UAE surgeon warns of deadly dangers of unlicensed cosmetic procedures

Dr Hassan Galadari tells Abu Dhabi conference of 'horror stories" leading to serious illness and even death

UAE medics are concerned about 'Botox parties' run by unlicensed practitioners. Bernadett Szabo / Reuters
UAE medics are concerned about 'Botox parties' run by unlicensed practitioners. Bernadett Szabo / Reuters

Patients in the UAE are putting their lives at risk by opting for cut-price cosmetic procedures carried out by a growing number of rogue practitioners, a surgeon said.

Dr Hassan Galadari, a specialist in cosmetic dermatology and associate professor of internal medicine at the College of Medicine and Health Sciences at UAE University, said he was "flabbergasted" by the sheer volume of unlicensed people offering services such as Botox and facial fillers.

Hitting out at the worrying culture of "Botox parties", Dr Galadari said doctors were shocked by "horror stories" of botched procedures that led to gangrene, blindness and even death.

Addressing the Emirates Academy of Dermatology, Aesthetic and Laser Conference and Exhibition, being held at the Beach Rotana in Abu Dhabi, he said more young people were seeking cosmetic procedures in the UAE.

“I had a patient just a week ago, who was sixteen years old, who came in for lip fillers and while parental consent is needed, the problem is that her parent was with her,” he said.

“I have been doing this for the past fifteen years. When I first started in the US, all my patients were 60 and above. When I came here ten years ago, my patients were nearly 35 to 40 but now they are starting in their 20s,” he said.

Dr Galadari, who is the chairman of the conference, called for regulations to be tightened to protect the public.

He said there were groups of people, including some doctors trained in other fields, "that should not be allowed to perform cosmetic procedures and yet continue to do so ... such as a family physicians or an emergency physician. Those are doctors but the problem is people who are considered beauticians, laser technicians or nurses.

“Worse still are people who come into people’s houses and have them injected. I know of Botox parties where people have come from eastern Europe or east Asia.

"The issue is that they bring the materials with them from their home, so not only are they not registered but even the materials are not registered. How did this material go through customs? Local doctors are flabbergasted by the horror stories they hear,” he said.

Dr Galadari said the consequences could be stark for people trying to turn back the ageing process in an increasingly superficial age.

“Blindness has risen a lot during the past five years, with a recent case in Abu Dhabi under ligation after a doctor injected a person who went blind,” he said.

“It is common and the reason is that it is so common because there are people who don't appreciate the seriousness of the procedure itself and think it is a simple procedure.

Dr Hassan Galadari has spoken of the risks of cut-price cosmetic procedures at an Abu Dhabi conference.     
Dr Hassan Galadari spoke of the risks of cut-price cosmetic procedures at an Abu Dhabi conference

"The issue is that patients look at the bottom line, which is the price. They don’t look at the person’s background, experience and credentials.”

He said he was also aware of a number of cases in which people developed gangrene or necrosis.

Local doctors are flabbergasted by the horror stories they hear

Dr Hassan Galadari

Hundreds of millions of dirhams are spent on cosmetic procedures in the UAE each year, with liposuction and breast augmentation being the most popular.

In 2017, the Ministry of Health and Prevention warned of a rise in the numbers of back-street beauticians offering unlicensed services for a fraction of the price charged by regulated clinics.

In May, Dubai's health regulator launched an urgent investigation after a young Emirati woman fell into a coma after routine nose surgery.

The patient suffered significant brain damage after doctors at First Med Day Surgery Centre Dubai failed to spot a rapid drop in her blood pressure.

Officials from the Dubai Health Authority said an initial investigation revealed malpractice by the surgeon, identified by the initials SH, and anaesthetist, SE.

The centre in Muraqqabat in Deira was ordered to stop conducting any surgeries until the investigation is complete.

Updated: September 10, 2019 04:30 AM


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