With $1 billion worth of business in 2014 alone, Turkey is the leading country in the world for hair transplant surgical operations. The average cost of a hair transplant operation in Turkey ranges from $1,700 and $2,000, while the same operation in Britain or the U.S. could cost up to $25,000.
The number of patients who pour into the country to graft their hair is approximately 5,000 per month, with some 3,500 coming from Arab countries (mainly the Gulf nations and Saudi Arabia). Photojournalist Emanuele Satolli moved to Istanbul in 2015 and began observing the large number of health tourists pouring into the country. The lure of cheap costs for large operations, specifically hair transplants, has made the country a major center for foreigners seeking affordable cosmetic beauty treatments.
The fact that Arabs are such a large part of the total number is caused by a number of factors. The hot and dry climate of their countries, the habit of covering their heads, and the use of purified sea water for personal hygiene all can contribute to hair weakening. And in Arab culture, strong hair is often considered highly desirable for men.
The technique employed is known as FUE (follicular unit extraction). It consist of harvesting around 4,000 individual follicular units from the posterior scalp, and meticulously transplanting each one of them where needed, accordingly to a predetermined density and pattern.
Most Arab patients take this opportunity to come and spend four or five days in Istanbul with their families.
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