Hair Transplant in the UK: The Costs, The Cons, and The Alternatives
It is not very common for the UK to be known for something under a negative light. It is often among the top 10 countries for positive things. Rarely is it ever seen among lists of negatives, mainly health related. From records of countries with low life expectancies to high incidents of cancer to high rates of obesity, the UK has no place. For that reason, it might be surprising for most to learn that the UK is among the Top 10 countries with the highest hair loss incidents.
Hair loss is an incident that affects nearly 50% of the world population, and while statistics show that it’s a common phenomenon, it affects more races than others. For example, people of African and Asian ethnicities are least affected. Whereas Europeans on the other hand, took over the top 10 ranks for the highest hair loss incidents. In which the UK earned the 5th spot with a significant number, 39.23% to be exact, of its male population suffering from hair loss.
While this fact may not initiate curiosity, the concept that only a marginal number of hair loss patients opt for hair transplant in the UK does raise some questions. With such a percentage of the population affected by hair loss, it is very odd that only a limited number undergo hair transplant in the UK.
Logically this could be due to either one of two things. The first being, people are just comfortable with their appearance after hair loss. While this could be true for a few, the majority cannot relate. According to several surveys and phycological studies, 63% of bald men experience self-esteem issues, and 39% of them report depression. Ironically, however, less than 10% seek hair restoration treatments.
There is a noticeable wedge between the ratio of people who report psychological issues stemming from hair loss and the percentage of those who seek hair restoration treatments.
To understand where this gap comes from, we need to break down the British health care system and hair transplant industry: its pros, it cons, and its costs.
The British Health care system:
Britain ranks 18th in a global league table of health-care systems. However, when it comes to hair transplant, it is not exactly practical. For any health care system to be of quality, three factors need to be considered: access, advancements, and techniques. In any other medical area excluding hair transplant or cosmetic procedures, the UK health care system is doing a spectacular job.
Below we will discuss the British health care system concerning hair transplant alone.
- Waiting time:
In the UK and according to the Huffington Post, if patients are looking to perform a hair transplant surgery by skilled and qualified surgeons in CQC certified hospitals, they are expected to wait a period of 6 months to a year.
- Cost-related access:
The average hair transplant surgery could cost up to 30,000 pounds while the average UK salary is merely 27,000 pounds.
The factors as mentioned above contribute to the gap between the number of people who undergo surgery, and the ones who suffer hair loss. As said, the average cost of hair transplant surgery in the UK is 30,000. Which when compared to the average salary indicates the operation is not within the budget of the majority of the public.
Another factor contributing to this gap is the waiting list. Waiting lists can be very long that most patients either lose interest or choose to operate in low-quality clinics putting their crown and possibly health on risk.
Techniques and advancements:
Currently, in the UK the two popular methods for hair transplantation are the follicular unit transplantation (FUT) and the follicular unit extraction (FUE). The FUT method is known to be more cost efficient where 2500 grafts can cost up to 6,000 pounds. Whereas for an FUE technique with the same number of grafts, ranges from 8,000 pounds onwards.
Generally, the FUT hair transplant method is considered a very traditional technique. This technique was abandoned many years ago in several countries. However, the UK still employs this technique as it is relatively cheaper than the state of the art FUE technique. Most people who cannot afford an FUE are either left with no choice than to undergo a FUT or accept their hair loss. For verification, according to statistics, only a minority have undergone an FUE procedure in the last five years.
Although an FUE is more expensive than a FUT, its value for money is very high. It is less invasive and leaves no scarring whereas a FUT is considered to be an invasive technique that requires the excision of an entire strip form the scalp and later the stitching of the donor regions. Resulting in a linear scar, more extended recovery periods, numbness in the area that can last up to several months, and a higher risk of infection.
In other regions of the world, FUE is by far more popular than alternatives seeing as it is within the budget of many, whereas the demand on FUT has rapidly gone down to the point clinics that employ this technique are very scarce in number. The same cannot be said about UK hair transplant clinics.
