Turkish Airlines is now jokingly referred to as Turkish Hairlines. Why? If you haven’t been attuned to trending aesthetic procedures in the last 3-4 years, Istanbul, Türkiye, has become the world’s capital for performing hair transplants. Due to direct and affordable flights with the airline, especially from the United States – its biggest emerging market is now American men (specifically those between 25-34 years old) who are flocking to the city in droves to get this procedure done.
Este Nove is one of leading hair clinics in Istanbul – and a frontrunner with the highest brand growth rate via Google searches from 2021-2022. Nove Group (the parent company of Este Nove) co-founder Yiğit Özefe explains that the average cost for this procedure ranges from $10,000-$20,000USD in the United States. Whereas clinics like his in Türkiye are more appealing due to their enticing rates (around $3,000 -$4000USD), use of state-of-the-art technology (Este Nove also has a partnership with Harvard Medical School to propel further research and development efforts), luxe and clean medical facilities (the hospital offers the ambiance of a boutique hotel), thorough grafting procedures (that is, more follicles implanted to create a more lush yet natural appearance), bespoke all-inclusive packages (that include transportation, lodging, and even sightseeing in Istanbul), and most importantly, on-call postoperative care services.
Certainly, the rate of hair transplant procedures is increasing but on the whole, they’re still shrouded in relative secrecy – operating on an unspoken premise of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy; and as a result, the conversations surrounding them are lacking. In order to have greater societal acceptance, everyone needs to openly talk about this kind of transformative procedure without feeling insecure or ridiculed.
As a result, Este Nove is leveraging the power of social media influencers and the phenomenon of parasocial relationships to shift the conversational landscape by offering a more holistic ‘big picture’ of what the hair transplant experience is like from start to finish (and even several years afterwards). Dr. Mehmet Ziroğlu, Hair Transplant Surgeon with Este Nove adds that countless patients have told him it’s a life-changing experience (both mentally and physically) which means that they play a significant role beyond the medical realm: “we are not only their doctor but frequently their confidant, therapist, friend, and support system.” So to have influencers be an empathetic bridge where they share their stories and offer guidance has been a match made in heaven for these two entities.
Logan Ryan Lisle with 1.5 million followers on Instagram says that it was actually Este Nove’s (Instagram) account that compelled him to go with them in the first place. “When I looked at the before and after photos/ videos from their previous clients I felt comfortable enough to make the decision. I even watched some videos on their experiences saying how easy it was and how much happier they were. It seemed like the common theme was confidence – and that’s what I wanted,” he explains. Lisle got a DHI hair transplant (Direct Hair Implantation), which means that they extracted hair directly from the back of his head and inserted the follicles where he wanted.
He could have left the experience at that – private. There was no pressure to share his journey with anyone. However, he cites that the experience was so positive that he wanted to let his followers know about it – and that he was an ‘open book’ to share his thoughts and feelings. “I was excited to show people because I (as well as my friends and family) don’t know many that have gotten hair transplants… (but) I know plenty of men who are struggling with hair loss and they would come back to me weeks later asking more questions about it, so it made me feel even more comfortable to bring it up… I knew that in my head I was going to look and feel better so why not share it?,” Lisle adds. He was inspired by those who share stories of bettering themselves so he felt honored to have a platform to do the same.
Lisle’s foundational content actually centers around light-hearted sketches and ‘dad jokes’, so at first, his audience was surprised about his level of intimacy surrounding hair loss. “They seemed shocked that I would share something like this,” he explains – but his open demeanor made his audience receptive which carved out pathways for curiosity and communication, “…a lot more people showed support and said it looked good and that they were thinking about doing the same. Some have even responded saying they are going to Este Nove and asked me for advice. Nothing negative came from my audience, which allowed me to have more confidence in sharing,” he adds.
Meanwhile, Randy Lehoe and his wife Marta Mielczarska, with a combined following of over 1.2 million followers on Instagram (and 7 million on TikTok) says that it was Este Nove’s services (from start to finish, as well as their post-op care) and making them feel like everything but a patient file – that made all the difference in the world. “We found out about Este Nove through a friend and they expressed how effortless the entire process was.” And that sold them on trusting this specific clinic: “from the moment we landed, Estes Nove orchestrated every detail, including accommodation and transportation, making the process seamless. Everyone is fluent in English and also assisted us in setting up anything else we wanted to do while in the city,” he explains. These compassionate considerations is what Este Nove attests to making them a cut above the competition and what compels influencers like Lehoe to talk about the experience – making such a topic more approachable and one day, more societally commonplace.
Lehoe had 3500 hair grafts removed from the sides of his head and implanted into the top of his head, which he detailed in a vlog to his followers. He says there was very little pain after the initial procedure; however, it was followed by some discomfort for the first few nights due to a post-care requirement for him to sleep on his head in an elevated and seated position. Despite his ailments, Lehoe says that it was all worth it. He says that the experience hit him on a deeply emotional level more than anything, “I felt a profound sense of relief and happiness. It was difficult to make the decision to have this procedure and I was happy that it was finally behind me. Even a minor surgery is undoubtedly a stress-inducing experience, but other than relief, I was very excited to begin the healing process and eager for the results,” he explains. Within four months, Lehoe noted promising changes already (*Este Nove adds that it is around the nine month mark that you truly start to notice the transformation).
Lastly, Victoria and Brandon Volz, with 471,000 followers on YouTube detailed their journey three months after Brandon’s surgery in a video. Their charismatic demeanor piqued the curiosity of their followers (and they attest that some of them booked surgeries with Este Nove after watching their video). Their story resonated with so many because they come across as honest and transparent – much like your close friends sharing intimate details of a story with you. Ultimately, Victoria highlights that the biggest and most important factor was feeling safe in Este Nove’s hands, “…even after the procedure, the clinic gives you a lifetime guarantee,” Victoria adds and explains that if you ever have an issue, they’re a DM or call away.
When it comes to any aesthetic procedure, the adage that “beauty is only skin deep” is flawed: the reality is that inner and outer beauty do not operate in isolation to one another. Instead they share a symbiotic relationship – so to a certain extent – looks do matter. One’s appearance can give you the courage to venture out into the world and make it your own. Ultimately, Brandon and the aforementioned influencers are forthright with their followers, which lent reciprocal trust building and openness regarding this seemingly delicate topic. For their efforts, it is their collective hope that they can help change men’s shyness and desire to talk about it more openly with their peers and loved ones in the near future. “(We share our journeys because) the bottom line is that – hair is a big part of everyone’s identity and I cannot stress enough in saying that having a hair transplant surgery is truly a life-changing procedure which provides a boost of confidence, boost of self-esteem, and just an overall improvement of quality of life,” Brandon explains.