In our materialistic world it is difficult to separate ourselves from the pack as well as “Keeping up with the Joneses”. This includes luxury or expensive items as well as looking 20 years younger with the latest cosmetic surgery. It’s a dog eat dog world out there and apparently you have milk bone underwear.
All kidding aside, any form of cosmetic surgery is serious and, in all instances, should not be done in haste and should be approached with the greatest amount of care and due diligence. In too many situations we make decisions in haste based on poor information as well as bargains which come at a cost. Two words in one sentence that should invoke fear in all of us are “Cheap” and “Surgery”.
How to Distinguish between “Cheap” and “Inexpensive” for Hair Transplant Surgery?
My goal in answering this question is not to bash any company or country, but to provide facts and a well-informed assessment of what to look for when undergoing a Hair Transplant procedure. For the sake of brevity, I will just compare two countries, Turkey and Hungary, and their approaches to FUE Hair Transplants. Although there are exceptions to every rule, we will focus on the general approach and attitude of these clinics at large.
Similarities of hair transplant factors
Cost of the intervention
Clinics in both countries advertise to those living abroad, especially in Western Europe and the UK. The price of these procedures is around 70% less expensive than both countries and regions. The various clinics and doctors advertise English speaking staff, although this can be a stretch. Hungarian is the national language of the country, although English is their second language with the top medical schools having English as their first language. One of the reasons for this is the large number of students from abroad who study in Budapest.
Travel/Flights to the hair transplant clinic
If your flying from any mid-size or major city to Hungary and Turkey, there are many inexpensive flights available. The travel time from London to Budapest is 2.5 hours direct while the flight from London to Istanbul is close to 4 hours, direct as well. There are more direct flights to Budapest while the Istanbul flights might require a stopover in another city, usually on the major carriers. Istanbul does provide a limited selection of flights from the various discount carriers in Europe and UK.
Packages for 1000 / 1500 / 2000/ 2500 grafts
The packages for both countries usually include airport and clinic transfers, accommodations and lunch, and of course the Hair Transplant itself. In most cases it is incumbent upon the patient to pay for the airfare on top of the hair restoration cost.
Techniques used for hair harvesting and hair implants
The techniques used in Hungary and Turkey are essentially the same procedure. FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) is the most popular and advanced method available. There are variations of this procedure such as DHI, although all popular methods consist of removing 1-4 grafts from the back of the head and implanting them into the balding area.
Differences of hair transplant factors
The differences between the 2 countries and their approach might not seem that important, but I can assure you that your decision can impact the rest of your life for better or worse. If you understand that any type of surgery is a serious undertaking, and although not invasive, an FUE Hair Transplant is considered surgery and should be approached as you would any type of invasive surgery.
Hair Transplants are like any other business, the goal is to make money which is part of a free market economy and capitalism. In every industry there are those who play it straight, those who work it the grey area, and those who work outside any legal or moral area. With the advent of the Internet there are ways to distinguish who’s who via reviews, but it is incumbent upon the consumer to perform their due diligence. In Turkey we have seen many examples of those working in the gray area who are so focused on the bottom line that they forget about their responsibilities to the patient.
One of the tactics is the “hard sell” which is where seller (clinic) will use tactics to peddle their services to a patient while trying to guilt them into a procedure. Doing their best to never take “No” for answer they will take the page out of the used car salesman book and do whatever it takes to sign you up.
Clinics in Hungary send out a consultation team to dozens of cities across Europe and the UK. During these free consultations, the potential patient will receive a “check-up” of the head and scalp. All patients are required to provide an extensive medical history and blood test. There should be no ambiguity in your history as any past or present condition can affect the procedure.
I do not have PhD in Mathematics although I don’t need one to figure out that 1 Doctor/Surgeon at a specific clinic cannot do 10 transplants in a single day which is what they claim in many Turkish clinics. The number of patients is correct although the one doctor performing all the surgeries is factually incorrect.
Most of these clinics will use a Technician who is not certified to perform these procedures. The Doctor will “observe” the surgery but there is no way any serious doctor can clam to oversee 10 transplants simultaneously. Having a technician perform the surgery is illegal in the EU and morally unacceptable. This is a contributing factor in the failed procedures for many of the patients in Turkey.
Hair Transplant surgery like any other surgery must be managed accordingly. Although you are given Local Anesthesia and not General Anesthesia it is still important not to induce too much trauma to the surgical area. In many cases, the doctors in Turkey will transplant 6,000 to 7,000 grafts. There are rare cases when 4,000 or more grafts are needed, although in this situation there needs to be two days set aside for the procedure. Spending 8 hours in the surgical chair can lead to numerous medical issues.
“Leading UK surgeons say this is all empty marketing at best, recklessly and dangerously misleading at worst.” Dailymail Online Feb 15, 2020
The side effects of a transplant with so many grafts are that many of the grafts will not be successful in growing into the new area. With so any grafts being transplanted in a single session there is a good chance that the doctor is rushing to perform the procedure and will not take the care which is needed during a 2-day session. While any surgeon worth his salt will find this amount of time taxing, remember that most of this is being performed by an unqualified assistant.
As a full member of the European Union, Hungary is required to abide by all rules and regulations pertaining to Doctors, Medical Clinics, Procedures, Legal Requirements, and most importantly Malpractice Laws. A patient from the UK or any part of Europe has the same legal rights as those from the EU country where the procedure is performed. A lawyer from France representing a French patient will be familiar with the legal process in Hungary.
Many of those who in the best-case scenario are not satisfied, and in the worst case, victims of malpractice, will have a much more difficult time pursuing their problems in the courts. The best-case scenario is that they find and pay a good lawyer that can navigate the Turkish legal system. This will be costly and require time and patience to receive proper “compensation”, although there are times when no amount of money can make up for medical malpractice.
Cosmetic and Health Issues
We all must refer back to the adage regarding surgery being a serious undertaking for both the patient and doctor. Losing money in a bad transaction, although problematic, is not nearly as significant as suffering medical issues and complications from an improper procedure. All of us take for granted our health, especially when we are healthy, but the minute something goes wrong it can consume and change our lives.
This may all sound alarmist unless you hear the stories of patients who have been victims of the medical malpractice at these clinics. Not only do the patients suffer from cosmetic issues which in some cases cannot be remedied, there can be long term health issues such as scaring, infections as well as emotional issues.
A little bit of research on the Internet can go a long way in preventing serious issues from your Hair Transplant and I suggest you read the reviews and view the images. If you are reading this article, then you obviously have thought about your Hair Loss issues and what kind of help is available. But there will come a point where a decision must be made as to whether you will have an FUE Hair Transplant or not.
If you are looking for the cheapest option for a transplant, then Turkey is probably your best bet. You will save a lot of money from having a procedure in your home country, although your transplant will come at a price you didn’t expect. This is a “price” that you cannot afford! In some cases, cheaper is better, in this case it can be outright dangerous.
All I ask is that you do your research and understand that this is a life altering decision. If you want to save money while undergoing a safe and successful transplant then I would suggest inquiring about the many FUE options in Budapest, Hungary. For a few hundred dollars more you will find peace of mind and a natural looking head of hair.