FUE vs FUT hair transplantation:
- Follicular unit extraction (FUE)
In FUE, surgeons can individually extract follicular units and transplant them to areas of hair loss. By separately harvesting hairs, the technique allows surgeons to carefully choose follicular units (grafts) based on strength, location, and density which in return means better results. To extract follicular units, surgeons employ a micro-punch to isolate the groups. Then using surgical forceps, surgeons will gently remove the grafts and store them in a saline solution until implantation.
- Follicular unit transplantation (FUT)
In FUT, surgeons have to surgically remove the entire strip of donor’s hair in order to extract follicles. After excision, surgeons will stitch the area and dissect the strip. Then store the follicular grafts in a saline solution until implantation. This technique of extraction leaves a linear scar on the scalp and requires extended recovery periods. It is, after all, a more invasive procedure than the FUE microsurgery. The problem with this technique is the effect of the linear scar, which people tend to stray away from as it limits their choice of hairstyles.
Alternatives to hair transplant in the UK:
There is a silver lining to those who cannot perform the surgery in the UK when realizing that there are other options abroad. If hair transplantations are not accessible to some patients in the UK, it is not a problem. There are many alternatives to the UK where patients can undergo hair restoration surgeries with just as much success and standard of quality.
Among the many choices is the world’s favorite hair transplant destination: Turkey. For many people in the UK, Turkey may not seem an impressive place at first which makes them often reluctant. However, perhaps if we compare the hair transplant industry in Turkey to that of the UK, we might be able to address all issues.
Hair transplant in the UK vs Turkey:
Safety and regulations
Just like in the UK, the Turkish government closely monitors health care providers within its borders. Hair transplant clinics are no exception. In addition to government certification, many health care institutions in Turkey have the seal of approval from multiple international medical boards. However, to be on the safe side, the patient should do the diligence. Checking the accreditation of hospitals that clinics in Turkey are collaborating with is a necessary precaution. In the UK a popular program is the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which patients can use to scan their hospital of choice’s credibility or the surgeon’s certifications. In Turkey, patients use a similar website to examine hospital credibility. For local certification, patients should visit the following PDF file. For international accreditation, patients can visit JCI webpage or ISHRS webpage.
Unlike the UK, Turkish hair transplant clinics rarely implement the FUT technique. As a matter of fact, the method will almost disappear from the market. Instead, several variations of FUE are replacing it. The competition between clinics in Turkey allows for the constant advancement of many modern varieties of the FUE. Such as Sapphire FUE, OSL FUE, DHI Choi FUE and many more. The standard FUE method is continuously developing to shorten surgery time, eliminate scarring, eliminate disturbance of surrounding tissue, and optimize results.
Quality to Costs
A mistake that patients often make regarding treatments abroad is that they associate lower prices with poor quality. Low costs are never an accurate indicator of quality. This information is false and misleading. Low surgery prices in turkey are not a result of poor quality, and neither are they a consequence of the intense rivalry between clinics — the rates of hair restoration in Turkey range between 1500 to 2500 dollars which is significantly lower compared to hair transplant prices in the UK. However, 1500 dollars in the UK might not seem significant, an entire family in Turkey can live off of it for a month.
Waiting time and accessibility:
Waiting lists are not a problem in Turkey. Istanbul alone hosts over 350 clinics that can cater to the needs of the thousands of international patients upon request. Easy access is another advantage to Turkey over the UK. Not only is the abundance of clinics advantageous in means of access, but it offers patients the freedom of choice. Each hair transplantation clinic is unique in terms of services and quality. Giving patients the flexibility needed to pick and choose based on their personal needs.
The low prices of hair transplantation in Turkey make cost-related access to patients a non-existing obstacle.
