In a country where most women cover up from head to toe, it’s hard to believe that a thriving cosmetic surgery market could even exist. However, recent reports from marketing experts in Saudi Arabia reveal that thousands of women are lining up at the doctor’s office to pursue rhinoplasty, breast implants and anti-aging procedures. While some citizens of the country do believe that cosmetic procedures violate Islamic principles because they involve “changing God’s creation”, there are some exceptions where cosmetic surgery may be appropriate.
Plastic surgery centers in Saudi Arabia are catering to those who need a cosmetic fix after a serious accident or injury, and the majority of men and women going under the knife aren’t doing out of vanity. However, this does not mean that residents of the country don’t care about their looks. When women are traveling abroad or spending time at home with their husbands and family, they are permitted to remove their hijab – the black covering that they must wear in public – and often wear figure-flattering designer clothes. Couples that travel abroad also make up a part of the population that may invest a significant amount of money and time to look their best.
While reports do show that cosmetic and plastic surgery is booming in Saudi Arabia and other markets in the Middle East, doctors are still relatively conservative with what types of procedures they will perform, and for what reasons. Citizens of these countries who are denied treatment from a Saudi-based surgeon may consider traveling overseas to the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom to get their procedure. However, in many social circles, attempts to alter one’s natural physical features may be frowned upon because it affirms the idea that men and women need to look like celebrities or achieve an ‘ideal’, instead of accepting what nature has given them.