Lebanon's men like cosmetic surgery too but like to keep it secret
By Anne-Beatrice Clasmann Oct 21, 2010, 4:06 GMT
Beirut - The nose of a Greek statue; a stomach flat as it was in one's youth. In Lebanon plastic surgery is the answer to the beauty needs of not only women, but men as well. The difference is, men don't like to admit they've gone under the knife to have their faults corrected.
When two women haven't seen each other in a while, they usually ask each other a very basic question: 'How are you?'
In the Mediterranean city of Beirut where young and old worship beauty, ladies who haven't seen each other in a while often greet each other with a slightly different twist on that question. 'Did you have your nose done?' they might ask, or 'My, but you look like you've lost weight.'
In a country that prizes physical appearance as much as the people of Brazil's high society, men increasingly are taking advantage of plastic surgery to maintain an ideal look. While women talk about their surgeries openly, men try to keep them secret.
'Don't dare ask me what I want here,' said an elegant 40-something with a long hairstyle approaching Dr Elias Chamas' clinic in the hills above Beirut. With his chauffeur scuttling hastily after him, the man took a seat in a waiting room full of female patients. Eventually, he disappeared into an examination room.
'In 10 patients who come to us, there is now an average of three men,' said Chamas, the surgeon who owns the clinic. The 62-year-old who specializes in noses can understand why men want to do more for their looks.
'Having cosmetic surgery has a lot to do with psychology,' he said. 'When a person is not satisfied with themselves, he or she simply has the need to change something.'
He has never had plastic surgery himself. 'Why should I do that? I looked at myself two hours ago in the mirror while I was shaving and found that I still look good,' he said. But like many Lebanese men, he regularly has his hair trimmed and gets a manicure.
Most men who go to a plastic surgeon in Lebanon want a middle European or Greek nose, rather than an Arabian proboscis. Many also have a little liposuction to remove tummy flab while they are in the clinic. The number of men who have face lifts to rid themselves of wrinkles on their faces is lower.
'Women often come to me with photos of models or famous singers and say they want to look like them,' said Chamas. 'I tell them not to come to me, but to pray to St Theresa.' Male customers are far more realistic. 'No man has ever turned up here and declared that he wants to have George Clooney's hair.'
Occasionally, Lebanese married couples go into the clinic together to have cosmetic surgery with the goal of a fuller bosom for her and an elegant nose for him.
Most of the customers who go to the clinics in and around Beirut are Lebanese, but Arabs from the Gulf states and foreigners with Lebanese roots who have settled in the US or Europe also schedule surgeries, partly because it's cheaper there than in their home countries.
Official estimates place the number of cosmetic surgeries carried out annually in the country at 1.5 million. That's an impressive number considering the country's population is only about 4 million. Among male patients, television presenters, actors and businessmen have their appearance surgically enhanced most frequently.
However, young men who want to get married also consider having their nose straightened before hiring a photographer to record their wedding.
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