Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Mustache Donor

There are many elective medical procedures that I do not understand (cosmetic nipple removal comes to mind) but one of the strangest has taken hold in the Middle East: mustache transplantation. One Turkish surgeon, who claims to perform 50-60 of these a month, says that the majority of his clients are unhappy with their anemic facial hair and wish to project more masculinity. Many of the clients are politicians who believe that a thicker mustache will assist them in appealing to voters.

The procedure, which costs around $7,000, uses a technique called follicular unit extraction to remove hair from a “donor site” and implant it on the patient’s top lip. They cannot shave for several weeks and it generally takes about six months to see the full results. Once enough time has passed, practitioners insist that the relocated hair is indistinguishable from cookie-duster natives. The trend appears to be growing and is now being performed in France as well.
I am privileged to have a mustachioed co-worker who takes great pride in his soup-strainer and is even a member of the American Mustache Association (AMA). While I admire his dedication, I am not willing to separate myself from $7,000 in order to replicate it. Genetically speaking, I am predisposed to an asymmetrical “dirty stache” which does nothing to enhance my masculinity. Fortunately, my wife is not a fan of facial hair (or masculinity) so we are perfectly suited for one another.

My main concern would be the surgeon’s ambiguity concerning the “donor site.” If the hair was harvested from the patient’s scalp I can only assume they would have revealed that in the article. This leaves precious few other areas from which to deport the needed man-fur and given the coarse nature of male facial hair I fear the entire discussion would go south very quickly. Is there a contingency plan if the newly-created mustache begins to curl uncontrollably?

While Americans also associate facial hair with masculinity, some social scientists have argued that a clean-shaven political candidate in America has a better shot than their fuzzy counterparts because people associate facial hair with deception. This is ironic given Abraham Lincoln’s reputation and the fact that we have elected several mustachioed presidents. Furthermore, Chester Arthur rocked the mutton chops and rumor has it that Harry Truman sported a short-lived goatee while relaxing in Key West in 1948.

The real breakthrough will come when they can fully transplant someone else’s facial hair onto your body. If God didn’t see fit to put attractive hair on your face, chances are there is nothing better hiding behind the curtains. In cases such as this, the person could walk into the surgeon’s office and ask for the “Chuck Norris” or the “Sam Elliott” confident that they were receiving the finest in facial accoutrements. The patient could even be given large doses of testosterone and un-tenderized beef to prevent post-operative rejection.   

Like most things men do, this craze is probably related to money, power, or potential mates. I just do not see how spending money to relocate a half-acre of back-hair to your lip makes you electable or dateable. I imagine that there are several attributes women (and voters) find more attractive than a fauxstauche and I'll bet the ability to wisely spend $7,000 is one of them.

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