Dubai becomes cosmetic surgery hub

Friday 21/08/2015
Dr Nic Isse, plastic surgeon, The American Surgecenter. (The American Surgecenter)

Dubai - Not so long ago, a UAE-based newspaper car­ried an article about how plastic surgeons in Dubai expected a surge in business around the festive sea­son. The reason, according to a plastic surgery consultant, could vary from a dress or suit that did not fit to a New Year’s resolution to look better.
But gone are the days when such resolutions were about diet and exercise, or even a new wardrobe. Now it is about mammoplasty, rhi­noplasty, liposuction, facelift, brow lift, tummy tuck and cheek and chin implants.
And Dubai seems to be Middle East’s favoured centre stage where such magic is performed on a regu­lar basis, with people flying in from around the world in search of a sculpted body and perfect face.
Dubai, which takes medical tour­ism prospects seriously, is evolving into the region’s hub for cosmetic surgery. “Dubai is not turning into a plastic surgery hub — it already is and has many high-standard hospi­tals,” says Dr Mendhy Khan, chair­man of the American British Surgi­cal & Medical Centre (ABSAMC).
“Dubai is a safe, accessible and perfect location for top-quality plastic surgery, attracting some of the best medical talent in the world. From a security perspective, there is nowhere in the Middle East like Dubai.”
Dubai boasts of a high concen­tration of plastic surgeons, includ­ing some of the most recognisable names in the field. ABSAMC’s Dr Jason Diamond, a Beverly Hills, Ca­lif., plastic surgeon and television personality, is among the many celebrity surgeons practising in Dubai.
Asked why he started a Dubai practice, Diamond said: “I had the vision of bringing the best America has to offer to Dubai, as I was well aware from all of my (Gulf Coop­eration Council) patients that they want the best of everything the world has to offer.”
Patients include the local and expat population of Dubai and the rest of the Middle East and Europe. While royalty, film stars, business leaders and politicians form one end of the spectrum of clientele seeking cosmetic enhancements, there are also people from other walks of life who save up for a “lunchtime” surgery that is effec­tive in terms of cost and time.
An interesting trend is that the male population in the United Arab Emirates is turning to plastic sur­gery. The Emirates Medical Asso­ciation says 47% of the number of people who had cosmetic surgery in 2014 were men, which translates to an approximate $82 million ex­penditure on various procedures, including liposuction, rhinoplasty and face lifts.
What makes even timid souls, who shy away at the thought of a hospital visit, go under the scalpel for a plastic surgery? There is no simple answer — unless one con­siders the quest for a positive self-image a simple one.
“People opt for plastic surgery for many different reasons but the most significant would be to cor­rect a problem that affects their self-esteem. It may be a genetic deformity, such a large unattractive nose or weak chin and fat neck, or an age-related issue such as sagging skin. The problem may also be an acquired one, such as a nose de­formed by an accident,” Diamond said.
“In any and all of these cases, the person in question may have a low self-esteem because of their ap­pearance and the only way to cor­rect this is to have the appropriate plastic surgery done.
“The situation is not different from that of a person who feels that they are out of shape, and goes to the gym to make themselves look better. The difference is that the only way to improve facial appear­ance is to have surgery.
Exercises will not correct these problems.”
Dr Nic Isse, plastic surgeon at the American Surgecenter in Abu Dha­bi, says recent breakthroughs and cutting edge-technologies, such as endoscopy, also trigger the popu­larity of cosmetic surgery.
“The biggest benefits (of such procedures) are reduced or no scar­ring because there will be less con­spicuous incisions and, in many cases, shorter recovery times,” Isse explained.
The average cost of plastic sur­gery is $5,000-$50,000, depending on the procedure. As such surgeries are optional, they are generally not covered by insurance. However, many clinics offer payment plans to make the costs easier for patients to deal with.
A market this lucrative cannot but attract its share of wolves. Sto­ries abound of “non-doctors” work­ing from private homes and offices, offering Botox injections and other procedures for a fraction of regular charges.
The results are at times disas­trous, with patients sometimes ending up with deformities and dis­eases. There have been instances of patients suffering life-threatening infections after liposuction, includ­ing a young Indian actor who died recently in New York.
This makes it vital that thorough research is done on the procedure and the doctor who is to perform it before a person submits to the scal­pel.
However, plastic surgery is here to stay and Dubai is where it is thriv­ing. With reports of annual spend­ing on cosmetic surgery reaching $130 million in Dubai, it is clear that considerations of cost are not likely to stem the inflow of patients who seek to better their self-image.
After all, as Khan says, “From a security perspective there is nowhere in the Middle East like Dubai.”