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Hair Transplant Tourism: Is a Cheap Hair Transplant Worth the Cost?

Thinking of getting a hair transplant? If so, chances are you’ve come across the idea of hair transplant tourism – traveling to another country to get a lower-cost hair transplant procedure done. If you’re wondering where to get a hair transplant, it’s important to make an informed decision that makes the most sense for your budget and the level of risk you’re comfortable with. Learn about hair transplant tourism, the potential risks of getting a hair transplant abroad, and why getting a hair transplant done closer to home at a clinic like Bosley is the most cost-effective option after all.

Why Are Some Hair Transplants Cheaper Than Others?

Hair transplant clinics abroad, such as in Turkey, India, or Thailand, often charge lower rates than the U.S. While reasons for this vary from country to country, clinics outside the U.S. are typically able to charge less due to lower overhead expenses, currency exchange rates, and a lack of medical regulation allowing clinics to cut costs. And in certain countries where hair transplant tourism is especially popular, competition is fierce – causing price wars that incentivize clinics to cut back on essential services just to turn a profit.

Companies in other countries may cut overhead expenses by employing staff who don’t have medical degrees to work on patients. But in the United States, there are strict rules on which medical professionals can perform a procedure.  For example, in most states, only a doctor or physician assistant can cut the skin to excise a hair follicle. At Bosley, we only use fully licensed medical providers to perform hair transplant procedures.

It’s important to remember that a hair transplant is a surgical procedure, one that should always be performed by a licensed, trained professional who specializes in hair restoration surgery. Hair transplants performed abroad by technicians who do not have medical licenses or surgical training run the risk of being unsafe, ineffective, or – let’s face it – just plain ugly. But they also may certainly be cheaper.

Hair Transplant Tourism Risks

Any surgery involves some level of risk, but when done properly, a hair transplant is a safe, minimally invasive procedure. Getting a hair transplant abroad can make it difficult to make sure you get your hair transplant done right. Some risks can be mitigated with careful research, but not all of them.

In fact, the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery strongly cautions against traveling to get the cheapest hair transplant. In its campaign Fight the FIGHT (for Fraudulent, Illicit, Global Hair Transplants), it warns: “When performed by a licensed and trained medical doctor, hair transplants are a safe hair loss solution. However, non-doctors, with little-to-no training, are also performing surgeries. They promise low prices plus guaranteed results, et can deliver terrible results[1].”

Here are a few risks of getting a hair transplant abroad to be aware of:

  • Your hair transplant may not be performed by a qualified physician.
    Black market hair transplants done by “technicians” without a medical license have become increasingly prevalent in countries with a lot of hair transplant tourism.
  • Your technician may overharvest your hair follicles.

Many hair transplants done abroad overharvest hair follicle grafts – meaning they remove and transplant too many hair follicles, which can cause thin, uneven, patchy hair in places that used to be full.

Hair Transplant Overharvest
Example of overharvesting from overseas hair transplant
  • Your hairline may not look very natural.
    Hair restoration is as much an art as it is a science. While Bosley surgeons focus on providing a natural-looking, virtually undetectable, age-appropriate hairline, many overseas clinics provide hairlines that are overcrowded or so low that they don’t look natural.
  • You might face complications from an improper hair transplant.

Whether you face an infection or healing difficulties or your hair transplant doesn’t take properly, it can be difficult to resolve complications with the same clinic and have continuity of care when the clinic is across the world.

  • You may need a second hair transplant… and that may not be an option.

If the hair transplant you received didn’t yield the results you were hoping it would, you may need to get a second hair transplant to correct the first one – which will either be expensive or impossible if your hair follicles were overharvested.

  • You may face a language barrier.

It may be difficult to properly vet a clinic or communicate exactly the results you’re hoping for with a language barrier.

  • You may not be able to have any follow-up visits.

Given the cost of travel, you may not be able to have follow-up appointments to make sure your recovery and regrowth are on track.

  • You may not have reliable medical care should something go wrong.

Hair transplant surgery complications are rare, but not unheard of – especially if the surgery isn’t being performed properly.

  • You may miss out on restoring your hair to its fullest.

Bottom line is, you might pay a few thousand dollars and still not get the hair you were hoping for.

How to Decide Where to Get a Hair Transplant

Risks being what they are, that does not mean that getting a hair transplant abroad is always the wrong decision – or that getting a hair transplant in the USA is automatically a homerun. It’s important to research the clinics you’re considering as much as possible, whether they are based in the USA or overseas. Here’s an outline of how to do your due diligence:

  • Read Reviews
    Check out reviews of individual clinics abroad. Seek out third-party review sites for the most candid, unbiased reviews.

  • Ask the Right Questions
    Once you’ve narrowed your search to a few clinics, it’s important to ask the right questions to make sure they uphold the strictest safety and ethical standards. The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgeons recommends asking the following questions[2]:
  • Who will evaluate my hair loss and recommend a course of treatment? What is their education, training, licensure, and experience in treating hair loss?
  • Who will be involved in performing my surgery, what role will they play, and what is their education, training, licensure, and experience performing hair restoration surgery?
  • Will anyone other than the doctor, or not licensed by the state, be making incisions or harvesting grafts during my surgery? If so, please identify this person, explain their specific role and credentials, and why they are legally permitted to perform surgery.
    • Is everyone involved in my surgery covered by malpractice insurance?
  • Consider Your Budget

Figure out how much you’re willing to spend on restoring your hair, then run some numbers. Consider the cost of surgery itself as well as the cost of airfare, accommodations, other travel expenses, and additional medical care if needed to fix it if something goes wrong. While the per-graft cost may sound appealingly low, the cost of medical tourism can add up fast. (It may be worth getting a quote from a few clinics to compare.)

  • Consider Your Goals
    This decision really boils down to this: How much is your hair worth to you? How will you feel if you aren’t happy with the results? Even a lower-cost hair transplant is still a large chunk of change – and is a poor hair transplant worth it? Consider the result you’re trying to achieve and do your research to figure out what clinic can best help you achieve that.

Is a Cheap Hair Transplant Worth the Cost?

Ultimately, that decision is up to you. If you’re willing to do some careful research and the risks described above sound reasonable for the potential cost-savings, hair transplant tourism may be worth considering. But if the price isn’t your only concern, getting a hair transplant from a trusted, reputable clinic in the USA, such as Bosley, will likely involve fewer risks and yield better-looking results.

Where to Get a Hair Transplant in the USA

There’s no substitute for the skill and experience of a highly trained hair transplant physician. At Bosley, all of our procedures are performed by experienced physicians using the latest hair transplant techniques and technology. Bosley physicians have dedicated their careers to the art and science of hair restoration in order to provide patients with the highest degree of surgical excellence.  And with many convenient locations across the U.S., you don’t have to travel thousands of miles to restore your hair. (Unless you’d like to take advantage of Bosley travel offers and make a trip of it!)

If you’re looking for a solution to your hair loss, trust the Bosley experts. Bosley has been a leader in the industry for 50 years. Before traveling outside the United States, find a Bosley location near you and schedule a free hair loss consultation.


  1. https://fightthefight.ishrs.org/medical-tourism/
  2. https://fightthefight.ishrs.org/tips-to-avoid-bad-hair-transplant-clinic/#more-884

What to do next?

To learn more about your hair restoration options and the average hair transplant timeline, The Complete Book on Hair Restoration, to see how great your hair can look. If you’re ready to do something about that bald spot or thinning hair now, schedule a FREE in-person or video consultation with a trained Bosley hair restoration specialist. Together with a Bosley Physician, we can help you find out what’s causing your balding and what treatment solution is right for you.

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