Day in the Life: The Dubai plastic surgeon famous for his 'mommy makeovers'

Dr Carmelo Crisafulli has helped thousands of patients achieve their desired look and feel their best

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A Day in the Life allows you to step into the shoes of a UAE resident to experience a typical 24 hours in their work and home life.

Plastic surgeon Dr Carmelo Crisafulli mastered his skills at medical centres around the world, including the US, France, Spain, Brazil, Mexico and Romania, plus a practice in Milan, before arriving in Dubai in 2016.

Hailing from a medical family, he studied at the University of Messina, in Sicily, before beginning his career 16 years ago.

The 40-year-old Italian is now the medical director and partner at Cosmo Health Jumeirah, specialising in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, aesthetic medicine and laser treatments.

Among the services Dr Carmelo offers is a post-pregnancy "Mommy Makeover", which involves a tummy tuck and liposuction, and a "Daddy Makeover", embracing similar procedures for men who have experienced significant weight loss due to bariatric procedures.

Here, Dr Carmelo takes The National through his work day and shows us how he changes the lives of his patients.

5.30-6am: Already awake

The day usually begins with exercise, often a run or a gym session.

"Or a swim. We have a nice pool in City Walk where I live with my family, so I like to do 45 minutes. Then we start preparing breakfast, I chat with my wife and take my daughter to school," he says.

It's a short drive to the clinic or the hospital, depending on whether Dr Carmelo is consulting or operating that morning.

“I always wanted to be a doctor, I come from a family of doctors…it’s in my DNA. I started in the plastic surgery department and fell in love with the reconstructive procedure and used to work a lot with kids.”

7.30am: Prepare for surgery

The shortest operation lasts about one hour and could include procedures such as liposuction or breast augmentation.

Body lifting – mostly involving the tummy and/or lower back, thighs and arms that involves removing excess of skin – is a procedure that can take up to eight hours to complete.

"I usually start at 8.30am, but I'm there at 7.30am because the most important thing before surgery is to assess the patient again, do the drawings and then you are ready.

"It's very important to mark the area to cut or reshape while the patient is standing up in order to respect the gravity and dynamics of a body. That wouldn't be possible while the patient is under general anaesthesia."

With an average of 220 surgeries booked in his calendar annually, plus smaller procedures at the clinic, Dr Carmelo has thousands of treatments under his belt.

"Before the holidays usually it's busier with body contouring procedures, while before Christmas I'm busier performing facial surgery or tummy tucks.

"Patients want to have a 'perfect' body to show, or their face, during the holidays or whenever there are gatherings."

Body contouring prices start from Dh35,000 ($9,528) up to Dh150,000 ($40,838), while face lifts can come in below Dh100,000 ($27,225).

"Next week I have a surgery booked that cost Dh120,000 ($32,670). It's a three area procedure that will take around six to seven hours. It could be, for example, a tummy tuck, thigh lifting and breast lifting."

10.30am-11am: Getting clinical

When he doesn't have surgeries planned, Dr Carmelo has a later start and heads for the clinic for consultations with existing or prospective clients. These can include minor procedures such as Botox injections or body fillers, costing from Dh1,350 ($367) using "safe and certified" ingredients such as hyaluronic acid.

"It depends day by day. I dedicate one or two days of the week to surgeries."

Dr Carmelo says some patients fly in for an appointment or surgery, including wealthy and famous people such as sports stars, royalty, entrepreneurs and even pop stars.

"We can improve our ageing process, but still we will always age... you have to be coherent with what life gives you."

1.30am-2pm: Time for lunch…maybe

It could be a “quick bite” such as a protein bar.

“Sometimes I don’t have time to get lunch. It depends on which kind of procedure I have. I like to rest my mind and hands.”

3pm: Patients and patience

Early morning surgery can be followed by the clinic, including follow-ups and procedures done the previous days.

"I take around 45 minutes in the slot because I want the patient to understand everything, including the risks and limits. Each surgery is a journey so I explain the pros and cons of the procedure and I show some before and after pictures.

"I'm the first one saying 'don't stick only to my consultation, check with other doctors' because it's important to get differing opinions."

Hence, not all consultations lead to the scalpel. It can usually take 10 to 15 days for someone to go from a consultation to the operating table.

Dr Carmelo's role can involve an element of psychology.

"I say no to some patients because they may take my consultation as a remedy to fix their lifestyle.

"I explain what is the best they can do for their face or body.

"But when someone asks me 'what do I need' I never answer. I say, 'tell me what you don't feel comfortable with or what you don't like and I'll see if I can fix it.'

"The less you do, the better this is for the patient, even if I get less money. They should trust the doctor and be sure he is not doing surgery just to fill his bank account. At the end, they appreciate my honesty."

5pm: Odd requests

Consultations continue, but some can bring patients as young as 20 requesting Botox or others seeking 'cat eyes' or 'ponytail lifts'.

"Once I answered 'am I a vet or a plastic surgeon?' because I don't do this kind of thing. Why do you want to change the shape of your eyes?"

Social media, he says, fuels much of this.

"They come to us knowing 100 per cent the potential result, but they are expecting miracles out of nothing. They think we are magicians, but they don't realise I cannot put a filter on real life.

"Cosmetic surgery, when done properly, is a form of art. It's something beautiful and I'm in love with my job."

It's the positive feedback from patients that make what Dr Carmelo does worth it.

"Once a patient who didn't want to post any pictures was so grateful she asked me to take more and post them because she couldn't believe the huge transformation she went through. That made my day."

7pm-7.15pm: Home comforts

Back at home and it's family time.

"My daughter jumps on my chest and then she goes to sleep.

"I have dinner and watch Netflix with my wife," says Dr Carmelo, who will soon be welcoming twins to the family.

"I go to sleep early, usually 9.30pm, maximum 10pm, sometimes on the sofa, sometimes on the bed. It depends on how tired I am.

“The weekend are my two days dedicated to the family and we don’t talk about our jobs.”

3am: Ramadan hours

Dr Carmelo is familiar with both early starts and late finishes, sometimes taking appointments late into the night.

He also confirms he sometimes sees patients into the early hours during Ramadan.

"Patients come for injections, like Botox and filler, at 2am or 3am," he adds.

Updated: November 10, 2023, 12:21 PM