be acquired when there is exposure to pathogens without having built up natural immunity.  In addition, misdiagnoses in the homeland may be frequent because diseases acquired on foreign soil are perceived to be “rare.” Hospitals and doctors may not be accredited to US, UK or Canadian standards. Long distance travel home soon after surgery can increase the risk of complications as can vacation activities such as strenuous exercise, sun exposure, alcohol consumption and lifting heavy luggage.  Surgical complications may not be adequately addressed in countries with unfamiliar legal systems and hospitals and/or doctors may be unable to pay for financial damages.  In an extreme situation, the cost of a medical air “ambulance” home can cost more than the list price of a new car.  So, consumer beware of a false surgical economy!  You may be lucky to get what you pay for!

When traveling abroad, consider purchasing medical travel insurance from MedJet Assist and “take trips, not chances”.  1.800.527.7478