Surgery offers chance at perfect moustache

  • Breaking
  • 05/12/2012

The international month-long moustache growing charity event “Movember” has finished for another year. After starting with 30 participants in Australia in 2003, the campaign saw over 850,000 people from more than 20 countries take part in 2011 – the last year for which data is available – raising more than $150 million for a range of men’s health issues.

Movember exists to raise funds and awareness for these issues, but naturally the moustache itself has had its profile boosted by the event.

It’s not that no-one was wearing a moustache in New Zealand in the years before the turn of the century, but the Movember campaign relies to some extent on the novelty of the moustache for its appeal.

In some parts of the world, however, the moustache has remained a near-essential feature of the adult male population throughout the years in which it waned in everyday popularity in New Zealand.

So much so that increasing numbers of men, in the Middle East at least, seem prepared to undergo surgery in the hopes of attaining a better moustache.

Moustaches of importance

CNN reports that plastic surgeons in places like Istanbul and Paris are operating on medical tourists from the Middle East who are prepared to pay for a fuller, stronger moustache.

Turkish surgeon Selahattin Tulunay told CNN he operates on 50-60 such men each month. The moustache has long held importance as an indication of masculinity and social status in the Middle East and the Arab world, and Dr Tulunay says his patients are after a more dignified appearance.

"For some men who look young and junior, they think [a moustache] is a must to look senior [...] more professional and wise," he said. "They think it is prestigious."

Both the surgeons named in CNN’s report offer the same surgical procedure – follicular unit extraction (FUE) – to remove individual hairs from elsewhere on the patient’s head before implanting them where they are needed.

Moustache renovation in New Zealand

A New Zealand doctor who offers FUE for more conventional complaints says that while the so-called ‘moustache transplant’ is possible, it’s not something he’s heard of a client asking for.

“I’ve never heard of anyone asking for us to actually create facial hair,” says Dr Dirk Venter of Henderson Medical Centre.

He says that in men who are already balding, there’s a limited supply of donor hair that can be transplanted from areas of dense growth to the areas that are thinning. For this reason, he says he wouldn’t recommend the procedure unless it was very important to the patient.

“The difficulty with hair transplants generally is that there’s not enough donor hair you have to transplant,” he says, “So to use it on the moustache area as well – it’s not really something that I would recommend. But I suppose if it’s a cultural thing or there’s a status associated with it in certain cultures then yes.”

But while Dr Venter hasn’t used transplant techniques to improve hair in the facial area, he says the reverse procedure is comparatively common.

“Especially for eyebrows we often take, if it’s in men for example, you often take beard hair to transplant in the eyebrows.

“Usually the benefit of this technique is for people who’ve […] from scarring or whatever they’ve lost their eyebrows, or part of the eyebrow because the scar’s across there.”

And he says many people would be surprised by the possibilities of hair transplants, referring to research published in recent years on successful transplants of hairs from places including the back of the thigh.

“You’d be surprised that body hair in that area is actually nice and fine, so you can actually get a more refined hairline.”

But if you’re wondering where doctors might find a hair of suitable coarseness to implant in the moustache area, Dr Venter says there’s no need to go to extremes.

“Talking about pubic hair, that’s not something I’m aware of anyone ever having used for transplants.”

An informal survey of non-surgical hair loss clinics operating in the Auckland area found that while there are cases of clients asking for help with their facial hair, the vast majority of these relate to remedying facial hair loss as a result of alopecia, rather than clients specifically wanting to grow a better beard or moustache.

Clinics say that in some circumstances, the same kinds of treatments offered for baldness on the top of the head can be used for facial hair.

3 News

source: newshub archive