While Lebanon has been the hub for plastic surgery in the region for the longer time, Dubai just might be stealing that title.
The emirate is actively working to become a leading international destination for medical tourism. The Dubai Health Authority is aiming to attract more than 500,000 international medical tourists by 2020.
Procedures falling under medical tourism include medical and cosmetic procedures.
This initiative is resulting, directly and indirectly, in the opening of numerous medical and cosmetic centres across the emirate, all of which offer world-class services. Cosmetic centers are especially active, turning Dubai slowly into a hub for plastic surgery in the region. Overtaking Lebanon on this front becomes even much easier, as the Levant country is currently facing its own geopolitical and economic turmoil.
One of the latest plastic surgery centres to open in Dubai is Cosmetrix, recently inaugurated by the Saudi German Hospital in Dubai.
Services at the Cosmetrix center include plastic surgery, aesthetic procedures, anti-aging procedures and dentistry, with “wellness” packages available for men and women.
At the opening, Cosmetrix proudly highlighted the list of six doctors leading procedures at the centre. Four of the doctors come from Lebanon: Dr Charbel Medawar, Dr Ibrahim Melki, Dr Paul Audi, and Dr Ibrahim Abu Abdulla.
And as for the majority of cosmetic centres in the emirate, international doctors tend to always be involved. Cosmetrix brings on board leading international surgeons Dr Francis Rogers Palmer from the United States and Dr Hugues Hennebert from France.
“My involvement is to bring the Beverley Hills mentality to Dubai… In most people’s eye, Beverley Hills remains the centre of the cosmetic surgery world, because of its association with the entertainment industry. I believe it puts us at the forefront of whatever that is new, useful and very effective,” Dr Palmer told AMEinfo at the opening of Cosmetrix.
“I plan on doing things just the way I do them in Beverley Hills, to the exacting standards of equality and aesthetics,” he added.
Dr Palmer explained that he already received patients from the Middle East in Beverley Hills. He has been a plastic and cosmetic surgeon for the past 27 years and has operated in three continents; he has previously headed the facial plastic surgery unit at the University of Southern California USC for ten years.
“We are a global society and I get patients from the Middle East in Beverley Hills; I always have. I get patients from the Far East, India and South America, and I get emails from all over the world with photos. It is amazing how the standards of beauty are so similar all over,” he said.
“There are very cultural variations between places where patients originate from, but this isn’t as extreme as you think,” he added.
Elaborating on this point, Dr Palmer said that cultural variations are quite minor, as patients from one region might want to be “more plump and have more of an hourglass shape, versus more lean.” He said this was all about adjusting the body contour, not only to fit the culture from which the patient comes, but also to fit the individual’s nature.
Men ‘in for a big awakening’
While women make up the majority in their quest to undergo plastic surgeries and cosmetic procedures, Dr Palmer said the numbers of men option for such procedures is catching up.
“Men are in for a big awakening because they all want to be what I call chiseled, angular and ruggedly handsome,” he said.
He explained the key beauty elements for men and woman by saying: “For a man’s body, the ideal look has always involved a waist with broad shoulders, to get that V-shape, with big muscles. Meanwhile, for the face, a man will look very handsome if he has a defined angularity on his cheeks, chin and jaw line.”
Meanwhile, women’s facial beauty elements were slightly different, Dr Palmer said, noting that “a woman looks very beautiful with a heart-shaped face. Yet, as women age, they start having a rectangular face, so we work on the front of the cheeks and get rid of loose skin to reshape the face and get that younger look.”
The ‘European approach’
Over the years, the Arab region has valued European beauty, which, for many, may be quite different from that of Arab beauty.
France’s Dr Hugues Hennebert said his role at Cosmetrix was “to bring the European approach and French touch to the procedures, which is a very rigorously technical yet glamorous one,” he told AMEinfo.
Dr Hennebert explained that today, short-term recovery is very important for patients, hence the refinement of the cosmetic operation is in “decreasing the size of incisions, to have better and faster recovery,” he added.
This includes more invasive procedures, like liposuction, which Dr Hennebert said was the most demanded from the Middle East region.
“Ideally, the best way to lost weight is through diet and exercise, but sometimes, even after going through diet and regular exercise, you would still get some areas with stubborn fat, so this is a good indication to go in for liposuction,” Dr Hennebert said.