A thick, robust mustache has long been seen as a sign of virility in the Middle East, and more and more less-endowed men are looking to science to fill in what God, or genetics, didn’t.

Mustache implants, a plastic surgery procedure that transfers hair follicles from elsewhere on the body to the upper lip, have been growing in popularity in the region, CNN reported on Thursday.

A Turkish plastic surgeon said he performs 50-60 mustache implants a month, mostly for patients who travel from other Middle Eastern countries. He said his patients, many of whom are young men, want to look “professional and wise.”

The procedure costs about $7,000, according to a Paris-based surgeon, who said he has performed increasing numbers of mustache implants over the past five years. Most of his clients are between 30 and 50 and often want to imitate the look of celebrities, especially Turkish singer Ibrahim Tatlises, famous for his prodigious whiskers.

Famed Turkish singer and media personality Ibrahim Tatlises is of mixed Arab and Kurdish descent (photo credit: CC BY Tacirciu/Wikipedia)

Famed Turkish singer and media personality Ibrahim Tatlises is of mixed Arab and Kurdish descent (photo credit: CC BY Tacirciu/Wikipedia)

Several experts assured CNN that the mustache holds a position of honor in the Middle Eastern masculine mystique, at least since the days of the Ottomans.

According to the report, Joel Barlow, US consul to Algiers in 1795, found that growing a mustache “proved useful in his work.” Presumably, he didn’t spent $7,000 to grow his crumb catcher, which he said, in a letter to his wife, gave him the “air of a tiger.”