I started to experience hair loss at the age of 22, as a senior in college. I remember my best friend taking me to the side during one of our cultural show performances that I was running - “Hey uhh so not to be mean but we need to talk about your hair loss. What in the world have you been doing? You’re losing so much hair; it happened overnight, man!!”
Unfortunately, I wasn’t doing anything wrong and instead, I was just an early victim to the male pattern baldness genetics that ran in my family. Currently I’m almost 25 years young, and for the past 2.5 years, I tried every avenue I could (besides Finasteride due to its possible side effects) to get my hair back - or at least to stop any more loss. I got medical tests run on my thyroid and anything that involved hair loss. I asked my Indian relatives to send ayurvedic hair oils. I tried hair loss shampoos. I tried Minoxidil (Rogaine). I tried Biotin supplements. I even overate almonds since they’re supposed to be good for your hair. Nothing was working and every time I looked in the mirror, I saw less and less hair on my head.
With the loss of my hair, I was also losing confidence in myself. Instead of being the extrovert who loved taking pictures with others and dressing up to go to events, I was starting to avoid seeing people. I stopped going to the gym because “I’m getting ugly anyway”. When I talked to my family and friends about what was happening, the general response was “Sorry to hear that, I wish there was something I could do.” Because I’m lucky, most also reaffirmed me that I was still the same person they’ve always known and encouraged me to embrace what was happening.
I had heard of people getting cosmetic procedures to fix their bodies in a plethora of ways, but that wasn’t for me. I believed that only vain people were willing to pay extensive amounts of money and even more importantly change their bodies to look better. The more hair I lost though, the more I considered looking into a surgical alternative. I finally decided to take a big step and visit a local cosmetic specialist for a consultation. He said that even though I was young, the change could be seen. Since the hair loss wasn’t horrible yet (although the natural hairs on my head could continue to keep falling out), I was an ideal candidate. Everything sounded really wonderful...until I got the billing estimate. For ARTAS FUE, it was coming out to $19,000 for 2,000 implants. Even after spending $19,000, those 2,000 implants wouldn’t give me back the original hair coverage that I had only a year ago.
I then spoke with my family, who has always been the ‘rock’ of my life. My parents said that although the procedure had the value of almost all my student loans, I should still consider it if it makes me feel happier and more valued. Even after talking about the procedure with numerous family and friends, I couldn’t get my head wrapped around spending that much money just to get my hair back. As I looked more into it, a website I was using extensively for feedback of those who got some sort of hair transplant (FUE, FUT, etc.) was RealSelf.com. The more I read, the more I wanted to get the procedure…without the loans or financial burden.
After exploring the website, I came across reviews of people who went abroad for their procedures – usually to Turkey, Eastern Europe, or somewhere in Asia. Being of Indian descent, I looked at the reviews of those who went to India, but there were serious comments that were brought up about sanitation and cleanliness in some of these clinics. Each country had it’s up and down sides of going for a procedure. The main factors for me involved hygiene, cost of procedure, convenience of getting to that country (Would I need a visa? How long is the flight? Is it safe to travel there as a foreigner?), cost of airfare, quality of the work, and overall client satisfaction.
With keeping the above information in mind, I decided to go to Turkey for the procedure and that too specifically, with Dr. Maral. At the time of my contact, their rate was not per hair follicle, but instead for one of two options: less than 3,000 grafts would cost €1,800 or more than that (usually up to 5,000 - which is the upper limit of available donors for the average male) for €2,000. That included 3 nights at a 3 star hotel (with breakfast), transport to/from the airport and hotel, transport to/from the hotel and clinic, procedure, lunch on the day of the procedure, medicine (paracetamol, antibiotics, & anti-inflammatory meds), lotion and paraben free medical grade shampoo, and a fedora to wear post procedure.
