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    Default To Turkey! 3200 grafts with Dr. Ekrem Civas - review

    I'm a single, 32-year-old American. Norwood 5/6. 3200 grafts (this cost me 3700 EUR; he seems to give discounts based on the season of the year.)

    I will update this review periodically over the coming year, so unless I'm hit by a truck, expect constant updates and feedback here. I'm doing this as a service to my fellow baldies out there, because I was (and still am) in the same boat as you!

    As far as my satisfaction with the doctor, team, and procedure itself - 5 stars. Read on for more details.

    I've wanted my hair back for years now. I started losing my hair in my mid-20's, and it seems to have stopped around 29. In the past, I've tried Rogaine, Lipogaine, and laser combs with no success (I had sexual side effects from the Rogaine/Lipogaine, sadly. Unlucky.)

    I learned about Turkey and hair transplants a few years ago via a magazine, and this year I finally decided to just go for it.

    My intent with this review is to give a solid, informative walkthrough from start to finish, and answer as many questions as possible. I am going to update this review over the course of the next year as my hair (hopefully) grows. I learned a lot from some of the better reviews on this site (and others), and I want to contribute. (I'm also posting this on at least one other site.)

    This will be lengthy. I am going to give you an extreme info dump. That's the kind of person I am. More is better than less. Deal with it

    I'll start off by saying that even in Turkey, to some extent, you are probably going to get what you pay for. There are places (and some prominent Turkish doctors on some sites) that charge around 1800-2000 USD/EUR. These places all run 3 people through surgery a day. Ask them yourselves.

    Is that a bad thing? It depends on what you want. The doctors will always draw your hairline and be part of the process in some fashion, but no matter where you go, the doctor will not be doing most of the surgery. This will always be done by techs. You want to make sure you get highly trained, experienced, and well-rested techs. Will you get these at a cheap "hair mill"? Maybe. Maybe not.

    I chose Dr. Ekrem Civas after a lot of research. I was looking for a hair surgeon that was cheaper than Western prices (which are typically around 10-12k), but could ensure high quality and a high success rate, and had good qualifications. Some things that caught my eye about Dr. Civas:

    - Fellow of the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery (ABHRS) (Search "Ankara" for city on their website. I think there's maybe 2 other Turkish doctors that are fellows of the ABHRS; they are in Istanbul. Civas, by the way, was the first Turkish hair surgeon to get on board with them.)

    - Fellow of the ISHRS (International version of the above.) Guess what, dudes and dudettes: some doctors are associate members, and some are fellows. Some doctors write papers and books, and give multiple speeches at these things. Others just join on and hope it gets them more business. Look up Civas on the ISHRS website, then look up some of the hair mill doctors on this site on there. Check their status, what they've done, what they've written. Research your choices.

    - Other groups, alliances, boards he is on (you can google these as you'd like): IAHRS (International), ESHRS (Europe), the Asian variant. He's on the US Embassy in Turkey's website for doctors / medical assistance. Do your homework, boys and girls.

    - His tech team is very experienced. 16-20 years of experience. He's been doing this for decades, by the way.

    - He only sees 1 patient/day. <--- This is important for me.

    Yes, Dr. Civas is over twice as expensive as the "bottom line" cheapo Turkish doctors. He's also more than 50% cheaper than practically any US doctor. I care about myself and my results, and I'm not filthy rich. Dr. Civas seemed like the perfect doctor for me. (He's probably more qualified than a lot of these US docs charging 10-12 grand, honestly.)

    Alright, so I had never been to Europe before, embarrassingly enough.Tip: US Citizens need a visa to get into Turkey (in addition to your passport.) You can buy this for $30 USD as soon as you get off the plane. They don't take cards. Bring some cash with you, so you don't have to do the escorted walk-of-shame to an ATM like I did.

    The driver picked me up right outside the terminal. Very quiet guy, but efficient driver.

    I was greeted at the hotel by a friendly staff. The main guy there spoke great English. He hooked me up with a electrical converter from US to European standards so I could charge my phone (whew, thankfully.) The air conditioning was turned off in the hotel since it was like 70 degrees in Turkey for the duration of my trip (early June.) I wasn't happy about this since I generate a lot of heat, but I kept the balcony door open and it wasn't too bad.

