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Plastic Surgery in the Arab World—Things are Changing

posted on: Jul 28, 2021

Plastic Surgery in the Arab World—Things are Changing
Fairouz, A popular singer that normalized getting a nose job.

By Waverly Nohr/ Arab America contributing writer

In the Arab World, women and men have been pursuing plastic surgery since the 1960s. This has had an enormous effect on how teens and young adults view the standards of beauty. In today’s day and age, many plans on getting appearance-altering procedures at a young age. According to Arabian Business, a Dove survey revealed that “37% of Arab girls between the ages of 15 and 17 would consider cosmetic surgery in the near future.”  In this article, the Arab World will be explored by looking at what role plastic surgery plays in everyday culture, and how societal norms have changed since the initial boom of plastic surgery in the region. 

The Big Players? –Dubai and Lebanon

Lebanon is one country that has an incredibly successful cosmetic industry. According to Scoop Empire, “It has even been nicknamed the “Mecca” of plastic surgery. According to Lebanese experts in the field, 1.5 million operations are done per year. That’s a huge number considering the country’s population is 4 million people.” A newspaper from Dubai, “The National”, reported that Dubai employed more plastic surgeons than any other place on Earth.  

Plastic surgery has been deeply embedded into Middle Eastern culture to alter features that are different from what is thought of as “conventional beauty” and what is portrayed in the media. More than ever before, young people are considering plastic surgery for many of their facial and body features. By doing something as small as undergoing lip injections, the norms and beauty standards are changing. While Botox previously has been used after wrinkles start to appear in people, acting like an age rewind, people now are getting Botox pre-wrinkles. This is both a costly act and one that takes dedication over decades, especially if people start Botox in their 20’s, which is what many are doing today. 

Beauty standards have always been here, pressuring young people to succumb to what is “beautiful.” The pressure has definitely increased since the rise of social media. With filters, many people can alter their appearance seamlessly. On the screen at least. And while talking about altering appearance, makeup is undoubtedly one tool that is huge in Middle Eastern culture.

Is it, in fact, a generational thing?

Nevertheless, thoughts about plastic surgery have shifted from generation to generation. In the Middle East, there has been a surge in the popularity of clean beauty as well as an approach used called “smart aging”.

An example of this generational shift can be seen in the singer and sensation, Sabah. In her young adulthood, she looked natural even though she did apply makeup and was always known to be done up. As she aged, she remained looking younger than she was and this was due to the many procedures she underwent. According to the Gulf News, another celebrity, Fairouz made it acceptable to get a rhinoplasty, otherwise known as a nose job. Setting the bar so high in terms of a perfect appearance, more stars and everyday people are saving up for cosmetic procedures. 

Plastic Surgery in the Arab World—Things are Changing
Sabah in 2007 when she was 80 years old. Credit: Independent

So, what’s happening nowadays?

There may be evidence of Arab culture shifting away from Botox and anti-aging procedures. Skincare is bigger now than ever before and almost everyone has a particular routine. Whether it be a two-step or 15-step skincare routine, there are products that can effectively combat aging. Some of these include retinol, moisturizer, and sunscreen. With more and more promotions for anti-aging campaigns like the one below, plastic surgery does not have to be the only option for taking care of your appearance. 

The increasing popularity of tummy tucks and procedures involving your body rather than just facial features shows a generational change. Taking preventative aging measures is safer and less expensive and so maybe that is where the future is going. It doesn’t look like the Arab world is truly turning away from being the cosmetic surgery hub, but there has been more awareness in smart aging and the topic of cosmetic surgery is much less taboo than it was in the 1980s. 

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