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Turkey: The healthcare tourist hotspot for moustache transplants

Posting in Healthcare

Turkey's enjoying a roaring trade in moustache transplants these days.

Health tourism is a popular -- although not always recommended -- way to cut down on cosmetic procedure costs and get a tan at the same time. Whether you're looking for a fresh set of veneers or a breast augmentation, most procedures can be booked abroad for a fraction of the price.

It may be risky to undergo a procedure outside of your home country, but when costs are lower, many choose to take the chance. The Turkey medical sector is currently enjoying a rise in health tourists seeking facial hair transplants.

Men from the Middle East, Europe and Asia are going to Istanbul in droves for the moustache transplant procedure. Using a technique called follicle-hair extraction, hair is removed from other parts of the body and embedded along the upper lip or cheeks.

The procedure is performed under local anesthetic, takes up to five hours and costs approximately $5000. To cater to those looking to beef up their beard, a number of tourism agencies are now offering packages that offer the procedure, shopping vacations and beach resorts.

Most patients are foreign; 100,000 people traveled to Turkey in 2012 for plastic surgery -- although there is no specific procedure breakdown. However, for Turkey's economy, the $1bn in revenue health tourism provides is only being boosted by more unusual cosmetic procedures being offered.

As surgeon Dr. Tulunay notes, changing ideas over masculinity may be contributing to the rise in moustache transplants. "The moustache is making a comeback. If a man's moustache doesn't grow, he wants to know he can have one as a mark of masculinity," Tulunay says. "Our customers know that if they pay, we can deliver the results."

Read More: Bloomberg

Image credit: Kevin Botto

— By on May 7, 2013, 9:37 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure