As the UAE be­comes one of the top cos­metic surgery des­ti­na­tions in the world, more and more peo­ple are turn­ing to the woman who ad­vises who they should go to for the best nip and tuck in town. Chris­tine Field­house re­ports

Friday - - Horoscopes -

San­gita* sits at the round ta­ble, sip­ping cof­fee, in the of­fice on the 14th floor in Down­town Dubai. She’s clutch­ing a mag­a­zine, which has ac­tress An­gelina Jolie on the cover. San­gita has brought this par­tic­u­lar mag­a­zine along be­cause she has cre­ated her per­sonal wish list. Not only does she want An­gelina’s nose, she also wants her chis­elled jaw­line and cheeks.

Op­po­site San­gita sits Vasil­ica Bal­tateanu, who is Dubai’s first knife coach – an in­ter­me­di­ary between cos­metic surgery pa­tients and the plas­tic sur­geons who carry out the op­er­a­tions and pro­ce­dures ev­ery year. With cos­metic surgery on the rise in the city, Vasil­ica, who has been run­ning her own coach­ing com­pany Vasil­ica Aes­thet­ics (www.vasil­i­caaes­thet­ for the last year, is a busy woman, en­sur­ing that her clients’ ex­pe­ri­ences un­der the knife are happy and healthy.

Vasil­ica nods sym­pa­thet­i­cally and makes notes on her lap­top as San­gita chats about what nips and tucks she wants. Ev­ery day Vasil­ica hears sim­i­lar sto­ries from men and women who want a celebrity’s pro­file, or their nose or chin. Some just want fa­cial re­ju­ve­na­tion to peel away a few years, while oth­ers be­lieve their lives would be so much bet­ter if they had larger breasts, a smaller nose or slim­mer, more sculpted thighs.

Shock­ingly, with obe­sity on the rise, more peo­ple are hop­ing li­po­suc­tion, the re­moval of

ex­cess body fat, is their quick­fix an­swer, while boys as young as 15 are re­port­edly un­der­go­ing surgery to treat gy­nae­co­mas­tia, the en­large­ment of male breasts. What­ever their is­sue, Vasil­ica lis­tens with­out judg­ing, of­ten ac­com­pa­ny­ing her clients to see the con­sul­tants.

“I see my role as mostly guid­ance,” she says. “Peo­ple of­ten get the name of a cos­metic sur­geon from the in­ter­net or celebrity mag­a­zines. They then go along with pho­tos of women such as Ch­eryl Ann Fer­nan­dez-Versini [for­merly Cole] and An­gelina Jolie and say they want to look like them. But surgery should be about en­hanc­ing what you al­ready have, not cre­at­ing a com­pletely new face or body.

“In Dubai, they can have the op­er­a­tion the next day if they want, so it’s easy to rush into th­ese things, but it’s im­por­tant that peo­ple do their re­search and have all the in­for­ma­tion on the risks in­volved. This is elec­tive

The US has one cos­metic sur­geon for ev­ery 50,000 peo­ple; the UAE has one for ev­ery 18,000

surgery, but it’s still surgery, and if you have a bad ex­pe­ri­ence, it can be de­press­ing and at worst, lifethreat­en­ing. I urge pa­tients to see two or three doc­tors and get as much in­for­ma­tion as they can. I’ve met peo­ple who have had fillers in their faces and they don’t even know the name of the prod­uct that was used.

“Each plas­tic sur­geon has his or her spe­cial­ity. One man wanted li­po­suc­tion with a well-known doc­tor but I pointed out that this con­sul­tant was an ex­pert in rhino­plasty [nose re­shap­ing], not li­po­suc­tion. Even in the field of li­po­suc­tion, there are dif­fer­ent ma­chines that are bet­ter suited to some skin types than oth­ers.”

