Dubai: The perfect place to stay young

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Dubai: The perfect place to stay young

Cosmetic surgery is witnessing a boom in the UAE, with men and women flocking to go under the knife for that perfect look.

By Asma Ali Zain And Nivriti Butalia

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Published: Tue 29 Apr 2014, 12:33 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 6:34 PM

It was in 2010 that a renowned plastic surgeon and reality TV star from the famous ‘Dr 90210’ show, Dr Jason Diamond, chose Dubai as his first overseas destination on public demand. Dubai — the Las Vegas of the Middle East — is that important and profitable.

‘The Barbie doesn’t exist’

Zarine (name changed), a 31-year-old Iranian real estate broker, moved to Dubai in 2006. She has undergone three cosmetic procedures. Over a strawberry milk-shake, she shares with us her feelings about cosmetic surgery, her fears and doubts while picking a surgeon, and her advice to women who would want to have it done.

When she was a teenager in Iran, Zarine knew that she wanted her nose altered — not changed — “but tweaked slightly, to be shaped just so”. Iran, she believes, “must be the capital of nose surgeries, because every girl wants a different nose, and many go ahead with surgery.”

Zarine’s journey was a long one, from when she was 17 till she was 24. “I kept reading about procedures, the science behind it, the reality. I kept doing my research for years,” she says. “I have spoken to at least 20 plastic surgeons; most of them have no manners and are not sensitive to your needs. I have gone and met 10. I was so disappointed with them, I even gave up the idea of getting surgery done for a year. But even after a year, I still wanted the nose job.

“In the UAE, I have spoken to seven different doctors. Most of their ideas are ridiculous. They don’t listen to you. They impose their views on their prospective patients, and they don’t have any post-operative care, or it’s of a very low quality. If you’re not happy with your surgery, the doctors’ attitudes are: (It is) your problem.”

Zarine’s mother was not happy when she decided to go ahead with the procedure. “She still says ... (that my) ... earlier nose was better, but now she’s accepted (it), because I am happy with ... (the) ... result.”

Her advice to women contemplating cosmetic procedures is to gather as much information as it takes to put their minds at rest, and then some more. “Read, read, read. Do your research. Ask a lot of questions. Contact people who have had surgery done, and look online for before and after pictures. And make sure the after pictures are a good year after the surgery happened, not just two three months after.”

“Looking perfect is not going to happen; the Barbie doesn’t exist.”

Zarine advises people to “meet more than one doctor, meet as many doctors and look for the one with most experience, and this is important: Specialisation in the area you want. Don’t go to a doctor known for breast augmentation for a nose job.”

Dr Toledo agrees with her and says, he “encourages questions”. “I get worried when the patient doesn’t ask any; it’s a definite red flag ... They are angels before the surgery, after it, they can become demons (if they are) unhappy with result,” he adds.

The plastic surgeon, who also practises in Beverly Hills, claims that he has treated Arab royalty. He now flies in routinely to practice at the American British Surgical and Medical Centre.

The anti-ageing business is a multi-billion dollar global industry. The Middle East continues to witness growing demand for products and services, which has attracted an increasing number of physicians to open clinics locally. “I have many people fly from the Middle East to see me, including a large number of royalties. I have taken care of patients from Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Iraq, Iran and Egypt,” he had told Khaleej Times in an earlier interview.

People want to look like pop stars, affirms a top Dubai-based plastic surgeon.

“They all want small and upturned noses like Haifa Wehbe and Nancy Ajram,” says Dr Luiz Toledo, a Brazilian plastic surgeon living in Dubai and practicing in his Jumeirah clinic since 2005. “Forty per cent of my clientele is local — 80 per cent women, 20 per cent men,” he explains. “... They know exactly what they want.”

Liposuction is most popular procedure

The concept of beauty remains the same — be it in the Arab world or the West. Liposuction is the most commonly performed procedure world over, including the UAE. “There is no difference in terms of the local people’s concept of beauty and the western concept of beauty,” reaffirms Dr Toledo.

The Cocoona Centre for Aesthetic Transformation performs 355 liposuction procedures a year on an average in Dubai. “The reason for the increase in the demand for this procedure are weight problems, fashion and trends, new technologies such as laser, ultrasonic, vaser, RFAL, results and awareness,” explains Dr Sanjay Parashar, consultant plastic surgeon at the centre.

“Yet another reason is the success stories of people who have done it and the confidence that it has given to many people.”

The procedure remains the most popular in the West too. Statistics released by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (Baaps) in 2013 recorded a 41 per cent rise in liposuction procedures. A total of 4,326 liposuction procedures were performed last year, making it the sixth most popular procedure among women and the fourth most popular among men. Liposuction was also one of the top five most performed cosmetic surgeries by American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) member surgeons in 2012. ASPS member surgeons performed 202,000 liposuction procedures in 2012.

Other procedures

According to Dr Toledo, other popular procedures include rhinoplasty (nose jobs), breast augmentation, facelifts and abdominal surgery (tummy tucks).

He says while most of his clients are local, at number two are the British, or people of British descent. The rest, he adds, is a mixture of 73 nationalities. “Bottom or butt tucks are also catching up in the race for top most desired surgery, with the famous-for-being famous Hollywood celebrity Kim Kardashian,” says Dr Toledo.

“As far as non surgical procedures go, ever since I opened up surgical operations in Dubai in 2005, there has been a 1,000 per cent increase with three to four non-surgical procedures a day,” he says. “This includes botox injections.”

According to Dr Parashar, though liposuction is mostly preferred by women, there has been a 20 per cent increase in men seeking the procedure. “The most popular lipo procedure in men is high definition tummy liposuction and chest liposuction. In women, the most popular is tummy and waist liposuction,” he explains.

“Many women suffer from genetically affected large arms or thick ankles called ‘cankles’ ... Liposuction can help reduce the size and improve the shape,” adds Dr Parasher. “Men are looking for perfect abs, reduction of male breasts (gynaecomastia) (and) buttock shaping.”

A recent beauty correction trend catching up in the UAE is facial ‘lipo-structuring’.

“The face shape changes with age and as a result of weight fluctuation. There is often fat accumulation in the jaw line (and) neck, making the lower part of face wider,” explains Dr Parasher. “The upper part of the face loses fat causing hollowing and sagging. Lipo-structuring is redistributing the facial fat using (a) technique called micro liposuction and micro fat grafting. This makes the face look more youthful.”

Plastic surgery: A permanent solution?

But do these procedures ‘cure fat’ forever? “Liposuction removes the fat cells permanently. Once fat cells are out of body, new cells are not formed. But the existing remaining cells can still store fat,” explains Dr Parashar. “Liposuction will remove long accumulated fat, but will not to prevent weight gain in the future. So exercise and healthy diet is mandatory for a consistent long term result,” he adds.

Dr Parashar says the procedures are safe as long as they are in expert hands. “Experience and training of the surgeon is the key in safety apart from health of the patient,” he adds.

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