Demand for plastic surgery doubles in Dubai as tech dependence takes its toll

Frequent use of Zoom is making people more self conscious, while longer periods of using gadgets is also affecting the body

Dr Matteo Vigo, a specialist plastic surgeon gives a face consultation to a patient at HealthBay Women's Care, Dubai. Khushnum Bhandari / The National
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Plastic surgery in Dubai is booming, with the number of cosmetic procedures more than doubling in two years.

Experts said the rise of video conferencing platforms such as Zoom has had a negative effect on self image, prompting many users to consider plastic surgery.

Dependence on technology has spawned “tech-neck”, a repetitive strain injury that can be caused by long periods of typing or looking down at phones or tablets while adopting a hunched position.

Eyelid surgery, skin tightening operations and liposuction are some of the most popular procedures recorded.

We can contour the jawline and remove a double chin with impressive results, at a cost of around Dh20,000
Dr Matteo Vigo

Recent Dubai Health Authority figures showed the number of people seeking cosmetic procedures has risen sharply since the onset of Covid-19, up from 223,507 in 2020 to 583,909 in 2022.

Men now account for a quarter of all those checking in for plastic surgery.

The way people work — with more home working since the pandemic and the widespread use of smartphones, tablets and laptops — is contributing to more neck wrinkles and double chins that surgeons are now being asked to remove.

Zoom anxiety

“After Covid, people definitely became more conscious about the way they looked, their faces and their bodies,” said Dr Matteo Vigo, a plastic surgeon in Dubai, who is part of teaching faculty of the Canadian Board of Aesthetic Medicine (CBAM).

“Every day they were making Zoom calls or were not wearing make up or dressing properly while home working, so of course — this had an impact on the perception of their appearance.

“Since July 2020, requests (for surgery) have skyrocketed.

“People could not travel so they saved their money and invested in themselves.”

Dubai is set to host world’s largest gathering of plastic surgeons during the three-day Annual World Congress of the International Confederation of Plastic Surgical Societies (ICOPLAST) in May.

The event is expected to attract more than 1,500 medical professionals in the field, from 60 international surgical societies.

At the Amwaj Polyclinic in Jumeirah Beach Residence and the Healthbay Polyclinic, Dubai, where Dr Vigo works, surgeons are experiencing a boom in demand.

A new skin tightening technique using liposuction with a plasma energy machine that tightens the skin once fat is removed is a popular method of shifting a stubborn double chin, he said.

“We can contour the jawline and remove a double chin with impressive results, at a cost of around Dh20,000.

“Mummy makeovers are another growing trend, as women who have had several pregnancies are working out a lot and are fitness conscious to get back in shape, but their skin is often too relaxed.

“It is a combination of stomach and breast surgeries to reshape after delivery. Surgeons perform tummy-tucks, liposuction and breast augmentation.

“In total, costs can reach Dh100,000 and usually require an overnight hospital stay.”

Tackling Tech-neck

The trend is not only confined to Dubai, which is often referred to as the Beverly Hills of the Middle East due to the vast number of cosmetic surgery clinics open for business.

In New York, plastic surgeon Dr Richard Westreich said tech-neck was now as common as carpal tunnel syndrome.

“This repetitive use injury can lead not only to headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and tingling in the hands, but also deep wrinkles,” said Dr Westreich.

“Deep, horizontal lines in the neck and double chins are the cosmetic consequences of keeping the head tilted downward for long periods of time.

“Fortunately, cosmetic surgeons have solutions to some of these problems.”

In-demand cosmetic procedures - in pictures

Updated: February 07, 2023, 5:16 AM