ISTANBUL, Turkey, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- A Turkish plastic surgeon says he's keeping busy performing mustache implants on men wanting to project virility, wisdom and maturity.
Dr. Selahattin Tulunay told CNN he's doing 50 to 60 of the procedures each month, using a technique called follicular unit extraction in which clumps of hair are transplanted from other parts of the body under local anesthetic. Most of his patients are medical tourists from the Middle East between the ages of 30 and 50 who pay about $7,000 each, the U.S. broadcaster reported Thursday.
"For some men who look young and junior, they think [a mustache] is a must to look senior ... more professional and wise," he said. "They think it is prestigious."
Saudi Arabian journalist Andrew Hammond says the mustache has deep roots in Arab culture.
"Having a mustache was always a big thing, ever since the Ottoman time," he said. "Most Arab leaders have mustaches or some form of facial hair. I think culturally it suggests masculinity, wisdom and experience."
Christa Salamandra, an associate professor of anthropology at City University of New York, says the mustache conveys "high social status" in the Arab world where men have even used them as collateral for loans and have had them shaved off as punishment.