Having a hair transplant abroad can seem like a good idea. Taking a hair transplant holiday means you can use your vacation time as a 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 transplant surgery 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 for a hair transplant worth it? Find out everything you need to know about getting hair restoration surgery abroad from the UK and the US.
There are many reputable hair transplant clinics you can go to located in countries all over the world. Many overseas hair clinics offer high success rates, with procedures performed by experienced hair transplant surgeons. This makes hair transplants a safe procedure.
However, the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery 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 hair transplant procedures. If you’re finding it difficult to stretch your budget to UK or US prices, this may be a tempting prospect.
Unfortunately, poor-quality hair transplant surgery 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 previous Black Market hair transplants. The average percentage of repair cases due to a previous Black Market hair transplant procedure was 6%.
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 hair restoration surgeons at a reputable clinic with 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 growth. 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.
Hair transplantation costs aren’t the only thing to consider when you’re contemplating getting a hair transplant abroad. You should also think about:
One requirement of anyone partaking in medical tourism is that patients will have to allow for additional expenses and time for travel, especially for those who are venturing beyond the close vicinity of clinics in nearby European countries.
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 hair transplant clinic, as well as the cost of follow-up or additional treatments.
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.
However, 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.
Researching the safety of foreign hair clinics is vital if you want to avoid the complications that can arise if this usually safe surgical procedure is not carried out correctly. Find answers to questions like:
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 hair transplant 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.
It’s important it is to discuss with your surgeon what type of procedure you’ll have. For instance, should you opt for an FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation) or FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) surgery and why?
Furthermore, you’ll want to know all the ins and outs of what the operation involves, how to practice proper aftercare, and what you should expect in your hair transplant recovery timeline. Those who can’t communicate effectively with their hair transplant surgeon might be misled regarding their hair restoration expectations and hair growth results.
In addition, a long-distance hair transplant 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, have initial face-to-face meetings, and receive any follow-up treatment if needed.
A lot of experience is required to perform an FUE hair transplant. The surgeon must have a steady hand for 6 to 8 hours (or however long your hair transplant takes) 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 from what patients expect.
Some clinics operate out of shared surgeries or wards, with many hair transplant operations 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.
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.
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 hair transplants abroad 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.
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.
Other countries have a less sound reputation when it comes to safety. While it’s possible that you could have a safe hair transplant 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 deal 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 hair transplant clinic can offer the same services that are 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.
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 reputable and experienced 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 with your hair loss and get the hair you deserve.
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