More Israelis come to Turkey for hair transplants despite strained relations

Strained political relations between Turkey and Israel have not stopped Israeli men from arriving in Turkey in large numbers for hair transplant operations, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The number of Israelis visiting Turkey went up to more than 500,000 in 2019, from 200,000 in 2014, the Turkish Statistical Institute said, despite a steady cooling in relations between the two countries.

Most Israeli tourists arrive in Turkey for medical services, particularly plastic surgery and hair transplants, Anadolu said. 

Turkey offers hair transplant operations at a very competitive rate, as low as a quarter of the price in the United States and many European countries with the operation and a multi-day visit to the country still costing less than having the procedure done at home. Istanbul is one of the most popular destinations for hair transplants with tour companies offering packages, including a transplant and vacation in the country’s largest city.

Israelis choose Turkey because of its inexpensive, but quality medical services, Aviad Bitton, who runs a tour company that takes around 100 people to Turkey for hair transplant operations every month, told Anadolu.

A hair transplant cost about 8,000 euros ($8,678) in Israel, but just 2,500 euros ($2,711) in Turkey, said Itamar Torris, an Israeli lawyer who plans to go to Turkey for a hair transplant.

"Turkey has some of the best and most experienced doctors," he said.

Israel and Turkey have maintained a tumultuous relationship since Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became prime minister in 2003. Now president, Erdoğan has championed the Palestinian cause and is a vocal critic of Israeli government.