The recent scandal over substandard breast implants has had little impact on residents' enthusiasm for plastic surgery, a new survey suggests.
The scandal - in which tens of thousands of women were given implants made by a French company, Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP), from non-medical grade silicone - triggered worldwide concern over the safety and regulation of cosmetic surgery. It was reported the company had started using a cheap silicon gel intended for making mattresses, and French taxpayers footed the bill for thousands of women to have the implants removed.
But it seems to have had relatively little impact in the UAE. Of the 93 respondents to the survey, compiled for Al Aan TV's Nabd Al Arab (Arabs' Pulse) programme by YouGov, less than half (48%) had heard about it. Although the sample was small, the responses were in line with the much larger GCC sample in almost every category.
And while two in five (39%) said the news would discourage them from having breast implants, a similar number said it would make no difference. That number was similar across all age groups and all countries surveyed for the regionwide poll - the total sample was 1,829 - and between men and women.
However, more than half the respondents (56%) agreed the regulations covering plastic surgery in the UAE were not strict enough.
Patients who had breast implants in the UAE are unlikely to have had the substandard Pip implants, which were never approved by the Ministry of Health.
At the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital, in Dubai, which treats about 10 patients a day, breast procedures are the most commonly requested surgery, followed by rhinoplasties (nose jobs) and liposuction.
The overwhelming (84%) of those polled in the UAE - and similar numbers in other Arab countries - also said plastic surgery has become a trend, as opposed to a procedure people undergo for medical reasons.
Dana Shadid, a project manager for Al Aan TV, said that while greater access to and more acceptance of plastic surgery may have helped it gain popularity in the Arab world, people still needed to be cautious.
"The recent implant scandal should be taken into consideration when people opt for plastic surgery," she said. "They should do their research thoroughly and think twice [before going ahead]."
The number of people opting for plastic surgery in the UAE has definitely increased, but it follows a global rise, added Dr Sawaf, whose surgery has seen a steady rise in patients over the years.