Three years ago, Danny Chavo, a Dubai-based PR professional, contracted chickenpox. The resulting rashes, which left him with permanent marks on his face, have been traumatising the 30-year-old so much that he is now considering plastic surgery.
“I want to get that part of me back again,” he says. “When you have the disease at a later stage in life, it can be quite stressful. I took a lot of help from skin specialists but there are still some marks and my nose still looks a little deformed.”
Chavo, who has already consulted some specialists in Dubai, says “corrective surgery and a little nose job” would go a long way to making him feel good about himself and boosting his self-esteem. And he is not alone. More and more men in the UAE are going under the knife in a bid to feel more attractive – and many of them are CEOs, high-profile managers and business owners.
According to Dr Dany Kayle, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at the Manchester Clinic in Jumeirah, the percentage of male clients at his centre has grown from 10 per cent in 2000 to 35 per cent. What is driving the surge, according to the specialist, is increased awareness about procedures and the UAE’s growing business culture where appearances are everything.
“Thanks to the media, there is more awareness now. Also for many of my clients, it is important for business. If you want to make a business deal, you don’t want those frown lines on your forehead. Looking your best and being cheerful is important,” he says.
From wrinkle-removing Botox shots that cost Dh2,000 for one session to face lifts and liposuction that can range from Dh27,000 to Dh50,000, men in the Emirates, it seems, are willing to dig deep to make that all-important impression.
Dr Zahra Al Refaei, the owner of Deparis Surgical Centre in Bur Dubai, says her clinic has seen a 40 per cent increase in the number of male patients with the most popular treatments being liposuction, fillers, Botox and body hair removal.
“Some of the procedures are expensive but many people don’t mind spending the money. Everyone deserves to treat themselves now and again,” says the plastic surgeon.
Although there is no official UAE number available, the beauty industry in the United Kingdom is estimated to be worth £800 million (Dh5.9 billion) with British men spending an average of £300 a year on beauty products. These numbers, from a study conducted by online market research company Opinion Health, also revealed that of 1,000 men polled, 23 per cent said they would have plastic surgery.
Meanwhile in the United States, more than a million men had cosmetic plastic surgery procedures in 2006, according to statistics released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The society, an organisation of certified plastic surgeons, revealed in their study that more and more men were looking to revitalise their ageing face and preferred procedures that were less invasive, less expensive and required less healing time.
Men also increasingly turned to surgery to achieve a more toned body. Since 2005, the number of thigh lifts increased by 39 per cent, male breast reductions by 22 per cent and tummy tucks by four per cent. Increased demand is also putting Dubai on the map for plastic surgery tourism, say the experts.
Gail Clough, the director of UK-based Dubai Surgery, says thanks to lower costs and the presence of world-class facilities and qualified doctors, the emirate is proving the ultimate destination for a nip and tuck. Clough, whose company predominantly targets clients from the UK, says doctors based in the UAE are some of the best in the world.
“It is almost 30 per cent cheaper here than in the UK. Our clients can come, stay at the best hotels, recover privately, relax and return to their home country with a new look,” says the director, adding that her four-year-old business has doubled over the years.
Clough, 43, who admits to having at least 10 procedures herself, says the UAE’s transient population means people are changing jobs more often, fuelling the need for creating the perfect first impression at the interview.
“Appearances are becoming more important,” she says, adding that 20 per cent of her client base accounts for male patrons. “The most popular procedures for them are hair transplants, liposuction, nose reshaping and Botox,” she explains. “There are excellent doctors and clinics here. You only have to know where to go and what you need.”
Manchester Clinic’s Dr Kayle says Dubai will soon beat Beirut as the preferred destination for cosmetic surgery in the Middle East.
“We are already getting there. Even Lebanese themselves are coming here,” says the surgeon, who is originally from Beirut. “Dubai is already one of the top destinations for plastic surgery and we are on our way to be a medical hub for the whole region.”
Last October, authorities at Dubai Healthcare City announced the official opening of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital (AACSH). The state-of-the-art facility provides, among other benefits, five fully equipped operating theatres, private entrances to ensure confidentiality of patients and recovery rooms with deluxe presidential and royal suites. The centre will also include the AACSH Educational Centre, which will provide internationally accredited surgical and non-surgical workshops, affiliated to the AACS in the US.
Deparis Surgical Centre’s Dr Al Refaei says the rise in the number of people looking to alter their looks is also leading to increased competition among clinics offering various cosmetic and surgical solutions.
“There are more people coming and that means more competition. Some facilities are better than Europe and America,” she says.
Taboos and negative perceptions about men going under knife are long gone, says Dubai Surgery’s Clough.
“Men are figuring out that there are some very sophisticated treatments available and they want to know more,” she says. “Back in the day, women aged and men matured. Now the tables have turned and men want a piece of the action. We are here to help.”
The average cost of one Botox session to remove wrinkles in the UAE
The average cost of a facelift in the UAE
The total worth of the beauty industry in the United Kingdom
The average amount British men spend on beauty products a year
The number of men who had cosmetic plastic surgery in the United States in 2006
The cost of being beautiful