Dubai is now a lead­ing plat­form for cos­metic surgery, and the UAE has one of the high­est con­cen­tra­tion of plas­tic sur­geons. In 2010 there were 25 plas­tic sur­geons reg­is­tered. Last year there were 145. While the US has one cos­metic sur­geon for ev­ery 50,000 peo­ple, the UAE has one for ev­ery 18,000 in­hab­i­tants. Of the Emi­rates Plas­tic Surgery So­ci­ety’s 150 mem­bers, 103 are in Dubai.

The city is not only at­tract­ing pa­tients from the UAE, it’s also cater­ing to those who are pre­pared to travel across con­ti­nents in search of exclusive, pri­vate treat­ment – and a few days to re­cu­per­ate in the sun or in a

‘Doc­tors may not have the time to dis­cuss op­tions in de­tail, which is why coaches are use­ful’

five-star ho­tel be­fore they re­turn home en­hanced and rested. In March,

Fri­day re­ported the Min­istry of Health is pro­ject­ing that over a mil­lion med­i­cal tourists will be vis­it­ing Dubai ev­ery year by 2020.

Lisa Falconer, from New­cas­tle upon Tyne in north­ern Eng­land, has noth­ing but praise for the cos­metic surgery scene in Dubai. The 38-yearold civil ser­vant had al­ready had breast aug­men­ta­tion in the UK when she ac­com­pa­nied her sis­ter-in-law to Dubai.

“My sis­ter-in-law was get­ting Bo­tox so I went with her and asked her con­sul­tant what I could do about my dou­ble chin,” says Lisa. “The sur­geon had worked on a few peo­ple I knew in Dubai and they’d all been very happy with him If I was having any­thing done, I wanted to go to some­one who came rec­om­mended.” Lisa ini­tially asked the con­sul­tant about a mini-facelift, but he ad­vised that Vaser li­po­suc­tion would be a bet­ter treat­ment for her.

“I went ahead and had Vaser lipo on my neck un­der my chin,” she says. “The out­come was very good and I’m re­ally happy with the re­sults.”

It was the care be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter the pro­ce­dure in Dubai that im­pressed Lisa. “Ev­ery­thing was fine when I had my breast en­large­ment surgery in the UK, but I do think there is a higher stan­dard of care and clean­li­ness in the clin­ics in Dubai,” she says. “My clinic was very clean and re­lax­ing. The staff was re­ally help­ful and po­lite. It is like a five-star prop­erty and I got five-star treat­ment from the doc­tor and the staff.

“I met my con­sul­tant be­fore my surgery and he came to see me im­me­di­ately af­ter­wards. I was al­lowed to go home the same day but I re­turned sev­eral times over the fol­low­ing two weeks for mas­sages on my neck. I also got more ad­vice while I was there.

“My con­sul­tant kept in touch and the fol­low­ing year, when I re­turned to Dubai, he asked if I had time to call in and see him, which was nice as I felt he was still look­ing af­ter me. He cared about the re­sults, which I don’t think they do as much in the UK. The af­ter­care is of amuch higher stan­dard in Dubai. If I were go­ing to have other pro­ce­dures, I would re­turn to Dubai.”

Al­though Lisa got all the in­for­ma­tion she needed from her con­sul­tant, she says she would def­i­nitely use a knife coach like Vasil­ica.

“I would speak to a coach,” says Lisa. “I didn’t know they ex­isted. I’m think­ing of having Bo­tox next so that’s some­thing I might get ad­vice about.”

Mean­while, Vasil­ica stresses it’s not her job to steer clients straight to the op­er­at­ing ta­ble. “It’s not for me to tell them what to have done, but I do give them my hon­est opin­ion about whether they might ben­e­fit from a surgery,” she says. “I try to steer them to­wards non-in­va­sive treat­ments first. I might sug­gest some changes to their diet and ex­er­cise regimes and urge them not to rush into any­thing. If they can’t af­ford a par­tic­u­lar doc­tor, I sug­gest they put the op­er­a­tion on hold un­til they can af­ford the right one for them.

