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15 May, 2009 04:29

Cut-rate plastic surgeons lead to costly rehab

Syria has become the beauty factory of the Middle East, where thousands flock for affordable cosmetic surgery. However, the quality of the doctor's work is not guaranteed.

Ghazal Khader paid $500 for her nose job, fifteen times less than she would in Europe, but it's not just about the money.

“If you can improve yourself, why shouldn't you? I can afford it, and it is not against the will of Allah,”
she believes.

There are thousands all over the Middle East who think the same, and will cross multiple borders to let Syrian surgeons perform their transformations. Plastic surgery is now affordable, and if you scan the local women's magazines, there is no shortage of services on offer.

With the popularity of the procedure increasing, and with regulation remaining weak, not every procedure is a 100% success.

Rasela Abu Assali says her wealthy friends encouraged her to get a nose job. The result was asymmetrical and misshapen, and caused her six years of anguish before she had the surgery corrected.

She now admits she should have not done it at all:

“I really regret it. I had psychological problems. I didn't have to do the surgery- there was nothing wrong with me before.”

There are only 65 licensed plastic surgeons in Syria. The actual number of clinics offering surgery is estimated at more than 40, so no one knows what qualifications the doctors in most of them possess.

Plastic surgeon Dr. Bashar Rabbah says that even certification is not the solution:

“Results vary widely between the clinics. It's not just about the licenses. After all, even a bad doctor can buy himself the license, or bring one back from another country.”

It's tempting to see plastic surgery as a symbol of a conservative, Islamic society becoming more liberal and westernized. In actual fact, the opposite may hold true.

“In [western] society we concentrate on the body. A woman should be perfect bodily,” says psychologist Jalal Noufal. So when beauty is at stake, a woman does not care much about the doctor’s qualification, he adds.