x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Under the knife: meet the UAE’s first cosmetic surgery consultancy

Considering plastic surgery? A new consultancy in Dubai is offering prospective patients objective information, and helps them choose the right doctor for the procedure they seek.

Vasilica Baltateanu, the founder of the UAE's first plastic surgery consultancy. Razan Alzayani / The National
Vasilica Baltateanu, the founder of the UAE's first plastic surgery consultancy. Razan Alzayani / The National

So you’re thinking about getting plastic surgery done, but you don’t know where to go. Chances are any clinic you walk into will try to convince you that they have what you’re looking for in an attempt to make a quick buck. And with more than 100 licensed facilities and surgeons in Dubai, how do you choose from all the clutter?

A new plastic surgery consultancy in the emirate, Vasilica Aesthetics, aims to do just that – give patients objective information and guide them to the right doctor for the procedure they seek.

When it comes to cosmetic surgery, decisions should not be taken lightly, says Vasilica Baltateanu, the managing director of the consultancy. The inspiration for her firm came straight from the people she worked with as a patient coordinator in Dubai.

“I had patients who wanted to see a famous doctor, a good doctor, but not for the area I knew he was the best at,” she says. “So I knew if that patient goes to this doctor, although he is a very good surgeon, the patient might need a revision.”

With thorough knowledge of the latest technologies available, a growing database of doctors and a degree in psychology, Baltateanu gives clients a well-rounded overview of what they’re getting into. She offers consultations for invasive, non-invasive and minimally invasive procedures, including Botox and fillers.

“Part of the consultation is assessing the patient’s expectations and making sure they’re realistic,” she says. “Although this should be done as part of the doctor consultation, sadly it doesn’t always happen. And in some cases, I have to explain to a patient why it’s better not to have the procedure.”

Ensuring that clients choose the right procedure for their body type is also crucial, Baltateanu says.

“For example, in the case of liposuction I would first assess their body mass index to see if this person is actually a suitable candidate for the procedure,” she says. “After that, I discuss what kind of results they want. For example, if it’s a lady who wants to tighten loose skin, that requires one machine. If it’s a male who wants to work towards a six-pack, that’s another. So I guide them to the right centre that can give them what they’re looking for, whereas a doctor may sell whatever machine they have available at their clinic.”

Baltateanu works with doctors in Dubai, including visiting doctors from London, Cannes, Beverly Hills and Milan. Doctors are selected based on their credentials and patient history and she plans to expand her reach to doctors across the whole country.

During the consultation, she discusses all aspects of the client’s desired procedure, including expected results, treatment options and costs. However, the physical examination is left to the first doctor visit, where she can accompany her clients if they wish.

For the next six months, Baltateanu is offering free consultations, which can last anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours. Funding for the centre is currently coming from VIP clients who are charged for visits and house calls. In the future, however, clients will be charged Dh350.

“I’m aware that soon we will need a steady source of revenue, but for now there is no charge because I want to implement the concept first,” Baltateanu says. “At the moment if you tell people there is a charge, they will think ‘why should I go and spend additional money instead of going straight to the doctor?’ People need to understand why this is important first.”

A Dutch-German business owner was among Vasilica’s first clients, after opening last November. Through Baltateanu’s guidance, the client has received five procedures including breast reduction, liposuction and dental veneers. She says she is happy with the results, adding that she was initially lost without the guidance.

“Every time I went to a doctor, he’d try to convince me that his method was the best,” she says. “I’m not an expert, so I didn’t know and I got really confused.”

She says Dubai’s transient nature also makes it difficult to hold surgeons accountable.“There are private clinics that perform surgeries, shut down and the surgeons leave the country. And then what will you do?” she says. “The health authority is not making it easy to get the licence, but unfortunately there are still people who are not in good faith and just after the money. That’s why it’s very important that there is someone here with the knowledge and resources that does the due diligence for you.”

The service, she says, will help boost medical tourism in the emirate and reinforce faith in the industry among tourists and residents.

“We have internationally acclaimed visiting doctors coming from abroad as well experts here in the UAE,” she says. “This is the message we want to get across, and we can do this by directing people to the right doctors and reducing revision surgeries.”

Cosmetic facilities in Dubai:

Dec 2011: 104

Dec 2012: 122

Dec 2013: 145

Plastic surgeons in Dubai:

Dec 2011: 25

Dec 2012: 65

Dec 2013: 109

Source: Dubai Health Authority Sheryan System

• Vasilica Aesthetics is on Level 14, Boulevard Plaza Tower 1, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai. Consultation is free for six months; Dh350 after. Visit www.vasilica-aesthetics.com or call 04 455 8662