“With fa­cial surgery, it’s im­por­tant they look at the over­all struc­ture of the face and I en­cour­age them to look at com­put­erised images of what they will look like af­ter the surgery.”

The three most pop­u­lar pro­ce­dures in Dubai are li­po­suc­tion, facelifts and

‘Some op­er­a­tions are com­pli­cated, and pa­tients need to know the sur­geon will be present later on’

breast aug­men­ta­tion. “Li­po­suc­tion is pop­u­lar be­cause of the life­style,” says Vasil­ica. “Peo­ple don’t move a lot in Dubai and they see li­po­suc­tion as a means of weight loss. But it isn’t a weight-loss pro­ce­dure. It’s about re­shap­ing the body. To get the best out of li­po­suc­tion, they should start ex­er­cis­ing and eat­ing healthy foods.

“Many peo­ple like the re­sult af­ter having li­po­suc­tion and they do their best to main­tain their new fig­ure, but there are peo­ple who put the weight back on and turn to surgery again. The first time li­po­suc­tion takes place, the fat is soft, but it gets tougher and the con­sul­tant will have to avoid scar tis­sue.

“If a con­sul­tant were to push too hard on the sec­ond and third op­er­a­tions, they could touch or­gans and cause bleed­ing, which can be dan­ger­ous. It’s bet­ter to get it right the first time and then main­tain it, than go back for re­peat pro­ce­dures.”

Prices in Dubai are on par with Lon­don, but more ex­pen­sive than East­ern Europe. Breast aug­men­ta­tion costs between Dh20,000 and Dh45,000, while rhino­plasty can be any­thing up to Dh100,000. Facelifts start at about Dh35,000 but be­cause they are usu­ally ac­com­pa­nied by brow lifts, chin surgery or un­der­eye work, the cost can es­ca­late to Dh160,000.

Cos­metic sur­geon Dr Mau­r­izio Viel of the Lon­don Cen­tre for Aes­thetic Surgery Gulf (www.lcas. ae) stresses pa­tients must do their re­search, whether they work with a Knife Coach or not. “Dubai has a good life­style and high stan­dards in the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion,” says Dr Viel.

“Doc­tors might not have the time to spend dis­cussing pro­ce­dures and op­tions in great de­tail, which is why coaches who give out in­for­ma­tion are use­ful. We con­sul­tants need to be pro­fes­sional and get good re­sults. It’s vi­tal that we col­lect a full med­i­cal his­tory and carry out blood tests, which are then an­a­lysed. We don’t go into op­er­a­tions blindly.

“We want pa­tients to be around for a long time and come back to us be­cause they liked our work. Some op­er­a­tions are com­pli­cated and in­volve risks, and pa­tients need to know the sur­geon will be avail­able af­ter the pro­ce­dure. Con­ti­nu­ity of care af­ter the op­er­a­tion is im­por­tant.”

Even though Dubai is emerg­ing as the cos­metic surgery cap­i­tal, some UAE clients still pre­fer the tra­di­tion of Har­ley Street in Lon­don. Paul Tul­ley, con­sul­tant plas­tic, re­con­struc­tive and aes­thetic sur­geon at 152 Har­ley Street Clinic (, says the UAE pa­tients who fly to his Lon­don clinic are younger than their UK coun­ter­parts, with most aged between 20 and mid-40s. Rhino­plasty is a favourite treat­ment – to make the nose slightly smaller.

“Lon­don, and es­pe­cially Har­ley Street, has always had a strong link with the Mid­dle East and for many, we’re the first choice for cos­metic surgery,” he says.

Knife coach Vasil­ica Bal­tateanu can give you an hon­est take on the risks in­volved

An­gelina Jolie and Ch­eryl Cole are pop­u­lar celebs peo­ple take in­spi­ra­tion from for cos­metic surgery

A Knife coach can make all the dif­fer­ence for a safe, happy pro­ce­dure

Cos­metic surgery in Dubai can range from Dh20,000 to Dh160,000

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