Tom Selleck and Borat, eat your hairy hearts out. More and more men in the Middle East are sporting bigger, fuller mustaches, thanks to the latest trend in medical procedures: mustache transplants. Thick mustaches are valued in Middle Eastern cultures as a sign of masculinity, maturity, stateliness, wisdom and virility, so men who feel their lip foliage is too thin, wispy and otherwise not up to snuff are increasingly resorting to having hair taken from other parts of their body (use your imagination as to which ones) and surgically implanted above the lip — a process known as “follicular unit extraction.”
Turkey has become the mecca of facial follicle transplants, with some plastic surgeons there performing as many as 60 such procedures a month. Most of the patients reportedly come from other parts of the Middle East — such as the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon — spending upwards of $5,000 beef up their ‘staches as part of a booming Turkish “medical tourism” industry that has seen the number of people visiting Turkey specifically for surgical procedures jump from 156,000 in 2011 to 270,000 in 2012. (Ironically, a recent study showed that the percentage of Turkish men sporting mustaches actually dropped from 77% in 1993 to 34% in 2011.)
As with any fashionable surgery, however, there are unscrupulous people willing to take advantage of desperate patients by providing services without being qualified to do so. A rash of botched transplants has led the Turkish health ministry to shut down many unlicensed clinics and impose unspecified fines.
When performed properly, the medical procedure uses local anesthesia and can take up to five hours to complete. Transplant recipients generally are to refrain from washing the newly located hair for a day and cannot shave for about two weeks. It can take six months or more for the full results of the process to take shape, so patients must have, well, patience when it comes to their mega mustaches.
(Sources: CNN, Wall Street Journal)