Couples now ready to go under the knife for beauty-matching
They are undergoing surgery to complement each other's looks
We've all heard of couples therapy and couples massage, but a growing craze is sweeping the Arab world. Cosmetic surgery for couples.
Known as "beauty-matching", couples are going under the knife in an effort to "complement" each other's looks.
The bold new concept may be narcissism at its best, but it's already proving big business in Beirut, and even here in the UAE.
"This practice is picking up momentum around the globe on the lines of earlier trends like 'Spa for Couples' or husbands joining their wives during delivery," Dr Abi Abboud, Head of the Department of Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery at Mount Lebanon Hospital and Founder of Dr Antoine Abi Abboud Clinic, Beirut, said.
Dr Abboud's clinic is now one of the first in the region to offer the modern-day cosmetic surgery for couples. But does the UAE offer such a service?
Yes, according to Dr Matteo Vigo, Chief Medical Officer at the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital (AACSH) in Dubai. And it's a "trend that is increasing".
"I have patients coming to me for 'couples' procedures. In my opinion, though, it is too early to open a dedicated clinic for men and women seeking such surgery," he told Khaleej Times.
Dr Vigo said he treats about two or three couples per year seeking beauty-matching surgery together.
However, a large number of couples do undergo individual face or body lifts.
"This trend is already happening here in the UAE but it is more common to see the wife coming in for treatment first. Once the husband sees his partner's results, he comes in for surgery himself. I treat about 15 to 20 couples per year for this kind of surgery," he said.
Many people who go under the knife are spurred on by their need to satisfy their own self-image, though these couples are usually doing so to satisfy their partner.
Of the few "beauty-match" couples Dr Vigo has treated, some have opted for facial rejuvenation such as face-lifts and dermal filler injections. However, body reshaping remains the most in-demand procedure.
"Facial procedures are increasing but tummy tucks and liposuction are the most popular at AACSH."
As this self-indulgent trend continues to gain momentum in the Middle East, Dr Vigo said the men in the relationship will likely opt for gynaecomastia surgery (reduction or correction of over-developed, enlarged breasts) and liposuction.
And the women, breast augmentation and liposuction.
But changes in facial appearance will likely become more sought after. "Facial rejuvenation will also factor into the types of procedures couples desire. Rhinoplasty will remain low though, as it is unlikely both partners will want to change the shape of their nose."
With about 80 per cent of AACSH patients made up of Arab nationals, Dr Vigo said Emirati nationals account for about 38 per cent of its Arab clientele.
As many as 35 per cent come from the GCC region and 27 per cent from the wider Mena region.
"I expect our clientele demographic will remain the same. Emiratis will continue to account for the majority of patients," he said.
Medical tourists flock to UAE
Cosmetic and plastic surgery has become a growing trend in the UAE, and in 2014 AACSH served 10,000 new patients - 28 per cent of which were medical tourists.
Of the patients visiting AACSH during April to June this year, 27 per cent travelled from outside the GCC and Mena regions, with 35 per cent travelling from within the Middle East.
So, as medical tourism continues to rise in the UAE, couples surgery will only add to its appeal as a medical destination hub.
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