Can cosmetic surgery make you happier? If so, when? And when will it not work? How can you tell? What are the warning signs that almost guarantee you won’t be any happier when the scars heal? Words by Tamara Pitelen.
About 20 years ago, cosmetic surgery was on the outskirts of acceptable society but it’s very quickly gone from something available only to the very rich and very vain, to slap bang in the middle of mainstream society to the point that it’s now almost unusual if you haven’t had some kind of cosmetic procedure be it anything from Botox and fillers to laser hair removal or a breast enlargement.
For the holistic community, this can bring quite a moral dilemma. If you’re someone who spends time pursuing a deeper comprehension of and connection with the magnitude and intelligence of the universe, it may feel incongruous, even ridiculous, to also be concerned with the shape of your nose or fullness of your breasts. But still you are. Yes, you want to deepen your connection with Creator but you also want to get rid of your eye bags. So what to do with these feelings and beliefs?
Does cosmetic surgery ever have a justified place? Most people accept that it’s right to fix a unsightly deformity on a Nepalese child’s face with surgery yet if a woman wants a smaller nose or bigger breasts it’s not seen in the same light. However, if a woman with over-sized breasts that give her severe back pain wants a reduction, that’s ok. In fact the UK and US armies will pay for their female soldiers to have breast reductions if the breasts hamper their abilities to carry out their duties. And if a person who’s been disfigured in a fire or through an acid attack gets repair surgery, that’s ok too. Where is the line? Who draws it?
SURGERY AND SPIRITUALITY
Some would argue that cosmetic surgery is the manifestation of self- hate. In the 80s and 90s, the feminist movement viewed cosmetic surgery as another tool for oppressing women. The belief was that an anti-women patriarchal society was shoving women into a box that decreed they must not age and they must fulfill the male ideal of female beauty, which dictates large, perky breasts. The feminist view was that keeping women preoccupied and never happy with their appearance was an effective method of control and oppression. You can’t take over the world if you’re obsessing about the size of your thighs. It was the modern version of Chinese foot-binding and the neck-stretching rings worn by women in African societies.
It’s not only been the poster child of gender oppression, cosmetic surgery was also lambasted as a tool of racial oppression, for example, when Asian women went under the knife to get more Western-looking almond-shaped eyes.
Fast-forward to 2014 though and cosmetic surgery is being embraced by men and women of all cultures, social classes and walks of life. So what’s going on and can cosmetic surgery be aligned with a spiritual life based on the premise of self-love and acceptance? There’s never going to be across the board agreement on this and now there’s another angle to consider since the arrival on the scene of an energetic form of cosmetic surgery available through Pranic healing. It’s called energetic body sculpting and Pranic energy healing practitioners claim that they can give you fuller breasts or remove that double chin with just the power of energy healing.
See box out for more information on this but essentially it would suggest that the problem with traditional cosmetic surgery is the method not the end result. Who’s to say if Pranic body sculpting actually works but if it did, would that mean altering your body is ok as long as no knives are used? Or is it the permanence that’s the problem, in which case laser hair removal is ‘wrong’ but shaving or waxing is ‘ok’? Again, who makes that call?
The likelihood is that cosmetic surgery is here to stay and that it’s going to get ever more widespread as technology comes up with procedures beyond imagination as well as makes procedures that are currently difficult and costly, quick and cheap.
Doctors Maurizio and Roberto Viel are twin brothers and cosmetic surgeons who run a successful practice in Dubai Healthcare City. It’s no surprise that they see no moral dilemma in the decision to undertake a cosmetic procedure but it may come as a surprise to learn that the brothers do not believe it’s the answer for everybody; that they turn down about 10 per cent of the people who walk through their doors, and that they advocate a holistic approach to taking care of your appearance and wellbeing.
“We believe to have a holistic approach is important,” Dr Roberto says. “It’s not only surgery but it’s lifestyle, it’s good health, good nutrition, regular exercise… if you want to achieve good long lasting results, you also have to do your part. I
say to my patients, ‘I do my part, you do your part,’ so change your lifestyle, stop smoking, stop abusing alcohol, sleep more, leave off the junk food, all of that.”
Just in case you’re wondering, neither of the brothers has gone under the knife themselves but Maurizio does have Botox injections.
“Cosmetic surgery is part of a multi-issued approach. Our services are liposuction, facelift, breast augmentation, whatever, but you need also to see that it is a part of a more comprehensive approach to lifestyle changes,” Dr Roberto says.
The doctors say that the percentage of male clientele is rising fast. Currently, the breakdown is 70 per cent female to 30 per cent male. They say the most common procedures are, for women, liposuction and breast augmentation, followed by facial rejuvenation. For men, number one is also liposuction, mainly on the waistline and the chest, followed by facial rejuvenation in the way of eyelifts and nose jobs as well as penoplasty (penis enlargement).
The motivations for having the work are the same for both genders, Dr Roberto says.
“They want to improve something that they don’t feel is good for them or they want to look younger and better because of competition in the business world, competition in their profession, or because they will feel better if they look slightly younger. It is the same.”
According to Dr Maurizio, it generally comes down to people wanting to feel more confident.