The hotel was no frills, but clean and efficient. Their breakfast wasn’t amazing, but for what I was paying, I believed it was satisfactory. In my case, I visited Istanbul a few days earlier than I was scheduled so I could enjoy the beautiful city before going in for the procedure. I checked out of my other hotel on Wednesday (11/18) morning and from there was taken straight to the clinic. I was insanely nervous about the whole thing, but from the moment I stepped in, everyone was smiling, warm, and friendly. The office is top notch in terms of location, and has a very modern decor/feel to it. They have security cameras at the entrance and you have to buzz in before you can enter.
After paying their wonderful (emphasis on that!!) assistant at the desk, I was taken to Dr. Maral’s office for my pre-procedure consultation. We discussed the procedure, expectations (he was very open about it with me), and then after my consent, we started prep for the procedure. One thing that I should mention is that because I’m so young, Dr. Maral said that my hair loss cycle may continue...and the best way to stop that is for me to take finasteride for a one year duration. I was extremely against it before I went in, but after discussing the side effects, consequences, and benefits of taking a small dose of it, I decided to start on that post procedure.
We went to one of the operating rooms, where the super cheerful and nice techs shaved my hair down so we could see my hairline and areas of density better. Once that was done (it was so hard for me because 1. I have never shaved my hair before and 2. I was very protective of my hair since I was losing it so fast), I went back to Dr. Maral’s office, where we drew the hairline and areas of density. Once that was decided, I went back and my entire head was buzzed down as much as possible so that only scalp remained.
We then started the procedure (the worst part of the whole thing is when you have to get the two rounds of local anesthetic injections). Once the back of my head was numbed, they took donor follicles/grafts. After that was done, we took a lunch break, where I met a few others who were also there for their procedure. Afterwards, we went back for round two - the actual implants. Another round of numbing injections and then the channels were created on my head. Thereafter, it took the team 5 hours to put in my 4,850 grafts. In total, the procedure took about 8.5 hours from the time I walked into the clinic until I left.
All in all, I HIGHLY recommend Dr. Maral’s clinic. I am writing this review on day 9 post procedure, so I have a long ways to go, but will try to post updates with pictures every few weeks.
I know that this review was very long, but I have truly appreciated the honesty and details from other reviewers and wanted to do my due diligence as well. A few things I wanted to highlight/recommend:
1) I packed a lot of t-shirts and hoodies to stay comfy post procedure, but didn’t realize (silly me!) that your head cannot touch anything. Pack button up shirts that you can feel comfortable in, because those will be the best way to change clothes without having to ask for help.
2)Lots of people on here are so concerned about the cost per hair. Unlike the US, this clinic charges by the total amount of grafts - less than 3,000 has a set price and more than 3,000 has one. Email them for info.
3) People are also concerned about the Dr. not performing the entire procedure. Yes, technicians perform most of the procedure but they rotate every 30 minutes to make sure that the main operator is alert and fresh (to avoid error). Only one specialized tech (I think her name is Noor?) who has over 10 years of experience opens the channels for the hair implants and does a wonderful job. Also - think about it logically...if you wanted to doctor to perform a 8+ hour procedure on you, don’t you think his eye will be strained when doing work at such a micro level? He oversees the work and I didn’t have any problems with this. Trust your techs.
4) Everyone’s English is great. They may not be able to understand you 100% if you’re like me and speak really fast with your American accent. Be considerate of that and you’ll have zero difficulty communicating with everyone.
5) The doctor is very straightforward and honest. Be open with him about your concerns and he’ll address them very truthfully.
6) I read in forums that the techs watch TV while performing your procedure. That is incorrect. There is a TV on in the room with a music channel so that you have something to watch during the procedure. The techs are usually talking to each other in Turkish and laughing and having a good time. They are VERY attentive to you. I remember that I cringed a little bit and made a face when I was in pain during the insertion of a follicle and right way they stopped and asked me if I was okay.
I have lots more I can share but will leave it here. If you have more questions, feel free to ask on here or send me a message!