Cosmetic surgery puts new face on Lebanon

November 11, 2010

By Heather Murdock-The Washington Times

BEIRUT | “Congratulations,” said Dr. Edward Abdulnour, as he gave his 33-year-old patient a quick pat on the shoulder.

The patient, a Lebanese woman, appeared to be smiling because her lips were red and swollen. After having her lips enlarged, her face lifted and her nose narrowed, she looked too groggy from anesthesia to smile.

The doctor whisked out of the room, leaving his assistant to wrap thick gauze bandages around her newly stapled head.

Plastic surgery has long been popular in this city, known for wild parties, beautiful people and political instability. In the past few years of relative calm, it also has become one of the country’s hottest tourist attractions.

“Lebanon is a destination in this field,” said Mona Faris, head of promotions at the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism.

Plastic surgeons say between 20 percent and 40 percent of their patients are cosmetic tourists. Most come to Lebanon come from Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan. But doctors say they are now getting more patients from the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia.

The biggest draw to Lebanon is the price. Operations often cost half as much in Lebanon as they do in Europe or the U.S., according to Dr. Roland Tohme of the Beirut Beauty Clinic, a cosmetic surgery center that caters to tourists. A nose job that costs between $5,000 and $7,000 in the U.S. or Europe can cost $2,000 in Lebanon, he said.

“They come to spend their vacation,” said Dr. Tohme, “and they do their operation.”

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