coming to Turkey for facial hair transplants is a new and booming trend. While there are no actual statistics to support this assertion, the doctors quoted in the article say that more and more Middle Eastern men are coming here to get beard and mustache implants because in Arab countries, facial hair is a sign of masculinity and not having it is a bad thing. "Thick hair is a status symbol, and a sign of strength and virility," one doctor was quoted as saying. According to another, of his 60 hair-transplant patients a month, 10-15 now want facial hair.
This actually doesn't surprise me in the least, for two reasons. First, Istanbul is already a hotspot for lower-cost medical treatments. And second, you walk around Istanbul long enough, you see packs of Middle Eastern guys walking around fresh off their head-hair transplants. They almost always have a white bandage secured around their head with a black headband, but it's usually not enough to hide the bloody implantation areas. The first time I saw some of these guys, in Ortakoy, I thought they'd been in a car accident, seriously. I completely understand why they're walking around -- they come here on an arranged trip through a travel agency, and they're not ill -- but my god if the sight of bloodied scalps doesn't put you off your lunch. I sincerely applaud the guy in this photo for wearing a hat.