“A lot of them are not fighting the aging process however they want to age gracefully. They want to age beautifully, in harmony with what they feel inside. They feel energetic, full of passion for life, they look at themselves and the outside does not reflect the inside and this brings internal fighting. So they want to put that on the same level. There are cases where people are fighting the aging process and they do everything and they go overboard, they exceed normal common sense but the majority of patients are sensible and balanced and have realistic expectations of what they want. They are not fighting the inevitable, they just want to feel better.”
Doctors MAURIZIO and ROBERTO VIEL run the London Centre for Aesthetic Surgery, they have offices in Dubai Healthcare City and London, UK.
LCAS Dubai: Tel: +971 4 375 2393 or email Gulf@LCAS.com
LCAS London: Tel: +44 207 636 4272 or email info@LCAS.com
IN DEFENCE OF COSMETIC SURGERY
Katrina Valente, Holistic beautician
Katrina Valente, age 47, is loud and proud about her cosmetic surgery. Is there a contradiction between her holistic principles and going under the knife? She doesn’t believe so…
“In a world of people obsessed with chasing after the youth drug, it’s hard not to get caught up in it. So what does a spiritual woman like you or me do when we decide that perhaps we’d like to have a little ‘work’ done? Should we love ourselves just the way we are because that’s what spirituality teaches us? Or is the anti- surgery movement just as judgmental as any other black or white belief system?
“Several years ago, I had breast augmentation surgery. It was my birthday presenttomyself. IdiditbecauseIdidn’tlike my bust and was tired of looking at myself. I did it because I live in a world where I could do something about it. Ten years later, I still think it’s one of the best things I ever did for myself. I’ve also being having Botox done for years.
“Having the surgery made me feel so much more confident and sexy and my new breasts better suit my frame so I am now in proportion. Is it wrong that altering a part of my body has made me feel more confident? Who’s to say? But it did.
“As a holistic therapist, I’ve had people tell me I’m a contradiction in terms. I’m told I should love myself exactly the way I am, as God made me. Didn’t God also make cosmetic surgery? Humans have been tweaking what God gave us for centuries. Men dye their hair and shave their faces while women colour their lips, paint their eyes and shave their legs. We put holes in our ears to hold jewellery, we have ink permanently etched into our skin as tattoos, and the hair removed our bodies.
“I am also an Aesthetician. My profession and livelihood is based on making the very best of your physical appearance because appearances counts. Within three seconds of meeting someone, we judge and are judged on appearances. I also believe your physicality is a manifestation of your spirit – an outer view of your inner world.
“Older women who inspire me are Jennifer Lopez, Susan Sarandon, Sophia Loren and Raquel Welch who, at 73, looks absolutely phenomenal. Has she had a facelift? Yes, a very good one. I imagine she still feels vibrant and alive and she wants her outer self to reflect that.
“I’m not saying cosmetic surgery is always a positive thing and I don’t believe it’s the be all and end all. Taking care of yourself isn’t about just physical looks. Other factors that come into play include nutrition, exercise, skincare, sleep, mental health care such as meditation for stress management, and more. If you’re smoking two packs a day and living on hamburgers then perhaps some self- reflection might be in order before you head off for liposuction.
“Ultimately, each person must take the call on which of the techniques offered by modern technology they would like to take advantage off in order to present the face to the world that they feel best reflects their inner self.”
Gail Clough, DJ
Gail Clough, age 48, had her first procedure at age 17, a nose job. Since then she’s had a total of five surgical procedures as well as ongoing non-invasive cosmetic work such as Botox, collagen and fillers.
“I love how I look now, I don’t plan to have any more surgery because I don’t need it, I’ve done everything I wanted doing. If I could go back in time and speak to my 17-year-old self I would encourage her to go ahead and have the surgery to reduce the size of her nose without any hesitation. It gave me so much more confidence; I’d always been self-conscious about my big honker.
“We live in a world where beauty and youth are commodities, just like intelligence or excellent management skills. We all want to put the very best versions of ourselves forward to get ahead in our careers or to find the best possible partner. Just like you might go back to university to do a Masters degree in order to get ahead at work, I see it as the same when you invest in your appearance through rejuvenation procedures or the altering of something you don’t like about your appearance. The most common client is a woman aged about 38 who’s had her children and just wants her body parts put back to where they were before the pregnancies and childbirth.
“The old arguments against cosmetic surgery just aren’t valid anymore. How can it be called anti-women with so many men having procedures? The percentage of men having surgery is rising faster than it is for women, men are having liposuction, hair transplants, Botox, penoplasty, eye and brow lifts…
“It’s not like the old days when a facelift was literally lifting your face! Today’s techniques are much more subtle and you can’t tell when it’s done properly, someone just does look like a better version of themselves. All the Hollywood actresses and models have had excellent work, this includes Jennifer Aniston, Naomi Campbell, Sharon Stone and Christie Turlington… they all look natural.
“It can be risky though. You have to be careful and do your homework. Don’t hurry into it, ask the right questions and even if you’re slightly unsure of the surgeons, go and see more clinics to talk to more doctors. And don’t think this is going to transform your life in every way, because you’ll be disappointed.”
