Aesthetic treatments in Turkey heal pandemic's mental wounds
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By Zeynep Cermen
A physician removed a bandage with exceptional care to reveal his patient's tiny dotted red wounds and gently cleaned the dried blood.
"It hasn't even been 10 hours since the operation, but the result already looks perfect," said Servet Terziler, a hair transplant specialist at a privately owned clinic in Istanbul.
The 31-year-old Spanish citizen Alberto Bolos Sanchez also seemed satisfied with the result after the doctor showed his new hair follicles transplanted onto a bald area.
"I can clearly say that Istanbul is currently the capital city of the world in hair transplantation," Terziler told Xinhua as he continued to dress Sanchez's wounds.
He said as the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination campaign continues at a high speed in Turkey, foreigners are increasingly seeking out aesthetic surgeries in the country.
The customers come from all over the world, he said.
According to the doctor, who is also head of the Turkish Health Tourism Association, Turkey's experienced surgeons, advanced infrastructure, and health facilities equipped with high technology have recently transformed the country into a health tourism hub.
In 2019, about 1.3 million people visited Turkey within the scope of health tourism, generating nearly 3 billion U.S. dollars of revenue. Due to the pandemic, the sector saw a loss of up to 60 percent in 2020.
"I believe that aesthetic tourism will increase exponentially from now on," Terziler continued, saying the sector is aiming for a turnover of 10 billion dollars by the end of 2023.
The doctor said the demand for nose aesthetics, mammaplasty, silicone implants, and Brazilian butt lift operations are in high demand among women, while hair transplants are at the fore among men.
According to 2019 figures, up to 750,000 foreigners came to Turkey for hair transplants alone.
"Covid-19 has made us a little sad. We were forced to stay at home, became depressed. But now people started to find a way out from this gloomy mood," Terziler said.
The sector has long been working to return to boom times before the pandemic, with a significant focus on promotional activities to lure more patients from different parts of the world, China among them, according to Terziler.
Noting that Turkey and China have deep-rooted friendly relations, he said Turkish experts have been following the developments in the Chinese health sector closely.
"Our doors are wide open for them, and we are ready to serve them in the best possible way," he noted.
There are 50 full-fledged clinics and over 1,000 doctor offices where only minor procedures are carried out, such as botox treatments, in Istanbul alone.
Burak Unlu, another patient of Terziler's, flew in from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, to have a hair transplant in the city. "I've been looking to have this operation for a long time. I knew how good Turkey was in this regard," he told Xinhua at the clinic.
About 5 000 hair follicles were taken from his beard and placed in the bald area on his head.
"I want to socialize with peace of mind without worrying about my baldness anymore," Unlu said.