M.E. Adventure - Part 1: Hair Tomorrow?

We just returned from a quick trip to the Middle East (M.E.) to visit family. While our main reason for going to that part of the world was this little guy:
And his mom and dad, of course!

 We also encountered many interesting things getting there. Today I am going to share with you Part 1 of our M.E. Adventure: the Istanbul, Turkey airport.

You may be thinking, why would you want to blog about a few hours spent in an airport? Well, we encountered a phenomenon that was surprising and quite honestly, horrifying to witness.

We had a 3 hour layover in Istanbul. While hanging out in the food court eating our chicken nuggets from Burger King (one of the MANY U.S. restaurant chains in the airport and not the most horrifying part of our time spent there) we noticed multiple men with black headbands circling their bald heads.

As time went on, more and more of these men passed our table or sat near us. Upon closer inspection we realized that the men's scalps were bright red and raw looking. After witnessing so many men with the same painful looking head tourniqueted by a black headband, we wondered what was up.

Painful noggin'.
Were they part of a religious sect or cult? They didn't dress in a certain manner and they were traveling with presumably wives/girlfriends, other men with similar wounds on their heads and some with healthy heads, or alone.

Curiosity got the best of me and I did a little google searching. It turns out that Turkey is THE destination for medical tourists seeking hair transplant surgeries! Despite general tourism being on the decline due to unrest in the region, transplant tourism is booming. 150-500 transplants per WEEK booming!

The clinics set up travel/accommodations/surgery packages that draw men from all over the world. And because the competition is so great, the prices are comparatively low, but the quality can be questionable.

From a Quartz online article about the industry:
"Hair transplants are an exacting and expensive operation where a doctor or technician makes thousands of small incisions at the front of the scalp, then takes hair follicles from the back of the head and inserts them into those incisions in the front. When it works, it results in new hair growth and is one of the only methods to combat baldness. When an operation is botched, the hair will grow in an unnatural direction and there’s a high risk for skin infection and scarring."

As an interesting juxtaposition to the red, raw open-wounded heads were the many, many travelers using face masks. Traveling at the height of the media saturation on the Coronavirus was a bit disconcerting even though we were not going to or coming from China. It was really interesting to see so many people in the Istanbul airport wearing the face masks while traveling along side so many men with open sores on their heads.

Today's poem is for the follicle-y challenged folks who opt for a little intervention up top:

hair scant?
hope to have
©2020, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Read more about our Middle East Adventures in M.E. Part 2: Yabba Dabba Doo