Pros and cons of wanting that perfect body
Sara Powell blames media for its over-emphasis on 'ideal body image'.
Dubai - As demand for aesthetic procedures continues to rise in Dubai, experts analyse what lies beneath in the strive for perfection.
A little dose of healthy narcissism never hurt anybody. In fact, it often helps garner the self-esteem we need to reach life's goals. But with rates in surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures on the rise in this region, are we breeding a generation of full-blown narcissists?
This is not an easy question to answer, but in an age where Botox and nose jobs are well within reach of societies not-so-modest earners, are the best interests of these patients being taken into account, or are the dollar signs taking centre stage?
Compared to 90s and even 00s, people nowadays are openly endorsing more narcissistic traits than ever.
Busy lifestyles lead to busy clinicsDubai - Medical tourism has become a huge area of investment for Dubai, with revenues hitting Dh1 billion of late.
One of the biggest draws for medical tourists is wellness tourism and cosmetic surgery. From surgical to nonsurgical approaches, Dubai has become the hub of the region for aesthetic procedures.
One of its latest, non-invasive approaches to body shaping is CoolSculpting by Zeltiq. Carried out at the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital (AACSH), non-invasive technology is used to freeze away stubborn fat - as much as 20 per cent in most cases.
Head of Dermatology and Anti-Aging department at AACSH, Dr Burcu Hurbas, said though these procedures are very popular among Emiratis, expatriates and medical tourists, people are taking a more careful approach towards such procedures.
What is the biggest trigger for people seeking alternative routes for body shaping/weight loss besides good diet and exercise?
With a busy and stress-filled lifestyle, many find it hard to allocate time for a well-balanced meal, or fitness session.
As a result many end up suffering from hypodynamia, slow metabolism, eating disorders and weight fluctuations.
When we stop being happy with our body, many of us turn towards dieting and weight lifting, which has a positive impact on our well-being and overall mental state. But that requires time and dedication.
With age, our metabolic level decreases and we can't expect the same fast and remarkable shaping effect from fitness. That is when aesthetic medicine comes into play.
Surgical and non-surgical approaches to improved appearance have become increasingly popular. Do you think we have bred a generation of quick fix fanatics?
Cosmetic medicine has become extremely popular nowadays, however we are seeing more and more clients demonstrating a very sensible approach towards such procedures. They have done their research about the treatment, its indications and side effects. Nowadays people are paying more attention to their health. Many choose cosmetic medicine as a final touch-up to access and eliminate those stubborn fat deposits which are unresponsive to traditional methods.
It is always a doctor's responsibility to pre-screen every patient who looks for cosmetic procedure. In cases where he/she believes the patient is not going to benefit from the treatment, they are then referred to a therapist.
What are the top three reasons for your patients wanting such procedures?
> No downtime - most of our patients have busy lifestyles and are not willing to spend more time for recovery. They want a " lunch break treatment" and we offer that.
> Safety - as a world renowned centre of excellence, AACSH is dedicated to providing selective and certified services, matching highest international quality and patient safety standards.
> Quick results - most of the non-invasive body contouring procedures require multiple sessions to see final outcome, however first positive improvements will be noticeable after the first treatment.
Do you have to identify the difference between a person with body dysmorphic disorder and someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)?
At AACSH, we have an in-house wellness clinic devoted to promoting healthy approach towards aesthetic treatments. Having a holistic life coach therapist on board to address different eating and beauty associated behavioral disorders, as well as a certified clinical dietitian for adequate nutritional counseling, makes it easier to address the patients concern in the right way.
From the ultimate tool of self-promotion: 'the selfie', to Instagram accounts full of solo shots, social media is highlighting every detail of our lives - flaws and all.
As a result of changes in many variables, including increased accessibility to cosmetic surgery, people are actively seeking to improve their appearance through surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures.
But with 'quick fixes' often taking precedence over long-term, healthy approaches to body improvements, doctors here often have to identify whether a patient is suffering from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) or narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).
Many plastic surgeons have become fairly adept at spotting a prospective patient with BDD or NPD tendencies, and at the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital in Dubai, on-site therapists have partnered with surgeons to ensure the correct path is being taken by a prospective patient.
"It is always a doctor's responsibility to pre-screen every patient who looks for cosmetic procedure. In cases where he/she believes the patient is not going to benefit from the treatment, they are then referred to a therapist," Head of Dermatology and Anti-Aging department, Dr Burcu Hurbas told Khaleej Times.
But what is the root cause that has triggered this obsession with perfection? According to Art Psychotherapist at Art Therapy International Centre Dubai, Sara Powell, technological advancements play a big part.
"In modern society we have been equipped with the necessary tools to make most jobs quicker and easier. This can be seen to translate over to one's physical appearance."
She said media often portrays the "ideal body image", however, constant bombardment of idealised body shapes and images often provide people with a distorted reality and benchmark.
"This continual bombardment engraves a specific body image into many people's minds as a determinant factor for success and beauty. Unlike before, altering one's body shape has become a simple task with little effort required. Cosmetic surgeries enable individuals to come closer to their ideal image and produce faster results than the standard diet and exercise."
This need for a quick fix may produce an immediate state of happiness, but as an impressionable society, it has lasting emotional consequences, consciously and subconsciously.
This new ease of access to what was once noted as a luxury, is slowly but surely breeding a generation of quick fix fanatics, but the downside to this could be detrimental to a person's mental health.
"Unfortunately there is typically never a quick fix. As an art psychotherapist we believe in establishing the root cause in order to provide sustained change. Many people expect one session of therapy, or to have one session at the gym or even a single weight loss operation to fix everything. Unfortunately, that is usually not the case. It takes time, understanding and work."
She said if a person's relationship toward food does not change following a surgical procedure, they run the risk of repeating these behaviours.
"In many hospitals across the world a psychiatric evaluation is warranted before certain surgical procedures are performed."
Aside from increased accessibility to the actual physical procedures, Powell said society is as much to blame for this increase in narcissistic tendencies.
"Social media can have a significant impact on distorting our perspective and perception. For the majority, beauty images are retouched, body parts are made to look thinner. This feeds in to this notion that both men and women need to look a certain way, 'perfect'." But perfection is unattainable, she said.
For Powell, many of the patients she treats often express a need to change their appearance physically in order to improve their mental state. But the reality is quite the contrary.
"There is a mind body connection which is very real. One cannot go without affecting the other. When you are happy with your body you tend to be happier emotionally and vice versa. However, if a person has a distorted sense of self such as body dysmorphia, they need to be emotionally supported in addressing this in order to develop a healthier relationship with themselves internally and externally."
So, in your constant strive for perfection, why not figure out what really lies beneath when it comes to your relationship with yourself before jumping in and simply covering over the physical cracks in your appearance.