The specialist cosmetic surgery clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches LLP takes a look this week at the increasing popularity in moustache and beard transplants. The innovative treatment is proving particularly popular with men from the Arab world, where moustaches, in particular, are perceived to convey wisdom and maturity. Men are apparently flocking to Istanbul, Turkey, to have moustache implants so that their upper lips look manly rather than boyish.

The surge in interest in this type of surgery probably stems from cultures where a well-formed moustache or beard is regarded as a sign of manliness and power and a man without facial hair is deemed less attractive. It is also an option for people undergoing transgender assignment therapy.

The intricate procedure involves the surgeon taking a clump of hairs from areas of more dense growth before implanting them in the moustache or beard area. The procedure is, therefore, essentially a form of hair transplant. The surgery uses a technique called "follicular unit extraction" (FUT), made famous by Wayne Rooney's hairline treatment, which involves removing a strip of hair at the back of the scalp to be implanted in the upper lip or cheek.

Scarring can result at both the donor and recipient sites. However, if the surgical procedure is performed correctly with clean and fine incisions and the grafts from which the skin at the hair base was removed are placed carefully, scarring can be kept to a minimum. It should then be almost impossible to distinguish the grafts from the original hairs. One disadvantage of the procedure is that the surface of the donor zone must be shaved clean to extract the follicles. The hair transplant will therefore be visible for a number of weeks. Furthermore, the follicle from the donor site will never grow back as the hair transplant process always permanently redistributes the follicles.