    Hey, Americans: Turkey is nothing to be afraid of. I walked all over Ankara during my trip, even at night. This place is far more progressive than most Arabian countries. Girls walk their dogs alone, people smoke and drink, couples hold hands and grab each other's asses. I walked around in a t-shirt, cargo shorts, and flip flops like a homeless person, and nobody gave me a second look. The food was incredible, the people were friendly, even before they realized I was American. Turn off FOX News and enjoy your world

    I got there on a Saturday and walked to the clinic a few hours after I arrived. I was greeted by Patricia, Dr. Civas's awesome assistant from Kenya. She is super cool, and you will talk to her a lot if you end up going here. I used WhatsApp to converse with her in real-time during (and after) my journey. She speaks like half a dozen languages and is super cool. We chatted about politics, and she gave me initial instructions for Monday.

    Throughout my trip, I basically just used Google maps to find nearby restaurants, and would either walk to them or use a taxi. There are taxis EVERYWHERE in Ankara. I had no issues getting anywhere I wanted to go.

    On Monday, I came into the clinic at 8:15 AM and had photos taken, followed by having my head shaved. (I grew my hair out, hoping Dr. Civas would see it and learn about my hair style, but he never got to see it. I guess they don't need to see it.)

    I met the doctor and we talked for a bit. This guy is very warm, calm, and humanistic. Direct eye contact. He thoughtfully answered all my questions (I had a lot of them.) He spoke very good English.

    They gave me (what I assume) was a valium and an antibiotic, then lead me downstairs to the FUE surgery room. It was about as spacious as you'd expect a good surgery room to be, with a standard surgical bed, equipment, etc. Dr. Civas started to draw my hairline on my scalp.

    He gave me a widow's peak, which immediately told me he knew what he was doing. I had a widow's peak my entire life, but that should not have been evident since I had balded and lost my hairline. After doing my initial hairline, I asked him if he could take it lower. I expected objections from him, but he just simply agreed, wiped it away, and took it a bit lower. I also asked if he could fill in my temples more. He did so in a way that was realistic and natural, and curved them in. He explained that the good grafts (the ones that contain 2-3 hairs) will be used for the front hairline, and the rest will be used for the crown / back. I will probably still be a bit bald in the back / on top, but I'm fine with that. I can always get more surgery, if I even care at that point. The hairline is the most important thing, right?

    Dr. Civas values realistic, natural hairlines. I knew that before I got there. I think some of the cheaper or less-experienced doctors will give very robotic-looking hairlines. Dr. Civas puts in some imperfections for a natural look, but I don't think he goes over-the-top with it either.

    After I was satisfied with the hairline, he started the local anesthesia injections. People claim these are horrible... they're really not that bad. It's a needle in your scalp. Yeah, it hurt compared to real pain, it's nothing. Grab the chair and squeeze if you need to. I did.

    I took a LOT of anesthesia. I'm a big guy. I'm 5'10, I'm a gym lifter, and I'm kind of obese, too. I'm a huge mass of muscle and fat. The doctor gave me all the anesthesia he could allow for, but there was a small spot on my scalp that just could not be made 100% numb! It was not their fault, trust me. Yes, guys and gals, I felt them extracting the grafts from this area. It was partially numbed, and it really wasn't bad at all. He apologized and asked if I could manage, and I did.

    After that, the techs performed saline injections to expand the scalp. More on this later.

    I didn't sleep through the extraction process. It was mostly performed by 3 techs: one using the machine to open my grafts or whatever, one to extract them, and one was sorting / counting / saving them. There was a TV with Turkish soap operas on for them to watch, but I don't think the two working on my head watched it very much (I watched them occasionally in my peripheral vision.) They were mostly quiet and focused on their work. I was mostly on my left side, eventually moving to my stomach and my right side. All in all, this part took a few hours. Every 20-30 minutes or so, he walked in to observe and ask if I needed to change positions, use the bathrooms, etc. I felt very taken care of. The techs were also very friendly and let me moved when I needed to.

    I shifted once and the techs asked me not to move. Whoops.

