In April this year, the Dubai court jailed Steven Moos for posing as a famous US plastic surgeon and performing operations on the kitchen table of his Al Barsha villa. It may seem preposterous that Moos’s patients allowed him to operate on them in such a plainly amateurish manner, yet several of those patients are now left with deformities. Dr Amin Hussain Al Amiri of the Ministry of Health confirms: ‘No medical practices are allowed in homes or herbal medicine shops, where procedures have been attempted. Medical practices are only allowed in licensed areas, and in health centres, clinics or hospitals.’
Regulation of cosmetic surgery is a lot tighter in Dubai nowadays. Once upon a time, untrained staff in Dubai beauty salons were giving Botox injections and performing laser hair removal, leaving devastating damage in their wake. (For example, face muscles can be harmed if Botox is injected incorrectly, causing permanent drooping). Dr Amiri tells us: ‘Spas are not allowed to use lasers or Botox unless they have a licence from the appropriate health authority, and the practitioner should be either a doctor, a nurse, or a technologist. In the past year we have stopped many salons from practising with laser machines and Botox.’
Dr Jaffer Khan, an ISAPS-registered consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon based in Dubai, tells us that regulation here is good. ‘I don’t think there’s any problem with regulation at all,’ he says. ‘Surgeons have to undergo an interview and their papers are then reviewed by a panel of officials from the Ministry of Health, Dubai Health Authority and a group of Dubai-based surgeons.’ He contends that standards here are generally high. ‘There are a number of private hospitals here that are very, very good,’ he says. ‘We’re certainly better than places like Thailand, Colombia or Mexico.’ All of these countries offer cheap surgery to attract medical tourists.
Bogus plastic surgeon Steven Moos – ‘the Al Barsha butcher’ – is an extreme case of surgery gone wrong in Dubai. But it’s not the only case. Here are a few shockers.
• In 2008, police raided a flat in Deira where untrained ‘surgeons’ carried out discount cosmetic surgery. None of these people were qualified, surgical implements lay alongside kitchen utensils, and ‘staff’ reused surgical gloves.
• This year, the Dubai Court imprisoned a French doctor who, while performing a breast enlargement on a 24-year-old Belarusian woman, gave her the wrong injection, which then killed her. He was formally charged with practising without a licence.
• A British surgeon was jailed in Dubai last year for leaving unskilled medical personnel in charge of a 27-year-old Emirati patient. Without proper medical attention, the patient died after botched liposuction surgery.
Plastic fantastic? Click here to view
The Rise of Medical Tourism Click here to view
Confessions of A Surgery Enthusiast Click here to view
The Realities Click here to view