Of course, the surgeons in both countries are of high caliber in the field and have ample experience in hair transportation. However, Istanbul being the hair transplant capital of the world, it welcomes thousands of patients on the daily, even with the that many clinics, most of its surgeons have had constant practice and experience on many types of hair.
Why consider medical tourism in Turkey:
Health tourism is on the rise
The inquiries from UK citizens regarding hair transplant has increased so much in the past year. With many celebrities opting for hair transplantation, the stigma surrounding this issue has significantly gone down, and many people have grown more open about it. Research about hair transplant in Turkey from UK citizens has increased by 215% in the past year.
However, in general, medical tourism has become a global trend. The concept is very appealing. The thrill and curiosity that comes with receiving a life-changing makeover abroad are very rewarding to most. And they cannot be blamed, what is not to love about experiencing a new culture and simultaneously restoring one’s confidence. It is two birds one stone type of experience.
History, culture, and geographical position
As Turkey encompasses both Asia and Europe, it is easily accessible by air for Europeans and Asians alike. The perks of its geographical position are not only limited to means of access. It gives the country its persona. Turkey is known to be modern with a hint of ancient. European with a twist of middle eastern. So, one can only begin to imagine the cuisine that comes from such cultural diversity. Not to mention all the places that can be visited and activities that can be done. In summary, Turkey has the best of both worlds.
No language barrier
Most patients who cannot afford hair transplantation in the UK, are reluctant to seek the treatment abroad due to language barriers. So if this is what is holding patients back from getting hair transplantation In Turkey, well they can exhale in relief. The language barrier is not an obstacle that hair transplant patients would face in Turkey. Most, if not all, clinics offer oral translation services to facilitate communication between patients and doctors.
Packages for international patients
Hair transplant clinics in Turkey are all for the comfort of their patients. Most clinics include services to make sure international patients have a relaxed stay away from home. These service packages include almost everything international patients need. More often than not they contain transportation, accommodation, translation, aftercare kits.
Quality of care
All internationally certified hospitals in Turkey provide a high quality of care. To maintain its reputation as the world’s go-to destination for medical tourism, Turkey is very strict with its regulations. It is not easy to earn a title as such with the global competition on medical tourism. With that, if Turkey does not consistently put in the effort to maintain its reputation, another country will earn it.
For that reason, the Turkish government is regularly performing spontaneous inspections on every medical institution within its boundaries. This Is to monitor the quality of care and scan the clinics according to international medical guidelines.
Moreover, medical care providers in Turkey are always up to date with modern medical advancements. Turkey has become a leading country in medical equipment manufacturing. To word it differently hospitals in Turkey have easy access to state-of-the-art medical equipment since they locally manufacture them.
To avoid disappointments:
There are three things to look out for when doing a hair transplant. Whether in the UK or Turkey, specific precautionary measures need to be considered.
1- Years of experience
Whether a patient chooses to undergo hair transplant in the UK or Turkey, it is essential to check if the surgeons have adequate experience. The number of surgeries alone is not an indicator of quality. Patients should couple this number with pictures of successful results to make the right judgment.
“Quantity alone is not necessarily a guarantee of quality, but it is an indication of competency,” says Joshua R. Sonett
Reading reviews on google should give you an idea of the quality of care and services being rendered — no better feedback than firsthand experience.
This is the most critical precaution of all. Patients should always check if the clinic of interest is accredited by the government. It is even better if the clinic of choice has the seal of approval from international hair transplant boards.
Hair loss is an incident that has its distressing psychological effects on people affected by it. So while it might seem that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel when considering the costs and limited techniques in the UK -patients should remember that there are always other options other than coexisting with their low self-esteem. Turkey offers versatility in hair transplant treatments with high standards of quality. Moreover, it is continuously advancing so that most clinics offer only cutting-edge techniques. Turkish hair transplant clinics are also very considerate towards their international patients and provide services that cover all their needs. To top it off, the hair transplantation along with the luxurious facilities is within the average British person’s budget.