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“The general stigma attached to cosmetic surgery as a privilege for the rich and famous is disappearing. Moreover, men are becoming more aware of their looks, with many opting for plastic surgery to improve their looks,"

Walter Erhardt

Finance Week

 

PLASTIC SURGERY

Mom, I want to be a pretty boy

It’s official – men are just as vain as women. And if you can afford it, why not go for a cut and a tuck to make you look younger?

WOMEN are usually the ones to opt for wrinkle fixes, liposuction and facelifts, right?

Wrong.

More than a million American men underwent cosmetic plastic surgery in 2000, accounting for 14% of these operations. And though the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS) does not have the latest figures available, the society’s president Walter Erhardt said there can be no doubting the trend.

"The statistics confirm what we see in our practices. The general stigma attached to cosmetic surgery as a privilege for the rich and famous is disappearing. Moreover, men are becoming more aware of their looks, with many opting for plastic surgery to improve their looks," he says.

Though in SA, mainly women opt for this type of beauty treatment, the number of male patients is on the increase. As in the US, cosmetic operations on men are mainly nose and eyelid jobs. They also have hair transplants and undergo liposuction to remove fat.

Dr Tom Ford, secretary of the Association of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery of SA (APRSSA), says many people have unrealistic expectations of plastic surgery.

"It’s important for people to be realistic about their physical image, for we cannot perform miracles. That’s why surgeons must first discuss the matter with prospective patients. A plastic surgeon makes a living from performing operations. But he builds his reputation on not performing operations."

Ford says he regularly turns away people not suited to an operation.

APRSSA was formed in 1956 and has over 120 members today. Ford says that SA unfortunately does not have the same type of statistics as the US because SA law prohibits publicising details of an operation.

The fact is that people, especially men, are getting used to the idea of plastic surgery. The next time your boss returns from holiday saying it’s the fresh Cape sea air and sunshine that made him look so young, take it with a pinch of salt.

Surgery safari

EVER since Chris Barnard performed the first heart transplant, SA physicians have ranked among the world’s best. That fact and the rand’s weak exchange rate against other currencies draw droves of foreigners to the country for plastic surgery.

Dr Tom Ford, secretary of the Association of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery of SA (APRSSA), says SA’s plastic surgery is the talk of the town overseas. "In the past 18 months, I have been approached by 11 institutions that want to bring foreign patients here."

But he warns that an Internet consultation on plastic surgery is not recommended. It’s important to make personal contact with a surgeon.

Interest has accelerated to such an extent that some SA surgeons make regular trips overseas to visit prospective patients. What was formerly the province of only the well heeled is now within the grasp of even the middle class. Plastic surgery in SA can sometimes cost as little as a third of what it would in the UK and the US.

Several institutions combine the option of surgery with SA’s natural beauty and bring overseas visitors to SA for a facelift and a safari. Just type [ITALS]"scalpel safari in SA"[ITALS OFF] into an Internet search engine and a range of Web pages come up.

Lorraine Melvill is the driving force behind the Web page www.surgeon-and-safari.co.za which, in collaboration with the Orient Express Group, offers overseas visitors a package deal including: world-class surgery and medical facilities, followed by a recuperative holiday at one of SA’s tourist attractions. Melvill says the Web page gets 3 000 hits a day and most of the interest comes from the UK.

She says overseas visitors are cosseted in the best hotels and resorts, such as the Westcliff in Johannesburg and the Mount Nelson in Cape Town, in the vicinity of the clinic or hospital where the procedure has been done.

Melvill says privacy is of paramount importance: "Our patients can tell their friends they are coming to SA for a safari and when they return, everyone will say how good they are looking, without their having to reveal the truth."

Visit the APRSSA Web page for a list of registered plastic surgeons in SA: www.plasticsurgeons.co.za

 

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