Turkish surgeon revolutionizes hair transplant practice

Turkey’s health tourism owes much to hair transplants. The world’s most skilled plastic surgeons draw thousands of people every year to the country, which is in the top three in hair transplants. Dr. Ali Emre Karadeniz is among them, serving people seeking transplants.

Karadeniz stands out among his colleagues with his transplant method he calls “comb and go.” The method allows recipients to go back to their daily lives immediately after the operation and leaves no telltale trace of surgery. Thus, recipients differ from fellow hair hopefuls who are often seen in hotels and airports with bandages on their heads.

Karadeniz, the only surgeon with a hair transplant certificate from the United States in Türkiye, is among the three surgeons in the world who can operate with this method. He currently admits only a limited number of patients for his long hair transplant surgeries and only through reference from other patients.

Explaining his technique, Dr. Karadeniz said he first interviews the recipient and discusses hair design exclusive to him. “In a few sessions, you can use your hair without the risk of it falling out for a long time. Our work is primarily hair design philosophy and only a small portion of it involves medical procedures. This philosophy makes it natural,” he says.

This photo provided by Dr. Karadeniz shows the “before” and “after” phases of a transplant, Istanbul, Turkey.

Through a minor plastic surgery operation and without the need for existing hair on the head, hair root grafts are combined with long hair. Hair grafts are extracted under a microscope and long hair is moved to areas on the head with falling hair. “We don’t need to shave even one piece of hair. Planted grafts are transplanted with long hair and you can comb it immediately after the process. We see off our patients after blow drying and combing their hair,” he explained.

Karadeniz stated that it took one year to see a concrete result in the conventional follicular unit extraction (FUE) method, while their technique allowed patients to see a preliminary result immediately after surgery. “Another advantage is using a limited hair resource, so hair does not go to waste. Tissue damage is also far low compared to FUE,” he highlighted.

Feedback has been good so far and Karadeniz said Mostly “busy” people and “those with social lives who cannot afford going around (with surgery traces), like businesspeople, actors or singers,” he said. “Celebrities mostly prefer this method as they don’t want the public to know that they had a hair transplant. We even had actors here who completed their hair transplant during breaks from film shooting and we completed their procedures in just two days,” he added.

Karadeniz also counts women among his patients. “They tell us that their friends were amazed how they got new hair in such a short time and we are happy with this positive feedback,” he said. Also, those unsatisfied with transplants elsewhere, visit Karadeniz’s Clinic in Istanbul for their next shot at having new hair.

The technique is also used in eyebrow transplants. FUE does not allow a preview of the transplant but “comb and go” enables patients to see how the curve of their eyebrows will be. “We see unnatural results in FUE eyebrow transplants, but with our method, you can adjust the direction of hair and obtain a natural look,” Karadeniz explained.

Dr. Emre Ilhan, a renowned plastic surgeon specializing in rhinoplasty, is among the patients of Karadeniz. In a social media post, Ilhan said the method genuinely allowed him to “comb and go.” “Unlike FUE, there are no scars at the back of the head and you can have further transplants in the future as the spot the hair is extracted from remains intact,” he said.

Turkey became one of the main centers in the world for hair transplants. In the first six months of 2022, some 550,000 people from more than 100 countries visited the country for hair transplants. The hair transplant “tourists” contribute some $2 billion to Turkey’s health tourism, while the country’s health tourism forecast by the end of 2022 is $4 billion.

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