We look at the most popular cosmetic surgeries in town
In an image-conscious city such as Dubai, it should have come as no surprise when ShuiQi Spa at Atlantis started ‘Botox parties’ last month, in collaboration with Dubai-based plastic surgeon Dr Maurizio Viel. The Botox parties are representative of Dubai’s current appetite for cosmetic surgery: another locally based plastic surgeon, Dr Luiz Toledo, claims demand for procedures such as breast augmentation and liposuction alone has increased by 15 percent since February 2012.
Health-consciousness has also played a role – the UAE may be one of the fattest nations in the world, but more and more people are losing weight, and requiring surgery to shed the excess skin. In an effort to get under the skin of the latest cosmetic surgery trends and beauty boosts, we’ve talked to three practitioners about three very different treatments available in Dubai.
Thanks to an ever-increasing awareness of diabetes (25 percent of the local population is afflicted) and the resultant drive to lose weight, 65-year-old Portuguese plastic surgeon Dr Luiz Toledo has seen an increasing number of patients arriving in his office for post-weight-loss body contouring. And now that summer is approaching, his practice is even busier. ‘There are two types of people who come looking for body contouring,’ he explains, ‘The first are those who have excess localised fat, where they’ve tried exercise, they’ve tried diet, and yet it will not move. This is due to the way fat is distributed around the body, and that is genetic.’ The second group are those who have lost a significant amount of weight very quickly, sometimes through diet, but mostly as a result of procedures such as gastric banding. ‘If you’ve lost a lot of weight quickly, there will be excess skin and it won’t shrink back, so we do surgeries such as body lifts, arm lifts and so on to remove it.’
Toledo notes that most of his patients seeking contouring in the run-up to summer have been Emiratis, with GCC nationals a close second. ‘They don’t show their bodies as much wearing the traditional clothes, but when they’re in another country or on a summer holiday, they may be more relaxed about their dress, so they realise their bodies need to be shipshape,’ he reveals, as well as noting that he sees a higher percentage of male clients than the international average. ‘About 20 percent of my UAE clients are men – internationally it’s around 12 percent.’
The figure is even more surprising when Toledo says that he doesn’t perform hair transplants, which often make up a large proportion of cosmetic treatments performed on men.
Though contouring may be a last resort for some, Toledo warns there are limits to how much can be done. ‘You have to be conservative in terms of how much fat you can remove in one go, and how many areas you can treat. The limit is five percent of the body weight, so if a person weighs 100kg, we can take 5kg out in one surgery,’ he explains. There’s also a limit on the area affected by liposculpting, and Toledo aims to limit trauma to 20 or 30 percent of the body. The most extreme cases he sees are people who have lost up to 50kg in a year – dropping from 130kg to 80kg – and the skin’s elasticity cannot keep up. In these cases, body contouring is the only way to make a difference. Consultation from Dhs500. Mercato Family Clinic, next to Mercato Mall. Toledodubai@gmail.com (050 702 2780).
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Dr Maurizio Viel, from Dubai’s branch of the London Centre for Aesthetic Surgery, is the man behind ShuiQi spa’s new Botox parties, which aim to attract groups of women looking to celebrate a special occasion by having a relaxing spa day together and seeing the doctor for individual Botox treatments.
Dr Viel claims he has already seen a lot of interest, mostly from European women living as expats in the city – hardly surprising considering this is the most popular non-surgical procedure in the world. ‘It’s getting more popular now because patients know more about it – it’s been established for many years and there is a lot of information available,’ he says, explaining that this has eliminated a lot of fear surrounding the practice. Having operated in Dubai for three years, since moving from London where he worked for 15 years, the Italian plastic surgeon says his client base of both men and women has continued to grow with every satisfied patient, thanks to the power of word of mouth.
‘The benefit of Botox is that it makes your face wrinkle-free: on the forehead, between your eyes and at the sides of your eyes,’ he explains. ‘This softens your look, and makes you look younger.’ There is also the option to have Botox on the jawline and chin (to make sure your lower face doesn’t betray your younger-looking eyes) – both treatments have enjoyed a surge in popularity in the past 12 months. ‘The injections last for around four months, and we always say less is better. You don’t want a frozen look, and you can always come back and add a little more. If you add too much, you’re stuck for that time,’ he warns. Aside from leaving you unable to form different facial expressions, badly administered Botox comes with other risks. ‘If you inject the wrong muscle group, you can suffer drooping in the eyelid or eyebrow area, and you can also cause paralysis in the face,’ Viel explains. The best way to avoid this is to make sure your doctor is properly qualified and is using the right products, licensed by the health authority. ‘Botox is an art. You can shape the eyebrows, the forehead… but you need to know where to inject it, how it works, and the anatomy of the face.’ Consultation from Dhs350. LCAS Clinic, Dubai Healthcare City (04 375 2393). Botox parties from Dhs1,599 per person. ShuiQi Spa, Atlantis The Palm (04 426 1020).
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‘Summer has a big impact on my work,’ explains Candice Watson, a Dubai-based micropigmentation specialist who offers some alternative procedures for UAE residents. As well as semi-permanent make-up, Watson spends a great deal of time helping people ‘camouflage’ surface-level skin problems, such as scars and the effects of vitiligo, using medical pigments. It’s not so easy to hide scars when you’re wearing a bikini, which may explain why people want to get their skin sorted in time for summer trips or hitting the beach before July. ‘I’m always fully booked throughout the season, and get crazy busy during Ramadan,’ explains Watson, noting that most of her clients are Emirati women, although she also sees plenty of expats.
‘Scars range in colour, size and depth, but we provide treatments that can help all of these,’ she continues. Not only can she match the colour of your skin to fill in the scar, but there is also a technique called ‘multi treppanic collagen actuation; (MCA), which helps reduce the prominence of raised scars, skin grafts and burns by flattening and smoothing the surface, which also naturally helps to re-pigment the skin tone. Though there aren’t any major risks, the main concern for most people is that the camouflaged area won’t tan like the rest of the body, so you’ll need to be prepared to have it re-done every few years. As with all other medical practices, Watson is adamant that people seeking micropigmentation should make sure they see an expert – all treatments should be done in clinics. ‘Cutting corners for the sake of a few extra dirhams really isn’t worth it. This treatment should last several years, and mistakes should not be an option,’ she explains. And if you’re spending money to look good in that bikini, it’s reasonable to assume you won’t want to run the risk of making the situation worse. Free consultations. LCAS Clinic, Dubai Healthcare City (04 375 2393).
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Beach body help
Three treatments to help you on your way to your ideal look.
Chemical peel It sounds scarier than it is. Yes, you’ll shed a layer of skin on your face in the days following the treatment, but the ViPeel at Eternal MedSpa is less harsh, and only takes 30 minutes. After a couple of days, the treatment will leave you glowing – ready to jet off on your next holiday, or look fresh in time for summer. Dhs1,600. Eternal MedSpa, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 344 4047).
Contouring treatment Of all the body-contouring spa treatments we’ve tried, the new Get Skinny ritual at Talise Spa in the Madinat Jumeirah is the best so far. Starting with body brushing and ending with contouring and firming gel, our orange-peel dimples were visibly reduced – at least for a few days. Dhs519. Talise Spa, Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6818).
Laser hair removal Investing in laser hair removal is a great way to keep your skin soft and un-scaly in the long term – no more dragging blunt razors over legs, chest, arms and so on. Best of all, you’ll never again have to worry about a last-minute, pre-beach wax. From Dhs600 per session for underarms, packages available. Silkor, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 348 0500).