x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Cosmetic surgery is not just skin deep

Cosmetic surgery is becoming more common, and gaining rapidly among men. Is this altogether a good thing?

When Kirsten Miller decided to have a cosmetic procedure, she had no idea what she was in for. The story, reported in The National last year, tells how Ms Miller believed she was commissioning a simple procedure, a semi-permanent eyeliner tattoo, which would save her time and make-up expenses.

Instead she was left with unsightly blotches and uneven lines on her face - and traumatised by the botched surgery.

Many similar cases are reported to health authorities in the UAE every year. In a medical field that is growing rapidly, as The National reports today, there are alarming numbers of botched surgeries, unregistered practitioners and flawed practices.

Cosmetic surgery can have life-changing beneficial effects - the story today of Ali Al Zubaidi, who has had several weight-loss related procedures, demonstrates the point.

But in other cases, the psychological effect of these surgeries can be very negative. Even when cosmetic surgery is successful, psychiatrists suggest that appearance-related anxiety is not always resolved. In many cases, a surgery can make the situation worse, especially for people who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder, in which they are obsessed with imagined or very slight physical flaws.

Some statistics indicate that cosmetic surgery may have doubled in Dubai in a single year. Regardless of the exact numbers, there is no doubt that the trend, especially among men, is on the rise. Nearly a quarter of clients at the American Academy for Cosmetic Surgery Hospital are male, compared to just 10 per cent in 2008.

Many plastic surgeries centres, especially private clinics, do not require a psychological assessment before a cosmetic procedure. And if assessments are offered, many clients forego them - plastic surgeons themselves are raising this as a concern. Studies shows that being mentally prepared is as important as being physically fit. It's essential to evaluate a patient's psychological condition before proceeding to the operation room.

And most importantly, people should keep in mind that their health is far more important than anything else. In a beauty-obsessed society, the words of the Lebanese-American poet Khalil Gibran ring even more true: "Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart."