Image Credit: Shutterstock

If facial procedures were all the rage during the peak of the pandemic – remember the Zoom boom phenomenon when aestheticians across the developed world reported an increase in demand for surgical and non-surgical treatments for the face – now the focus has shifted to the body. Liposuction, body reshaping and breast augmentation are once again climbing the charts, say UAE experts.

“A lot of clients have weight issues as they gained a lot during Covid-19,” explains Dr Sanjay Parashar, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at Cocoona Centre for Aesthetic Transformation. “Now they want to shed their excess fat and look better. They want a slimmer tummy, narrower waist, sculpted chest and six-pack abs.”

It’s not surprising. As people got back to office and started socialising, they wanted to look their best and feel confident.

Dr Maurizio Viel, Plastic Surgeon at Cornerstone Clinic, too noticed a huge demand for such procedures when the restrictions were eased one year into the pandemic. But he says the demand is now returning to pre-Covid levels. However, the pandemic seems to have piqued previously uninterested people’s curiosity in cosmetic treatments, creating a new set of clientele. “People who had never previously thought about cosmetic surgery or medical facials are now more willing to try as part of their beauty routine,” explains Dr Viel. “There is a better understanding to take better care of themselves in terms of health, wellness and aesthetics.”

And they seem to start early and keep at it well into their old age. Majority of Dr Parashar’s clientele fall into the 30-70 year bracket, but he’s been seeing an increase in younger clients. “We have younger patients aged 20 coming in for treatments to prevent ageing signs and improve skin quality. And on the other hand we are treating clients between 70 and 85 years who are healthy and fit.”

Dr Rola Al Shehadat, Specialist in Dermatology and Aesthetics at DermaZone, Laser & Cosmetic Center, has been observing a similar trend. “People aged between 25 and 45 were the biggest part of my clientele but lately we are seeing younger men and women between 18 and 25 years as they start caring for their skin and appearance at an earlier age,” she says.

The proportion of men to women has also changed over the years, adds Dr Viel. If 20 years ago, it was mostly women who came in for treatments, now about 25 per cent of his clinic’s clientele are men.

With the UAE providing cutting-edge cosmetic treatments, residents have always been quick to adopt the latest procedures to address their concerns.

Facial problems feature right at the top, says Dr Parasher, with skin texture, ageing-related issues, droopy eyelids and sagging neck skin causing worry. Body shape comes next with flabs, bulging tummy, sagging arms, fat thighs and cellulite giving sleepless nights to both men and women.

“Breast enhancement and lifting are also very commonly performed procedures as many clients are concerned about disproportionately small breasts or oversized sagging breasts or even simply because they want to improve their body image,” he adds.

With more and more people achieving drastic weight loss through lifestyle changes, management of nutrition, as well as weight loss surgeries, there’s a growing demand for body lift surgeries to tighten the excessively saggy tummy, arms, and thighs. Nose shaping through fillers or surgery is also quite big with both men and women opting for them.

In terms of treatments, injectables such as Botox, fillers and platelet-rich plasma are still the favourites, with Covid-19 unable to make any dent in their popularity.

Dr Al Shehadat, who practises the Russian technique for lip fillers, says the most wanted invasive treatment at her centre is fillers whether it’s for the face, body shaping or lips. Full face contouring with fillers to create symmetry is quite popular. “It makes all the difference but without overly changing the features. Brides request that the most.”

The point to note, however, explains Dr Viel, is that patients who had previously never considered these anti-ageing treatments are now adding them as part of their beauty regime. “These newer patients also prefer and are asking for bio-revitalisation treatments, where minerals and vitamins are injected into the face as more natural treatments as well as botox and fillers.”

Apart from hydrafacial, peels and the like for the face, Dr Parashar is seeing an increase in demand for fractionated laser treatment to reduce wrinkles and improve skin texture as well as non-invasive body slimming and sculpting techniques. “Revolutionary technologies such as Emsculpt, Emerald laser, Robolex can help address all issues like deep fat metabolism, muscle toning and skin lifting,” he says. “We are now able to target excessive body fat at all levels including visceral fat, fat around stomach and intestines.”

With advances in technology, innovations are coming to the fore at a much faster pace than before. “We currently work with radiofrequency for non-invasive treatments as an alternative to laser,” explains Dr Viel. “This space is growing as technology gets better for both face and body in terms of non-invasive treatments. For the face, it is able to resurface, and for the body it helps to tighten the skin and in mild fat reduction.”

In the invasive treatment space, what’s caught his eye is the J-Plasma, a one-time surgical procedure to tighten loose skin around the body. “J-Plasma is the most revolutionary device to date to tighten the skin of the face, neck and body and has been noted as a game changer in skin-tightening,” Dr Viel says. “This technology integrates helium gas with radio-frequency energy to create cold helium plasma to tighten and rejuvenates the skin. For example, the J-Plasma can be used for tightening the skin around the tummy area or even the chin area giving superior results.”