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Manama: About half a trillion dollar was spent on plastic surgery in the Gulf in 2009, an official from a Gulf association of plastic surgeons has said.

"The amount spent on plastic surgical procedures in the Gulf in 2009 is estimated to be around half-a-trillion dollar,” Dr Ali Al Numairy, secretary general of the GCC Association of Plastic Surgeons (GCCAPS), said.

"With the demand for plastic surgery greatly increasing in the region, more and more international cosmetic surgeons are coming to the Middle East to reside and practice.

"When we set up the GCCAPS in 1984, the total number of plastic surgeons in the Gulf countries was not more than 30. Today we have more than 300 plastic surgeons in the region," he said, quoted by the Qatar Tribune daily.

According to Al Numairy, who was speaking on the sidelines of the plastic surgery conference held as part of the ongoing Qatar Health Congress, "the Gulf is fast becoming a destination for medical tourism in plastic surgery as well since the procedures cost less here when compared with the West."

Liposuction and abdominalplasty are the two most common procedures performed among patients in the region, followed by nose and breast surgeries, he said.

"The reasons for the high number are many. We have one of the highest numbers of obesity cases in the world, besides problems like multiple pregnancies. Moreover, everybody wants to look beautiful as beauty has become one of the primary requirements for job application these days,” he said.

Referring to the pressure faced by plastic surgeons, Al Numairy said that "everybody has become crazy about the new filler and Botox use."

"The high demand puts pressure on the surgeon whether to use that therapy or not.

"Moreover, with patients getting more knowledgeable it has become important for us to update our information. The plastic surgeons must be good enough to satisfy the customers who normally come from the high-income bracket," he said.