Is plastic surgery only for women? Not in the UAE…
With thousands of men having plastic surgery in the UAE every year, are cosmetic procedures becoming just another tool in the modern man’s grooming kit? EDGARinvestigates…Peter Iantorno January 28, 2015
In the USA, widely regarded as the cosmetic surgery capital of the world, there is one plastic surgeon for every 50,000 people. In Brazil, home of the unnaturally big backside, it's one for every 44,000. And in the UAE, a country famed for its glittering towers and sandy beaches rather than its medical pedigree, there is an astounding one cosmetic surgeon for every 18,000 people.
It's an amazing statistic, and one that would lead us to believe that the UAE is well on its way to becoming a cosmetic surgery capital of the world. But what do us men care? Isn't plastic surgery just for middle-aged women whose faces have started to droop, and flat-chested teens hell-bent on getting a job as a glamour model?
Well, no, according to figures from Emirates Medical Association, almost half (47 per cent) of all cosmetic surgery patients in the UAE last year were men, with all manner of treatments ranging from hair transplants and rhinoplasty, to liposuction and even Botox proving popular. It's big business. The same figures estimated that UAE consumers spent some AED 300 million on cosmetic surgery last year. And it's not just UAE residents having surgery here; according to the Dubai Health Authority, by 2020 the emirate is aiming to attract some half a million medical tourists per year, which could boost its economy by up to AED 2.6 billion.
So clearly cosmetic procedures are on the rise, but what kind of things are UAE men having done? We asked Dr Maurizio Viel, a cosmetic surgeon at the London Centre for Aesthetic Surgery in Dubai, and his answer is interesting to say the least...
"The most popular surgery would be the penoplasty - the lengthening and enlargement of the penis," he says. "Men in the UAE also tend to go for surgical procedures like liposuction to the abdomen, flanks and chest, and they're also keen to keep heavy lines at bay by having a bit of Botox."
As well as the obvious increases in intimate areas, Dr Viel also says that surgery can be just the kick-start a lot of men need to change their lifestyle. "Many of the men who opt for liposuction are suffering from what would be known as 'CEO belly'," he says. "Most were fairly fit in their younger years but with the pressures of increased responsibility at work, travel and business meals, this has ultimately taken time away from them hitting the gym. Oddly, after the surgery these men tend to be great patients as they start changing their lifestyles, as they're encouraged to maintain their new physique." According to Dr Viel, the split between their female and male customers is around 70-30 at present, but the percentage of men coming to him is rising all the time. He also notes that in their Dubai clinic, around 40 per cent of his male customers are Emirati, 20 per cent are from the GCC and the remaining 40 per cent are expats from the rest of the world.
In terms of age, Dr Viel says that he generally sees men between 35 and 60 in his surgery, and that they come in for a range of reasons. "Like women, men can also feel down about their looks," he says. "More and more men are turning to plastic surgery to look more youthful and compete with other men."
In terms of drawbacks, Dr Viel says that a lot of it has to do with the state of mind of the patient. "People should not think that cosmetic surgery can solve their problems," he says. "It is not a quick fix, and there should also be a realistic expectation on the results. Any cosmetic surgery done should be for yourself, never for anyone else," he adds. So, if you want to take the plunge, how much can you expect to pay, and how long will your procedure last? "That would depend on the procedure," says Dr Viel. "Botox can start at around AED 1,400 and would be repeated every three to six months, whereas a liposuction is anything from around AED 27,000 to AED 32,000, but if the patient leads a healthy lifestyle the result will last for life."
While Dr Viel is sure that men are still most keen on liposuction and penoplasty for the moment, he sees the next trend in cosmetic surgery coming in the form of stem cells. "We are the first in the Middle East to work with stem cells [which can be obtained from the patient's fat] to help rejuvenate the skin," he says. "Stem cells really are the future."
So that's the body sorted, but one area of the sector that is often overlooked is cosmetic dental work. But according to Dr Michael Apa, the internationally acclaimed New York dental aesthetic expert who has just opened his first clinic in Dubai, it's becoming increasingly popular in the region. "Most UAE men are looking to enhance their smiles," he says. "We can do that in a multitude of ways, weather that be using some kind of aligners, which are essentially braces, or we can do it with porcelain, which is most likely veneers."
Similar to Dr Viel's statistics, Dr Apa estimates that around 40 per cent of his customers are men. He also says that people of all ages, "from 15 to 80", use his services, and there's a pretty equal split between Emiratis and expats.
A major concern amongst the most squeamish of patients is how invasive the treatment can be, but Dr Apa insists that it needn't be. "Depending on the condition of the teeth," he says, "we can make it very minimally invasive by not touching the teeth at all, doing addition ceramics or we can use traditional veneers."
According to Apa, the benefits of cosmetic dental procedures are far-ranging and many. "It can improve your function if that’s your problem, improve jaw pain, colour, shape, enhance overall facial beauty and also improve oral health," he says.Prices for cosmetic dental work vary wildly "depending on the procedure," says Dr Apa. "If we’re doing aligners or braces it will be roughly AED 35,000, but if we’re doing a full mouth of veneers then it can cost upwards of AED 90,000."
Amid all this talk of AED 90,000 full-mouth overhauls, Dr Apa stresses that this is at the extreme end of the kind of procedures they perform, and most men are more interested in "the natural look". He says, "People want to get things done which are not necessarily noticed or pinpointed, they want to look and feel better but they don’t want people to be able to point out what exactly has been done!"
Details: Dr Maurizio Viel and Dr Roberto Viel are based at the London Centre for Aesthetic Surgery in Dubai, London's Harley Street, and the Atlantis Hotel ShuiQi Spa. For an appointment or more information visit www.LCAS.ae
Dr Apa's new Dubai practice is set to open on Jumeriah Beach Road in February. To book an appointment visit rosenthalapa.com