As most hair transplants qualify as elective surgery, patients tend to not only look at the quality of the doctor, but the cost involved. Consumers are always price conscious and without the health care providers (insurance companies) footing the bill, the market economy comes into play. Hair transplants can be quite expensive and the cost from one country to the other can be significant. With this in mind, price conscious consumers will shop around.
Is the price difference significant?
Yes, there is a vast difference in the cost of the transplants from various countries, although the United States is close to being the costliest. On the high end, savings can be as much as 75% less than procedures in the US. From Europe to Asia and the Middle East, the hair transplant business is spreading and there are many options with regards to price and quality of care. The difference in prices compared to the US enable a patient to fly to another country for the surgery, stay there for a week and still save a significant amount of money.
Can I get the same quality of care abroad?
Yes, you can, although as with any medical procedure, the quality spans the spectrum from bad to excellent. I guess the million-dollar question is how to balance the cost with the quality of care while receiving the best of both.
Most countries that provide hair transplant procedure for medical tourists offer the same modern techniques which are used in the US. Although the techniques are comparable, the standards vary and there are questions which must be answered before you make your final decision. Those who are accustomed to the high-quality care they receive in the US, might be a bit shocked at the level of care which is considered standard in other countries.
If you have performed your due diligence for hair transplant surgery in the US and have narrowed it down to a specific clinic, you might want to consider hair clinics abroad for comparison.
Important factors to consider when going abroad for surgery
- Costs Associated with Surgery Abroad
As the main factor for choosing medical procedures abroad, chances are that most procedures will be less expensive abroad than in the US. In some instances, its considerably less expensive and others not so much so. When having any medical procedure abroad, you must consider the other costs incurred such as airfare, hotel, food and other ancillary costs. Also, if you are not a seasoned traveler, there are other costs associated with going to another country and culture.
- Certification/Regulatory Board
There are a few issues which must be addressed with regards to the certification process and regulations for a country’s medical industry. You must first ask what the certification process entails for both the hospital/clinic and surgeon. “Certified” only proves that the hospital and surgeon are approved by the specified standards of that country. The standards could fall way short of what you are used to in the US and other Western countries. Anything from the sterilization of instruments to the post-op care can have a huge effect on the outcome of your surgery.
Although the certification and regulations are up to US standards, then the next question is how well they are enforced? If there is a climate of corruption and payoffs, then all the rules, laws and certifications are meaningless.
- Modern Techniques
If you have already established what procedure you would like to have in the US, chances are that there are many other countries that provide the same procedure. Whether the Safe System, Neo Graft or other techniques using the FUE methods, you will have many choices for going abroad. Of course, all the equipment and techniques are only as good as the surgeon and his training and experience.
- Other Costs and Issues
If the cost of the surgery and all the other travel expenses are considerably less than in the US, then going abroad is an option. As mentioned above, on top of the financial cost, one must take into consideration going to a foreign country, which is unlike the US, and where English is a prized commodity. Obviously in Europe this is not a real problem, but when travelling to the Middle East or Southeast Asia, there are language issues which can occur. Other issues have to do with culture, and although not better or worse than the US, it’s the unfamiliarity which can cause problems.
Other large issues associated with going abroad for surgery are recovery, follow-up and recourse in the case of “malpractice”. Often your post-op recovery is as important as the surgery itself. In some cases, you might need more than a day’s rest as well as no flying for a determined amount of time. If you are resting in a hotel in a foreign country, it might be difficult to get the help you require in case of emergency or just basic recovery
Associated with post-op care is follow-up. This could include one or more trips back to the surgeon for just a check-up or for some post-op care. If you had your surgery abroad, it might not be worth the cost and time of a trip back overseas, although it is essential to have a follow-up. This might require seeing a doctor in the US and having some treatment, which will of course add to the cost.
Something we don’t like to think about, but must be addressed, is the unlikely event of complications due to the surgery. In some cases, the complications might need minimal treatment or a stay in the hospital. These complications could not only affect your health for the rest of your life, but could be life threatening. Unfortunately, your recourse in trying to receive compensation for your extra surgery or for damages will be more time consuming and less successful then in the US.
Is there a quick answer to having surgery abroad or in the US?
The quick answer is NO! As stated above, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration when deciding on having a surgical procedure abroad and there are a few essential issues other than the cost that you must address. But the one which I cannot emphasize the most is the quality of care. Hair transplants are considered surgery, and with any surgery comes risk. The best way to minimize risk is to use a certified hair transplant surgeon, in a country with high standards, and a doctor/clinic with an unblemished reputation and record.
With the Internet, all the tools you need for due diligence are right in front of you. Any information you need is one click away, and if there is no information for a doctor/clinic, you should walk away and find another. We have all heard of the horror stories of “fake” doctors performing Botox and ruining the lives of their patients. This can occur with hair transplants as well and you must always proceed with caution and lots of questions.
Whatever your decision on where to have a hair transplant procedure, be sure that you are working with highly trained, certified and capable people. One recommendation is Budapest, Hungary that excells in hair transplantation.