Last updated: 02:13 PM ET, Fri March 06 2015

Head to Turkey For The Hair You've Always Wanted (Air Included)

Tour Operator | David Cogswell | March 06, 2015

Head to Turkey For The Hair You've Always Wanted (Air Included)

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Feeling self conscious about that bald spot? How about a trip to Turkey?

Turkey is becoming the hair transplant center of the medical tourism industry.

The medical tourism market is important to Turkey because a medical tour nets the country much more revenue than most of the standard packaged tours that bring tourists to the country. According to Reuters, 37 million tourists visit Turkey annually and 270,000 of them go for medical tourism. It generates $1 billion in tourism revenue.

Hair transplants are a significant chunk of that revenue. According to Dr. Tugrul Maral, chief plastic surgeon of the Maral Klinik, about 15,000 people come to Turkey annually for hair transplants. It accounts for about 5 percent of the medical tourism revenue.  

Turkey wants that revenue and wants to be beat out competitors such as Spain and Greece.

To support medical tourism, Turkey’s parliament has passed laws making it easier for foreign investors to invest in Turkey’s medical tourism industry. Notable international investment firms are investing in the sector, including Malaysia's state investment arm Khazanah Nasional, emerging markets investor ADM Capital, Qatar's First Investment Bank, the World Bank's International Finance Corp (IFC) and the Carlyle Group, famous for its members in the Bush and bin Laden families.

Do the Math

Why would anyone want to travel overseas for a medical procedure? Apparently, with soaring healthcare costs in the U.S., it can be less expensive to travel abroad for medical treatments. The savings can be enough to more than cover the cost of the trip.

TWCI, a U.S.-based medical tourism provider specializing in Costa Rica and Colombia, claims it can provide an 83 percent savings on a knee replacement operation ($8,450 versus $50,000 in the U.S.) or a 61 percent savings on a gastric bypass.

TWCI states the rationale for medical tourism on its website:

“As medical costs continue to spiral out of control and access to timely, quality, medical care quickly decreased, the TWCI founders built the foundation of their international wellness vision….

“It is no secret that our U.S. healthcare systems are broken. With ten-minute office visits costing upwards to $370 (USD), and medical administrators focused on the bottom-line costs, seeking healthcare outside of the US and Canada is an attractive option. And while cost is an issue for those in the U.S., the ability to obtain timely healthcare affects those in Canada.”

With the U.S. population ageing and baby boomers reaching the age when they need medical treatments, the sector is booming and has enormous growth potential.

Medical tourism has become such a large phenomenon there is a Medical Tourism Association that publishes destination guides and its own magazine.

Mix-and-Match Packaging

With many countries competing for medical tourism, you can get just about whatever you want, combined with cultural tourism, a beach vacation or you name it.

Orion Tours is an Istanbul, Turkey-based tour operator that offers a range of tour types, including general interest tourism as well as specialties such as religious pilgrimages, Jewish heritage and medical tourism.

Those services include ophthalmology, dentistry, plastic surgery, thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, cancer treatments, general surgery and hair transplantation.

The medical component can be combined with any of Orion’s other tour offerings, including trips to Istanbul, Bursa, Cappadocia, Izmir and Kusadasi.

Orion will make all the arrangements necessary for the medial procedures, such as booking doctor consultations and hospital rooms will provide leads for breast enlargement, breast uplift or breast reduction, as well as tummy tuck, arm lift, facelift, chin augmentation, nose construction, pretty much whatever you need to make yourself perfect.

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