Having a hair transplant abroad can seem like a good idea. Taking a hair transplant holiday means you can use your vacation time as the recovery period, away from the stresses of daily life. However, the main reason some people choose to go to countries like Turkey, Hungary and Mexico for their hair transplants is usually related to cost.
The average price in the UK for 1,500 grafts is £4,820 compared to just £1,464 in Turkey. In the US, hair transplant costs tend to range from $4,000 to $15,000 — and they’re rarely covered by insurance.
But are these savings worth it? Find out everything you need to know about getting a hair transplant abroad from the UK or the US.
Why are hair transplants cheaper abroad?
There are many reputable clinics you can work with in countries all over the world. Many overseas clinics offer high success rates, with procedures performed by experienced surgeons. This makes hair transplants a safe procedure.
However, the BAHRS highlights the risks associated with medical tourism. Clinics in countries with less strict health and quality regulations than the UK and USA can legally offer cut-price procedures. If you’re finding it difficult to stretch your budget to UK or US prices, this may be a tempting prospect.
But poor quality hair transplants can cost a lot more in the long run. You may end up with a bad or failed hair transplant, which ultimately costs considerably more to fix.
In fact, according to the most recent 2022 ISHRS Census, the majority of their members (96.4%) reported that up to 25% of their cases were repair cases due to a previous Black Market hair transplants. The average percentage of repair cases due to a previous Black Market hair transplant was 6%.
Is it safe to have a hair transplant abroad?
In many cases it is safe to have a hair transplant abroad. If you’re travelling from the US to get a hair transplant at a Harley Street clinic in London, you’ll benefit from highly experienced surgeons and strict health and safety regulations.
However, some countries don’t have (or don’t enforce) stringent health and safety codes. At best, this can jeopardise your chances of successful hair regrowth. At worst, your skin grafts could become infected, potentially leading to life-threatening complications like sepsis. While the hair transplant death rate is extremely low — 0% in the UK — getting a black market hair transplant overseas is a big risk factor.
What to consider about an overseas hair transplant
Procedure costs aren’t the only thing to consider when you’re contemplating getting a hair transplant abroad. You should also think about:
- Cost of travel and accommodation
- Health and safety regulations
- Communication barriers
- Checking credentials
- Surgeon’s experience
- Aftercare and recovery recommendations
- Their reviews and testimonials
- How you’ll deal with any unexpected complications
Travel costs and time
With FUE treatment abroad you will have to allow for additional expenses and time for travel, especially if you’re venturing beyond the close vicinity of clinics in Europe. Faraway destinations are more expensive to reach, and you also need to budget for the cost of living while you’re there having the procedure and recuperating. Furthermore you need to consider the cost of time for travelling to an international clinic, as well as the cost for follow-up or additional treatments.
Health & safety regulations
More importantly is the difference in healthcare standards and transplant practices worldwide. The UK has a high standard of living and healthcare, which is why many people choose to travel to the UK for a hair transplant. But in some countries, where these treatments are offered for a far lower price, clinics may not operate to the same standards or be subject to the same stringent EU medical regulations.
How do I know if a clinic follows adequate health and safety rules?
Researching the safety of foreign hair clinics is vital if you want to avoid the complications that can arise if this usually safe procedure is not carried out correctly. Find answers to questions like:
- Are these cheaper clinics operating in line with best medical practices?
- Are their staff adequately trained to deal with any unforeseen developments or side-effects?
- Does the clinic have the highest possible standards of hygiene and patient safety?
Unless you’re prepared to make two trips (which would probably cancel out your cost-saving), the only way to do your due diligence for foreign clinics is to conduct thorough research online and/or speak to previous patients.
The extent to which the clinic will help you make an honest appraisal of what you’re signing up for depends largely on how reputable, professional, ethical and trustworthy they are. If you’re in any doubt, it’s probably best to avoid them.