SEVEN WARNING SIGNS THAT COSMETIC SURGERY WON’T MAKE YOU HAPPIER
When will cosmetic surgery make you happier and when will it not? Can you tell before the scalpel is wielded? This is where the warning signs come in, seven signs that practically guarantee you won’t be happy if you have cosmetic surgery. Doctors Maurizio and Roberto Viel reveal the signs that indicate cosmetic surgery is not the answer to your problems.
Warning sign 1: Doing the surgery for someone else
Let’s say a man prefers large-chested women and his wife is flat-chested. If she gets breast enlargements to please her husband she’ll probably end up feeling resentful and angry. “If you do the surgery to please someone else or to change your life, or the circumstances in life around you, that is probably not going to be a success,” Dr Maurizio says. “For me a warning light is if I see a patient and they say, ‘oh doctor I want to impress my husband’ or ‘I want to find a new husband’ or ‘I want to have a better social life because all my friends are 20 years younger than me…’ these are warning signs that expectations are not realistic. But if you get a patient who says, ‘I am not happy with the size of my breasts and I don’t feel comfortable and I can’t wear a nice evening gown,’ that’s ok, they will probably be happy with the surgery.”
Warning sign 2: Unrealistic expectations
“Sometimes we have to say no because of unrealistic expectations or because of psychological issues,” Dr Roberto says. “For example, if you want to look like someone else or if you want to go from size 16 to a size eight, that’s unrealistic. We need to have a proper and achievable goal so if you see this is not possible you must say, ‘sorry I cannot’.”
Warning sign 3: When a patient arrives with a photo of a celebrity
“When the patient comes with photos of some celebrity and they say, ‘I want this kind of body,’ or ‘I would like to have this kind of face.’ That is a bad, bad sign,”
Dr Roberto says. Again, expectations are unrealistic and probably extend beyond the appearance. Basically, the patient subconsciously wants to be the celebrity and yearns for a fantasy lifestyle.
Warning sign 4: Someone who wants drastic change without effort
“It’s a warning sign when a patient says, ‘Doctor, I don’t like to exercise, I love my food and I like to sleep, I don’t do anything but I want to look like Naomi Campbell and I am five sizes bigger than her…’,” Dr Maurizio says. “The patient needs to be ready to work on diet, nutrition and exercise.” Amazing change can be achieved in six months but not without teamwork between the doctor and patient.
Warning sign 5: The patient is having a life crisis
“If someone is in the middle of a divorce or grieving the death of a loved one, maybe their parent or partner has died, we probably won’t operate on them. We say, ‘take time to heal and come back to see us again in six months time if you still want this work’,” Dr Maurizio says.
Warning sign 6: Mental health issues
If a person has an obvious mental illness, perhaps they have depression or are in
a manic phase of bipolar disorder, it is obviously better not to operate.
Warning sign 7: The long-term user
If someone comes in who’s already had a number of surgical procedures but they’re still not happy, that’s a warning sign that what ails them can’t be fixed with more surgery, say the doctors. “These are the difficult patients; the patients who will never be happy because they try to find a solution to their problems in changing some body part. We try to avoid this kind of patient, we say, ‘the operation is not a solution for your problem’.”
Just when you thought you’d heard everything, Pranic healers are now offering an energetic version of cosmetic surgery.
Can energy healing give you a facelift? That’s what’s being offered by Pranic healers based in the UAE. One of the brochures reads ‘Facial Rejuvenation with Pure Raw Cosmic Energy! Get a fresh healthy glow, lessen lines, lessen wrinkles, firm and tone up your face with pure raw energy! No needles, no surgical procedures, no pills, no pain!’
That’s a very big claim, which will no doubt be met with a great deal of skepticism. For a start, how does it work? According to Pranic Energy Healer Harsini Wickramasuriya energy healing works on your invisible energy body or aura, which is the mould of your physical body and which controls the face you present to the world.
“If I can change the energy in your energy body then I can affect the physical body. All negative thought forms imprint on the face and in the body. By removing those and helping the client change their thinking and habits, results can be maintained,” says Wickramasuriya.
She goes on to say that by applying ancient energy healing technology to your face, all energy toxins are removed along with all old, used up and diseased energies. The face is energised and revitalised by adding new radiant cosmic energy. This process accelerates and rejuvenates the facial skin by quickening the renewal and regeneration of cells in the face thereby filling your face with light and lustre.
“Your face reflects your inner state. Energy healing not only remedies the physical and visible features of your face, but most importantly it aims at dissolving the emotional stresses that inevitably reveal themselves on your face in the form of physical imbalances.”
How long does it take? You’ll need a total of six sessions either twice a week or weekly for facial rejuvenation. A session lasts 90 minutes. Weight-loss and body sculpting takes eight sessions of two hours each and includes treating food cravings, guidance on how to do meditation, fitness and nutrition.
Curious? Want to try some energetic body sculpting?
Pranic healer Harsini Wickramasuriya discount! is offering a six-session facial rejuvenation package for AED 2,400. Or, pay AED 4,800 for an eight-session weight loss and body sculpting package. Call 050-5857154 or email email@example.com