When the word plastic surgery is heard or used, people immediately think of body changes or enhancements and want to know what has been done. This is especially so in the case of women due to the focus and featuring of the female face and body in magazines and fashion shows. Plastic surgery is performed all over the world where we have women who are in need of bodily transformations and where the procedures are available. There is a high prevalence of this in the US and Europe, and through globalization the image of the enhanced ‘western woman’ has been spread far and wide. Because of this, we find women aspiring to this model or just an enhancement to make her look ‘better’ than her compatriot. This phenomenon has also spread to the Middle Eastern countries and can be found from Lebanon, Syria and others to the UAE. There are many reasons which will be explained why women in this region, and the UAE resort to this treatment despite the fact that it is prohibited in the religion of Islam.
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In simple terms, plastic surgery can be seen as an operation to change, shape or mould a person’s features as you would do with plastic. However, on a more sophisticated basis, plastic, reconstructive, and cosmetic surgery refers to a variety of operations performed by doctors and undertaken by patients in order to repair or restore body parts to look normal again, or to change or enhance a body part to look ‘better’ than before and thus draw more attention. All of these types of procedures are highly specialized and require accurate skills and training to perform them. The operations require the careful preparation of a person’s skin and tissues, followed by precise cutting. Afterwards , stitching needs to be accurately done to leave minute traces of scar tissue. Due to cutting-edge technology in the form of instrumentation and procedures, plastic surgery is more advanced today than before (Magleby 2008;Surgery Encyclopedia 2010).
General Reasons for Plastic Surgery:
The three types of surgery performed use similar types of techniques and approaches. However, they all have different reasons attached. In the case of plastic surgery it is mainly used to treat defects after birth as well as enhance the skin whereby blemishes, acne scars, growths or birthmarks could be removed. Cosmetic surgery is just to make a person look younger or enhance the appearance. Reconstructive surgery is mainly used for the reattachment of body parts that got detached in an accident or in war or to add body parts that were missing at birth or were removed by surgery (Surgery Encyclopedia 2010;Skin grafts are also used for severe burn victims as shown in the case of a Palestinian child with severe burns who were sent to the UAE (Palestine Children’s Relief Fund 2006).
Specific Types and uses of Plastic Surgery:
Plastic surgery:- it involves surgical procedures of the skin. Here the popular ones are the shaping of ears, acne scars and removal of tattoos. Also, the famous excess removal of abdominal fatty tissue (‘tummy tucks’) are common.
Cosmetic surgery:- this is done on the face for enhancement and beautification. This is used to enhance facial features or correct a disfigurement. In children cleft lips or palates are cosmetically rectified. For adults it is mostly about shaping and modeling noses and lips. Sagging bags under eyelids are also done as well as the well-known facelifts. Then there are also the cases of breast enhancements- either increase or decrease the size of it. For a breast increase, implants are used and for reduction, excess fat and tissue are removed (Leslie 2009; Surgery Encyclopedia 2010; Corder 2007).
Reconstructive surgery: – most of the cases treated are accident and burn victims. In the case of accidents it is related to the rebuilding and reconstructing of broken bones and limbs and involves skin transplantations and skin grafts as well. It includes the cases of reattachment of severed fingers , toes or arms, provided these limbs are taken to the hospital quickly. At other times, artificial limbs are attached to the body or implants are made such as teeth, knee, elbow and hip joints (Surgery Encyclopedia 2010)
Is plastic surgery spreading or not?
Plastic surgery is definitely on the rise and there just does not seem to be an end to it in the near future. It has always been popular in the US, especially among films tars and other celebrities and the media thrives on this. Unfortunately for people, but good for the doctors performing it, more and more people aspire for certain looks and undergo surgery. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports that over 10.2 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed in the United States in 2008 (Batool 2009;Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Statistics 2009; Leslie 2009).
Statistics of Plastic Surgery in the US (2008)
Plastic surgery in the UAE
Even in the Middle East, plastic surgery is highly sought after. In nearby Lebanon (Lee 2008) and Syria ( Syrians seekâ€¦2009) it is big business , as well as in Iraq (Santana 2010). In Iraq one doctor reports 20 cosmetic surgeries a week (Santana 2010). In the UAE most of the women are influenced by looks of models and celebrities or artists. Although prices are said to be high (Corder 2007) , plastic surgery is still accepted and embraced by many people, men and women, but more women than men. Onlinesurgery (2009) reports an increase in UAE plastic procedures and reasons given are numerous, but the most important one is aesthetics and beauty. Because of the number of procedures undertaken and the demand by locals and women in the region, there has been an enormous increase in the number of plastic surgeries that opened in the UAE, notably the most in Dubai. Underwood (2009) on the contrary thinks that cosmetic surgery is a gamble. This is in relation to reports that many plastic surgeries in Dubai are advertising plastic surgery along with a hotel recovery period and the argument is that the cost combined with a hotel stay will be too high. One surgery directory shows 21 clinics for plastic surgery (Cosmetic Surgery – UAE & Dubai Directory). Dr.Toledo (2008) a practicing surgeon in Dubai reports that accurate statistics for the UAE are not available, but according to him there is enough business in this field and it is still on the increase.
Magleby (2008) reports that the UAE has its own rush for cosmetic surgery brought on as reported by one doctor by women’s fear that their husbands might leave them for a younger women .According to this report, the most common group seeking plastic surgery are between the ages 20 and 65.
