Dubai has become a focal point for cosmetic surgery thanks, in large part, to the successful rebroadcasting of such reality TV shows as Dr. 90210 throughout the Middle East. While many US cosmetic surgeons frequently make sojourns to Dubai to help keep pace with increasing demand, Hassan Galadari, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at the United Arab Emirates University in Dubai, is a local dermatologist who maintains a thriving cosmetic practice together with his father at Galadari Derma Clinic in Dubai. Trained in the US, Galadari graduated from the Boston University/Tufts University dermatology program and completed a cosmetic dermatology fellowship in the University of California, San Francisco. He is licensed by the medical board of California.
Galadari spoke to Beauty in the Bag about his practice, his beliefs about beauty, and what men and women in Dubai really want out of cosmetic surgery. Here’s what he had to say:
How do you define beauty?
Beauty is not an easy thing to define. The way I look at it though, it is anything that makes you feel good, whatever senses it might entice. If a cologne makes you feel good, then its beautiful. If you’re on a vacation and you feel good, then without knowing where you have been, I can tell that you’re in a beautiful place. Beauty’s definition is different from one person to the other and I sincerely believe it is in the eye of the beholder. A computer engineer can see the code and would consider it beauty, while an architect may be fascinated by a structure such as the Burj Khalifa and see it as beautiful. There are, however, universal definitions of beauty, where a majority can see the beauty of a person, place or thing.
What is your signature procedure?
I enjoy performing minimally invasive procedures such as injectables. Fillers (and toxins to a lesser extent) have this instant gratification going for them, where patients can literally see the transformation in front of them. When done right, you can chip away time and that person looks at least five years younger. The trick is to never do too much that others can see what you’ve done. I tell patients that anyone can inject, but the right doctor will inject in such a way where no one can tell that anyone has had anything done.
So what do the people of Dubai really want when they pursue cosmetic surgery?
Women and men want to look good and naturally by doing so, feel good. The major thing that women want in this part of the world is for clear, smooth skin. Given that people here are of type 4-5 skin, there are some pigmentary discrepancies and women want to have a unified skin tone. The fair skinned individuals want to tan and the naturally tanned, want to be fairer. This is about the same anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately people are never too comfortable in their natural skin.
Do any of these ideals really come from reality shows like Dr. 90210 as the US media has alleged?
Media greatly affects people’s perceptions about beauty. Not so much reality shows, but the media in general. I have witnessed this change as time went by. At first, people ridiculed cosmetic procedures, now they have become much more accepting of them. Unfortunately, the “made up” look is still a thing. You could say it has become akin to social status. Women would assume that they wear a Rolex watch, a Hermes Birkin bag, and naturally a bit of Botox and some filler in the lips.
What does male plastic surgery in Dubai look like?
As for men, since beards are a big thing here in Dubai and the Middle East in general, laser hair removal to define the beard line is extremely popular. From all procedures, men seem to start with this first and then perhaps move on to other procedures such as peels and neuromodulators once they’re comfortable.
A lot of US doctors fly into Dubai and provide plastic surgery. Does this affect your practice?
There is no major problem when that happens, but it does become an issue when complications arise and naturally they do, no matter how good the doctor is. Out of principle, and this is something I learned during my training, is that I never touch other people’s blunders, because patients have a way of associating you with it even though your intention is to help. In the cosmetic field, patient loyalty and satisfaction is key. There should be a lot of hand holding and TLC all the time and especially when things go wrong. Visiting doctors do not provide that. They come, perform the procedure and are gone. People are drawn in out of the allure of being injected by an American doctor, though the local talent may be better or even “American” or “Western” trained. I never consider such doctors as competition. A good doctor will draw his patients even if there are other doctors around him. Just look at NYC. There is practically a cosmetic dermatology office every other block on the Upper East Side.
How did you get started in the beauty business?
One might say I was exposed to the world of dermatology at a young age, since my father is also a very well established dermatologist here in Dubai. I’ve always had this friendly and silent competition with him. I always wanted to be a step better and only my mother realized that. I thought, what better way to do so than at his own game and his own field?
The reason why I got into cosmetic dermatology is because I enjoyed seeing the beauty in everything. I would stare at a car and attempt to get into the designer’s head and think what he or she were thinking to come up with this. The same would go for a painting, a house, even watches and bags. I always tried to make sense of the design and see the beauty there.
What sets you apart from others in your space?
I like to think that I appreciate natural beauty. I find it an extra challenge to perform a procedure on a patient and make them look good, feel good, yet not have others see them and tell that they’ve had something done. That’s the challenge and I really enjoy it. I avoid and have turned down patients who want that extra filler in their lips because I do not want to be the doctor who’s made those duck lips or high cheeks. It’s never been about the money. I’m also a perfectionist and I’m hard on myself when it comes to what I do.
Are any procedures especially challenging?
The challenge is not really the procedure but the outcome. It’s a challenge to create something that can be looked at and considered to be natural. There are certain procedures where the margin of error is tighter and those areas involve the lips and the area underneath the eye. Being overzealous in those areas can change the person entirely.
Who is your beauty inspiration?
I would say the world. Earth. Nature. God is the most inspirational designer out there when it comes to beauty. You look at things in nature and you can’t help but feel inspired. The arid desert, the ragged mountains, the forest and the water. You look at these things and the way all the elements in a given frame gel together in harmony, you cannot help but feel in awe. I try to focus on that with my work. I want the eyes to be in harmony with the mouth and ears in the landscape of the face.
What is your beauty mantra?
“God is beautiful and He loves beauty.” Each person has a natural beauty inside them and sometimes you need to make that person look beautiful in order for them to achieve their hidden potential. This is not superficial thinking. This is the truth that has been proven many times in research in psychology and the way people view themselves. People who deny that, deny science and the human element.
Why do you love what you do?
I don’t see what I do as work. If you enjoy it so much, then it stops being that. I find it quite fulfilling. I work with my father and see him everyday so it becomes an extension of family. I enjoy interacting with people, knowing them, and helping them. What I find even more important is that imprint you leave behind when your interaction concludes. There is a saying that when a person passes on, only three things remain: an ongoing charity, knowledge where people benefit, and good people’s thought of you. I would like to leave in good graces and to touch as many people as possible.