Cheap hair transplants abroad are risky, warn UAE health experts
The infected scalp of an Abu Dhabi resident after an overseas hair transplant procedure.
Abu Dhabi - Health professionals in the UAE have also stepped in to urge people to do their homework when it comes seeking cosmetic treatment abroad.
An Abu Dhabi resident, who was left with a scalp infection after travelling abroad for a hair transplant, is warning residents not be lured by the affordable prices in overseas cosmetic procedures.
Health professionals in the UAE have also stepped in to urge people to do their homework when it comes seeking cosmetic treatment abroad, as a large proportion of their clientele present with issues that require corrective intervention following botched treatment overseas.
"In our clinic, almost 25 per cent of patients present to us repair cases following poor hair transplant procedures abroad. Unfortunately, we have cases where nothing can be done due to a destroyed donor area," Dr Dimitiros Ziakas from Al Borg Hair Clinic told Khaleej Times.
Hair transplants work by extracting a hair follicle from a donor area (a place where hair still grows). It is then implanted directly into the recipient area.
Though opting for hair transplant procedures abroad is appealing to clients because of the cheap rates compared to the UAE, Dr Ziakas said research is vital before choosing a clinic.
"Most of the cheap clinics abroad offer procedures performed by technicians, not doctors, and often in a country with loose health regulations. The risks of this is poor respect of donor and recipient areas; and since the donor area is limited, there shouldn't be any destruction or losses to follicules." And like any medical treatment there is also a "risk of side effects like infections, swelling and necrosis".
At his clinic, procedures can cost between Dh15,000 and Dh40,000, depending on hair loss.
At Advanced Hair Studio in Dubai, Sanket Shah, CEO, said a staggering 90 per cent of their UAE clientele come with corrective treatment needs. "A lot of countries that offer cheap treatment have no set health regulations when it comes to hair transplant procedures. Most of the people carrying out the transplant are technicians and they operate in clinics without a doctor."
Among some of the most common issues that clients present with at their two clinics in Dubai following overseas treatment - "predominantly in Turkey" - include gaps left in existing hair, hair growing in the wrong direction and poor placement of follicles.
"I would say nine out of 10 of our clients have had to come to us for corrective rather than enhancing procedures. What they do to attract customers is build a package, including flight, accommodation and procedure for as low as a few thousand euros; and unfortunately, people bite."
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Dr Sanjay Parashar, consultant plastic surgeon at Cocoona Centre for Aesthetic Transformation, said it regularly treats patients who come for corrective treatments.
"At least five to six per month. For example, a number of people travel abroad for surgery from Dubai. But many hair clinics abroad don't treat the procedure like a medical procedure. They literally have a production-like setup where one doctor is overseeing 5-6 surgeries and technicians are doing the majority of the work."
And in a setup like that there are "serious protocol violations, with increased risk of infections".
In his clinic, the cost of the surgery can be anywhere from Dh12,000 to Dh50,000, depending on the case. While this is a lot higher compared to cheaper transplant treatments abroad, he said what people fail to understand is the importance of aftercare.
"The most important thing to consider in a medical treatment when done abroad is the aftercare. In a procedure like hair transplant, one needs to ensure they follow post procedure protocols, care and follow-ups. To enhance the results, most patients need supportive treatments like PRP, MESO, and vitamin therapy. Patients who travel abroad just to save on cost end up compromising on the post care. Which often leads to poor results and an unsuccessful surgery."