Plastic Surgery and Islam
Gleason (2010) asserts that in the US and the Western world, plastic surgery is an everyday affair and acceptable. According to her, there are many questions being asked about plastic surgery and how acceptable it is according to the religious beliefs of Islam. This surgery is widely, but not completely rejected: according to Islam, plastic surgery purely for beautification and to look attractive is contrary to Islamic laws. It is as if the creation and handiwork of Allah (God) is condemned and unacceptable. It is the belief that the human body is given as a gift, and changing this nature which was created by Allah is a sin inspired by Satan. A second argument is whether human beings are allowed to make changes to the God-given body. It is Islamic belief that humans were created in the image of Allah and happiness should be the order of the day for Allah’s children. Therefore if there is some bodily deformity, then plastic surgery can be accepted, as long as the reason is valid. Thus, cosmetic surgery just because someone is unhappy about how Allah created him or her, is forbidden (Islam 2010; Islamonline 2002; Uloom 1999).
The Hadiths in Islam reads:
“Cursed is the woman who artificially lengthens her (or some- one else’s) hair, and the woman who asks for artificially lengthening her hair, the one who plucks hair from her face and the one who gets her hair plucked, the one who tattoos and the one who asks to be tattooed, the women who pluck hair and those who get their hair plucked, and the women who make spaces between their teeth for beautification changing what Allah has created. “
“And in the end all these were said to have one common trait characterizing them as far as their intentions are concerned: “changing what Allah has created”. (Shawqi,1987).
Why do people in the UAE undergo Plastic Surgery?
There are many reasons why Emirati women and others in the UAE resort to plastic surgery. The main reason is psychological. This connects with their self-esteem, especially married women who fear that their husbands might take a younger looking wife (Magleby 2008). According to Magleby (2008), one surgeon related that surgeons sometimes need to play the role of psychologists in the case of depressed patients who are unhappy with their looks. Many a time women have unrealistic expectations: an obese person wants liposuction to turn her into a slender person, while another expects a facelift to work a miracle and turn an older face into a youthful one. Most of the time, the results are not as were expected. There is also a wide belief that if a person is contended with her looks, then she will be a more relaxed person.
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Another reason is good looks – these are also often equated then with happiness and if one is attractive, then people accept you more easily and men find you more appealing. Many women want to copy the looks and enhancements of film stars and other celebrities and undergo surgery for eye, lip and breast enhancements. Singer Nancy Ajram, from Lebanon, is a well-known Middle Eastern, who underwent lots of surgical procedures, and Lebanon is seen as the plastic surgery capital of the Middle East (Santana 2010). A surgical makeover is high on many women’s wish-list and women in the UAE and elsewhere in the Middle East seek “nose-jobs” to fit the looks of an Arab: some like a long- looking nose, while others with too long a nose wants it shortened (Magleby 2008). Other people depend on good looks to advance their career-prospects and some jobs like journalism, front-desk work, and TV presenting, to name a few, demand a good face.
Risks and mishaps of Plastic Surgery
Plastic surgery for cosmetic enhancement, is not without any risks attached. There have been many reported cases of mishaps and even deaths that occurred in the UAE and in other parts of the world. Magleby (2008) reports that prospective clients for this procedure should check out a doctor’s credentials before surgery and should only use board-certified surgeons. Many things can go wrong during surgery or afterwards and some patients die while undergoing surgery or suffer from deformation after the operation (How to chooseâ€¦2010). Abdullah (2007) mentions a case in Dubai where a woman died after liposuction , leading to a police investigation, and this serves as a warning on choosing a surgeon. The UAE Ministry of health has warned the public against dodgy clinics using low-quality chemicals (Time Out Dubai 2009). In another case, the Dubai police raided a flat in Deira (Dubai) and shut down an unlicensed clinic where untrained, so-called surgeons performed surgery under unhygienic and unprofessional conditions. This ‘clinic’ offered low-cost procedures for treatments of Botox to enhance lips and cheeks as well as other procedures- here the risks are clearly to be seen. In January, the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi issued a statement saying that they would publish guidelines for beauty clinics to control sand prevent such incidents (Menon 2010). In another case, a doctor who was dismissed from the board of surgeons in the US for malpractices and harm caused to patients, opened a practice in Dubai, and was later arrested by the police by operating there under a false name. This clearly shows some of the risk involved in plastic surgery (Telegraph 2010).
Plastic surgery, the enhancement process by means of surgery has many different forms and benefits. It is very beneficial where someone is in need of physical enhancement due to a malformed body part or where a limb has been severed or was destroyed. In the case of cosmetic surgery it serves to mostly shape and enhance the person’s personal looks and body shape. Millions of women worldwide and in the UAE favour this procedure. The women who subject themselves to the cosmetic surgery would like to look younger, or have a better facial or bodily look. Plastic surgery for purely better looks are frowned upon in the Islamic religion, however, women in the Middle East still do this and justify their actions. This surgery also does not come without risks and people have died, especially under the hand of unprofessionally qualified surgeons. Many instances of malpractices in the UAE have been uncovered and warnings and advice have been given in connection with plastic surgery. Despite all of the things mentioned, plastic surgery still carries on as women keep on searching for better looks.