DUBAI // A craze for moustache implants is sweeping the UAE among men who feel fuller facial hair boosts their confidence.
Arabian Gulf residents have the procedure in Turkey, which has established itself as a leader in the hair implant industry.
Each month about 50 men seek the help of Dr Selahattin Tulunay, a Turkish plastic surgeon, to boost the brush of their moustache.
"Looking better and feeling more confident are the main reasons for that," Dr Tulunay said. "Most clients are from the UAE and Arabian Peninsula as well as [other] Arabian Gulf countries."
Patients from the region make up about 50 per cent of his overseas business. Most are businessmen, but Dr Tulunay said some politicians also undergo the procedure to improve their image.
Some patients take him pictures of their ideal moustache.
The average cost of the procedure is up to €4,000 (Dh18,900).
An executive director from India had an implant in Dubai about 18 months ago.
"I always wanted to have a beard. It is attractive," said the businessman, 42. "I also wanted to have a beard when carrying out the Haj for Islamic reasons. Going to Haj with a beard is a dream come true."
He tried several types of medication before seeing an online advertisement for facial hair implants.
"I knew you could have hair implants but did not know a moustache was possible," he said.
He paid about Dh9,000 for the procedure and said he was happy with the result. His facial hair has increased by about 40 per cent.
"My wife says I look better although she does not know I have had an implant," he said. "I thought she would notice and ask me about the change, but she only thought I have let my beard grow."
Dr Riad Roomi, a specialist plastic and hair restoration surgeon at the You New Plastic Surgery Clinic, which is affiliated with Vinci Hair Clinic, said moustache implants were not common at his clinic in Dubai.
"There is an average of one patient every month or two," he said.
His clients are mainly Emiratis, Saudis and Indians. Many want a beard implant.
But Dr Roomi said patients who wanted his help had little or no facial hair because of genetic or hormonal problems.
"Nobody comes in with a normal moustache and wants to add on," Dr Roomi said.
The cost for a moustache implant in Dubai is about Dh7,000, and up to Dh20,000 for a beard implant.
Dr Roomi said moustaches were still a sign of masculinity, especially among Arabs. He recalled the case of a young Egyptian man from a rural area who sought an implant.
"He had left his home village and came to work in Saudi, as he could no longer live with the pressure of not having a moustache."