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Sat Nov 01 07:28:25 SAST 2014

Moustache hunters travel to Turkey for facial hair implants

AFP Relaxnews | 06 January, 2013 11:26
Hans-Peter Weis of Pforzheim, Germany wins the Gold Medal in the Full Beard Freestyle competition at the Beard Team USA National Beard and Moustache Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada in this November 11, 2012. File photo
Image by: HANDOUT / REUTERS

Facial hair implants are causing a boom in cosmetic surgery tourism in Turkey as men head to the country for the procedure, mainly from the Middle East.

According to the Guardian, up to 50 intrepid Arab tourists arrive in Istanbul every day to undergo the procedure. Moustaches are seen as a sign of virility and seniority in many Middle Eastern countries, and visitors are arriving in Turkey in droves for procedures designed to provide thick and impressive hair on their upper lips.

The surgery is performed under local anesthetic, with doctors taking hair follicles from more hirsute areas of the body and implanting them in the face. Costing anywhere up to $7 000, the procedure has seen a spike in popularity in patients from the Middle East.

In fact the job has become bread and butter work for Turkish cosmetic surgeon Dr. Selahattin Tulunay, based in the fashionable Nisantasi district, the so-called Beverly Hills of Istanbul, and who performs up to 60 follicular transplants a month.

"For some men who look young and junior, they think (a moustache) is a must to look senior...more professional and wise. They think it is prestigious," he told CNN.

Some companies are offering travel packages worth around $2 300 to tourists who often stay for around four days in the country to recover from the procedure and sight-see. Another surgeon, Dr. Ali Mezdegi, estimates that around 75% of his clients come from the Middle East, according to the Guardian.   

In fact, Turkey's tourism is increasingly popular with visiting Arabs who formerly vacationed in Tunisia and Egypt but have been drawn to the Eurasian country due to its security since the Arab Spring (according to some figures tourist flow from Egypt to Turkey increased by 400% in 2011).

Despite nearly two years of violence in neighboring Syria, Turkey's tourist numbers were expected to remain stable at around 30 million visitors for 2012, as reported by Reuters.

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