    Afterward, a light homemade lunch. Delicious Turkish rice and some chicken.

    After that, the implantation! The doctor did the next part, which he explained was the most important: implanting / designing the hairline. He sat there and implanted my hairline for a while. Afterward, the techs came in and started the exhaustive implantation process. Two techs did this simultaneously. They changed the TV to something in English for me, but I fell asleep pretty quickly (thankfully.) When I woke up, the doctor came in and said we had about 30 minutes left. Before I knew it, we were done! Overall, surgery took 8-9 hours.

    The doctor helped my stand up, and they bandaged my recipient area and gave me a baseball cap and instructions. They offered me a taxi home, but I opted to walk (it's a 5-minute walk and I enjoy it.)

    They sent me a lamb dinner to my hotel room! It was delicious.

    The next day, I went in around 10 AM for washing and follow-up. Patricia joined me as a tech gently washed my scalp and taught me how to do it. They took more pictures (I need to get these and post them on here.) Then I met with Dr. Civas again. He gave me several sheets with instructions and explained it all thoroughly. He also answered all my new questions.

    One of my major questions and stressors was: why is my hairline so high? I thought we had taken it lower! This worried me the entire night before my follow up. Well, he explained the obvious: the 100cc saline was still swelling my head, which is why my head looked like a watermelon. (That explains a lot of the post-surgery pics I had seen on review sites. Derp.) It will take 10 days for that to fully dissipate. Whew. (As I write this review 6 days later, I can confirm my head is indeed shrinking and the hairline looks way better.)

    They gave me paracetamol (Tylenol), antibiotics, saline mist spray bottle (he gave me an extra one when I asked), Thiocilline (Neosporin), Sebamed baby shampoo, and some pimple cream. He also recommended some local restaurants, which were great.

    I didn't have check-in luggage (I literally went there with a carry-on backpack.) Turkish security confiscated my Sebamed baby shampoo (I knew they would take something), but left everything else, thankfully. I ordered some online from Amazon, rush-delivery, to my house. I kept the saline mister in my cargo shorts pocket and sprayed my scalp throughout the flight, in the bathroom. I kept my cap on most of the time so I didn't frighten young children

    I was even approached by an awesome guy and his wife in the airport, who inquired about my surgery! It felt really good to talk to another person that was thinking about getting the same surgery.

    All in all, Dr. Civas and his team were amazing! Turkey was a great experience, and now I'm ready to see the results!

    Here's what I'm doing now, 6 days in:

    I've been sleeping with my head upright using a travel pillow since the operation. I'm going to use this for at least 10 days. You obviously need to be careful with the grafts post-surgery, as they can get knocked out and then you've permanently lost it. I have had this happen 3 times since the surgery, usually due to accidental touching or unconscious gentle scratching, fortunately all in non-critical areas. (I don't -think- I've done any damage, as I read that grafts being lost will always result in bleeding, which I didn't have, but I could be wrong.)

    Starting day 2 or 3, there was some pretty bad throbbing, especially on the donor area. Tylenol and saline spray helps. As of right now, I don't have any issues. I'm spraying like a madman. It feels great.

    I also bought some Vitamin E Oil at Vitamin Shoppe, after reading some hair surgeons talk about it. It may help with pain and healing of the donor area. I've been applying it every morning, once per day. I haven't applied it to the recipient area.

    The doctor recommends using olive oil, or some kind of good oil, around 8 days and letting it sit for an hour, to help get the scabs off. I plan to use coconut oil, and I plan to be very delicate and apathetic about this process. I work from home and would rather lose scabs slowly, then risk pulling out a graft to get rid of a scab.

    I'm using a friggin' plant waterer in the bathtub to wash my hair and grafts. I'm being more delicate than I need to, but better safe than sorry.

    I ran out of saline spray. I bought some H2Ocean and like it a lot more. It even has more stuff in it (lycozyme, minerals.) Get some of this. It helps with healing and soothes the itching.

    That's about it! Let me know if you have any questions, or can give me any tips. I'll keep this updated with pics and info. Good luck and choose wisely!
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    Last edited by retroman; 06-18-2017 at 04:59 PM. Reason: Forget to add the price

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