Cosmetic surgery boom hits Morocco
By Sarah Touarhi for Magharebia in Rabat -- 08/12/06
Cosmetic surgery is booming in Morocco. Specialists in the field are delighted with the progress already made after just a few years of business, thanks to Moroccans' infatuation with beauty. Practices in Europe and the United States are taking root in Morocco.
According to plastic surgeon Ramzy Rachid, Morocco is seeing a growing number of clients. The majority of practices have seen the number of patients double or even triple over the last few years. "Many patients come to us for simple size reductions," Rachid says. He says 60% to 70% of cosmetic surgery patients are younger than 40. "We are a long way from the average age of the past, which was sixty years. There's no typical profile."
The consumer "ends up being influenced by new images and techniques shown constantly on television. Cosmetic surgery has become a solution for many people. In the past, it was restricted to the elite. Today it has become accessible to people from all layers of society," Sociologist Abou al Mahacine Ali says.
Prices in Morocco are within reach for many in the country. In fact, prices do not follow any set rule -- with no fixed prices, patients can haggle. The same operation will cost one patient twice what it costs another.
Liposuction can cost from 10,000 to 40,000 dirhams, a breast implant from 20,000 to 30,000 dirhams. Lift surgery prices start at 25,000 dirhams. A face and neck lift will cost between 25,000 and 35,000 dirhams. Cosmetic surgery to eyelids is from 8,000 to 12,000 dirhams. A new nose costs between 5,000 and 15,000 dirhams. Hair transplants go for between 6,000 to 10,000 dirhams per session.
According to Dr. Ahmed Bourra, a pioneer in hair transplants in Morocco, these prices are not inflated. "Certainly, people on the minimum wage cannot dream of cosmetic surgery. But some people can have cosmetic procedures thanks to credit."
Morocco has also become a destination for medical tourism. Westerners use have their procedures done in the country because of low prices and the discretion of being abroad. Tour companies are increasingly offering packages that include cosmetic surgery.
Morocco is starting to train specialists who are heading out to the smaller towns or country areas to practise cosmetic surgery and surgical dermatology. Funding, however, is a problem. Insurance companies consider cosmetic operations a luxury, and do no pay for these procedures.
Still, in the university hospitals of Rabat and Casablanca, officials are starting to show an interest in the sector. The two university hospitals have a plastic and cosmetic surgery centre, a burns unit and a cosmetic dermatology centre.
Professor Fahd Benslimane says that patients are not always warned of the risks, and it is not always possible to improve certain imperfections. "Ethics require the doctor to be frank with his patient, who must be informed that cosmetic surgery is carried out principally to improve their condition, but other imperfections may appear."
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