Of course, there are a considerable number of safe, reputable clinics in many of the countries that offer hair transplant holidays, such as Mexico, Turkey and Hungary. The difficulty is knowing which ones are going to provide a pleasant and problem-free experience.
Another important consideration is in communication. While many health professionals abroad will speak English, they may not have a full grasp of the language, which can make communication difficult. Plus, there is no possibility of arranging an initial face-to-face consultation with your surgeon, which is always important to ensure you’re comfortable with them and the procedure.
In addition, a long-distance FUE treatment can make it more difficult to verify a clinic or a surgeon’s credentials. With any medical procedure you need to be completely sure they have the right qualifications and experience for FUE. Checking these types of credentials for foreign clinics can be time consuming and difficult.
Overall, the idea of undergoing FUE abroad does sound appealing in terms of the cost, but the reality is that there is a whole lot more hassle and risk involved in having the treatment abroad. At least with doctors and clinics in the UK you won’t have to travel far; you can easily check their credentials and know what you’re getting; you can have initial face-to-face meetings; and receiving any follow-up treatment is easily accessible too.
A lot of experience is required to perform an FUE hair transplant. The surgeon must have a steady hand for 6 to 8 hours and must extract hair follicles carefully to ensure their survival. Remember, your donor area is not finite.
Thanks to language barriers and a lack of in-person consultation, overseas hair transplants are often a little different to what patients expect.
Some clinics operate out of shared surgeries or wards, with many surgeries being carried out by technicians in the same room, where they are supervised by a surgeon. In contrast, UK clinics must ensure a trained surgeon carries out your procedure in a sterile environment.
What happens if you don’t get the results you want from an overseas hair transplant clinic?
Assuming you’re happy with the cost and safety of your overseas clinic, the next thing to consider is what you’ll do if you’re unhappy with your transplant results.
Your package might not include meeting your surgeon or visiting the clinic prior to your transplant. So you’ll have to book and pay for your trip, then travel on the assumption that the clinic and surgeon are adequately qualified and can provide the results you’re looking to achieve.
Many overseas hair transplants offer great results and satisfied patients. However, there are occasions when the outcome is not as expected. Failed or disappointing transplants can be a result of poorly-trained or inexperienced surgeons, language barriers, and unmanaged expectations. This tends to happen more in budget clinics.
One of the challenges with having a surgical treatment abroad is the ability to receive the necessary aftercare. There can potentially be many issues with your post operation scabs and problems may arise if you get an infection. You should be prepared to absorb these costs at an additional charge in your home country which would have been included initially free of charge.
Should I have a hair transplant abroad?
If you’re satisfied that your chosen clinic operates safely and can give you the results you want at an affordable price, there’s no reason to avoid having a hair transplant abroad. Many countries like the UK offer world-class hair transplants to patients from the USA, Australia, and beyond. Find out more about the best countries for hair transplants.
Other countries have a less sound reputation when it comes to safety. While it’s possible that you could have a safe procedure that delivers the great results you’re hoping for, there are risks that may outweigh the money you might save. It’s also worth bearing in mind that when you factor in the travel costs, additional insurance, and any unforeseen expenses should things not go to plan, opting for a cheaper clinic in countries like Turkey, Hungary or Mexico may be a false economy.
There’s a reason that ‘you get what you pay for’ is such a well-worn saying. If a foreign clinic can offer the same hair transplants available in domestic clinics for a greatly discounted price, it would be wise to find out what costs they’ve cut to make those savings.
The best country for a hair transplant
We’re a little biased, but we believe the best country to have a hair transplant is right here in the UK. Harley Street, London is home to some of the world’s most experienced, reputable surgeons (including our own principal surgeon, Dr. May). At the Wimpole Clinic, we’ve worked with many patients from overseas to restore their hair with quality hair transplants. Our hair transplant prices start at £2,999.
Book a call with one of our hair transplant consultants to find out how we can support you to get the hair you deserve.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.
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