Hi everyone. So I just want to share the experience I had with my hair transplant procedure last week.
I'm 29 years old and I've been wanting to do something about my hair for a few years now. A lot of people thought I was crazy when I told them I hated my hair, but I know my body the best and I could clearly tell that my hairline was receding and my head was getting less and less full of hair over the last few years. It really took a toll on my confidence. Unfortunately, I could not afford a ht here in the US. My barber is the one who told me about Turkey during one of my haircuts last year, and then I began to do my research.
I was originally going to choose Smile Hair Clinic in Istanbul, but after joining the Facebook group "Hair Loss Conquerors", I decided to go with Dr. Ziya Yavuz, as he seemed to have the most positive comments overall, and other users suggested him to me. I booked a "sapphire" FUE with Dr. Yavuz for my brother and I, and we flew out to Istanbul from NY on Jan 11th. When we arrived at the airport, it was Sunday AM (Jan 12th). The car service was in the waiting area to pick us up. They drove us to the Hilton in Istanbul, which was a beautiful hotel and we had a nice room with a great view of the city sky line. We decided to do a guided tour of the city while we were there, because why not?
The morning of our procedures, we woke up and had breakfast at the buffet in the hotel. We went back to our room, and the front desk called us to let us know that our driver had arrived. We were greeted by a friendly older Turkish man, who drove us to the clinic (located in Acibadem Hospital) in a nice Mercedes sedan. We were greeted by one of Dr. Yavuz's female patient coordinators in the lobby, who took us up to the clinic on the 4th floor of the hospital. My brother and I filled out some paperwork, and then the doctor came out to introduce himself. Dr. Yavuz was very friendly and spoke great English. He had asked us if we were taking any medications. My brother told him no, so he gave my brother a pill for relaxation (I'm assuming Xanax). I take medication for OCD/depression, so when I told the doctor that I am on medication and had in fact taken one of them that same morning, he didn't give me the sedative, which sucked, because I had my own Xanax and didn't take it because I figured he'd give me something lol. No big deal.
We decided I would go first. I went into a room with Dr. Yavuz where he pulled up the pictures I had previously sent and asked me what my goals were. He then got a measuring tape and marker and drew a hairline for me, and asked how it looked. I agreed that I liked its and then I had my head shaved. I then went into the operating room with the techs/nurses. They drew some blood to test for HIV and other blood-related diseases and to get some plasma for the PRP injections that they administered before starting the procedure. All test results came back fine. Dr. Yavuz came back in the room to administer the anesthesia. The first part was the "needle-free" anesthesia, which really just felt like some rubber bands snapping on my scalp. The pain wasn't bad. Then, the needle anesthetic came and it hurt a bit more in certain spots. Dr. Yavuz was in the room for a little while while the techs/nurses started extracting the grafts and they showed me what the grafts look like. Dr. Yavuz left and said he'd be back to open the channels once the extraction was done. Not going to lie, the extraction was pretty damn painful. There were parts where I wanted to ask for more anesthetic, because I actually felt like it wasn't working, but I stupidly didn't say anything.
I still had an IV in my arm so I believe they had actually sedated me a little more, because I remember falling asleep for a while and being a little drowsy when I woke up and they were still doing the extractions. Dr. Yavuz then came back in the room to open the channels. He asked how I was doing, then showed me the sapphire blade. He opened up the channels in my head, which wasn't that bad compared to the graft extractions. When he was done, the techs/nurses went to work on putting in the grafts. Some more pain during this part, but again, I think the extractions were the worst. I was pretty drowsy and kept moving because I was actually falling asleep lol. The techs kept asking me to stay still, and I apologized. They were not speaking English during the procedure, only when they told me not to move.
After I was done, I was brought into a room where I was given a lunch. My brother was still having his done in another operating room. I think the procedure lasted about 5-6 hours total. More so than the pain of the procedure, I think the worst part was trying to lay comfortably for that long stretch of time. The "table" I was laying on was more like a dentist's chair, so it was hard to lay in certain positions.
Eventually my brother came out of his procedure and all went well, though he agreed it was painful and said that they gave him more anesthesia at one point because he was agitated and he also took a lunch break in between. They wrapped our heads up, gave us the meds we needed to take for the next few days and explained the instructions. They also told me they were able to do 3900 grafts for me, as I was initially quoted 3800. My brother was estimated at 3500 grafts and he ended up with 3600. The the driver took us back to the hotel and the next morning, he picked us up again and brought us back for the follow up. They took our bandages off and applied some iodine-type substance to our donor areas and send us on our way. The next day, we were picked up again for our first wash by the same car service company that picked us up at the airport (not the same driver in the Mercedes that took us to/from our clinic appointments previously). The patient coordinator explained to us the washing/after care process, as the nurse washed our heads. The doctor also came to see us and see if we had any questions before we left. Of course, they also tried selling us some extra supplements but there was no pressure, and we declined.
My only real complaint about this experience was that we had asked prior to going if they would accept a Discover credit card for my brother's procedure and we were told yes. When we got there, they told us that the payment could not go through on a Discover card, so thankfully I had a MasterCard with me and we were able to pay with that and my brother gave me the money when we got home. Would've saved us some stress, but at least it all worked out.
There's probably some other details I'm leaving out, but that's really it for the most part. Overall, a good experience aside from the procedure itself being a bit more painful than expected. The pain after the procedure and up until now has been minimal and I think everything is healing nicely so far. I actually went to my primary care doctor today because I thought I had the flu (thankfully I don't) and I told her about the whole thing, and she even said it looks good and like it's healing nicely lol!
All in all, I paid 2200 euros (a bit under $2500 USD) for the procedure which included 3-night stay at a Hilton in Istanbul and car service to/from the airport, all clinic appointments and the hotel. My flight was about $1,000 USD but I had some credit card reward points so I paid about $850 for a round trip non-stop flight on Turkish Airlines. Dr. Yavuz's team at Acibadem Hospital is super organized and friendly, and they reply very timely via Whats App. I had some questions about some minor swelling I had when I returned and they asked me to send pictures, which I did, and I was advised to apply ice and keep taking the meds they gave (steroids, antibiotic). I did, and the swelling went down the next day or so. Keeping my fingers crossed that healing will continue to go well and that I'll get nice results.
The first side by side picture shows me on the left in 2011 (age 21) and me about a week or so prior to the procedure. The other pic collage are the pics I sent to Dr. Yavuz's team in November, and the mirror selfie is me just minutes after my procedure finished, followed by a pic from a few hours later. Finally the gross pics of the back of my head/donor area are from the day after the procedure when the bandages were removed lol.
I'll post some new pics tomorrow since my scabs are finally starting to come off a bit and it will be one full week since this was done. Stay turned for tomorrow's update!