Dubai: The rise in the number of legal cases of botched up cosmetic and plastic surgeries raises questions about the standard of such procedures available in the UAE.
A fairly recent case that comes to mind is that of a woman claiming psychological, physical and financial damages for an unsuccessful liposuction. The Arab woman claimed that the operation resulted in physical disfigurement. The case led the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department to issue a warning on January 15, 2012, against cosmetic surgery, unless deemed necessary. The department also urged residents to verify the credentials of the doctor and the facility.
Gulf News contacted the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and cosmetic surgeons to ascertain cosmetic surgery standards in the UAE.
In 2011, the DHA received four complaint cases relating to plastic surgery and, in 2012, five with two malpractice cases relating to botox treatment.
Dr Laila Mohammad Al Marzouqi, head of the Clinical Governance Office, Health Regulation Department, said that strict regulatory and licensing requirements are followed at the DHA. The Authority, she said, undertakes several measures to ensure plastic surgeons practising in Dubai offer services of the highest quality. “Random and planned inspection of health care facilities in Dubai and auditing performance of health care professionals are undertaken by the Regulation Department,” she said.
By way of caveat, she said that patients must be wary of choosing an unlicensed cosmetic facility. “People get plastic surgeries done at unlicensed venues for the sake of cheaper prices. For example, private residences are not the approved venue for operations and small clinics are not the right place for major plastic surgeries.”
Residents should check the credentials of doctors before undergoing any kind of surgery — aesthetic or otherwise, she advised. “Dubai has internationally-recognised aesthetic surgeons. Whether for something as minor as botox or a major surgery, patients should visit the right, licensed specialist,” said Dr Laila.
Dr Sanjay Parashar, founder and CEO of Cocoona, a centre for cosmetic and plastic surgery in Dubai highlighted the importance of a thorough consultation between patient and medical practitioner. “Communication is important to make the patient understand the risks involved and measures required if any complication occurs. A qualified surgeon is careful in identifying a suitable candidate, selecting an appropriate procedure, carrying it out in a diligent way and following up,” he said.
According to Dr Parashar, the lack of standards in cosmetic surgery in the UAE is a perception. “There are experienced and qualified surgeons practicing in the UAE, following international guidelines and protocols for patients. The law is strict for practitioners. Even when it comes to medical tourists visiting our centre — about 20 per cent — we have strict pre-operative protocol and post-operative care system.”
However, he said that one of the issues that give the cosmetic and plastic surgery profession a bad reputation is a certain percentage of insufficiently trained medical staff. “We get a bad name when under-qualified, inexperienced medical staff set up business and advertise their services after learning just a handful of procedures.”
Dr Jaffer Khan, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Aesthetics International, a plastic and cosmetic surgery clinic in Dubai, said that in the 15 years that he has worked in the UAE, he has heard of only four cases relating to liposuction that have had serious complications, with two involving deaths.
“The rate of botched cosmetics operations is much lower now than in the past. In fact, the standard in the UAE is at par with other developed countries. However due to a high demand for cosmetic services, a few surgeons may not turn away a client even if the procedure is unsuitable, unsafe and/or technically unviable. This happens internationally as well,” he said.
Dr Khan said that to avoid unsuccessful cosmetic procedures, clients should check all the parameters required, from understanding the need for the surgery to verifying the credentials of the surgeon. “Patient testimonials are useful in this regard,” he said.