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Beauty is essential for Lebanese, despite crisis

Beauty, body shape and cosmetic surgery remain a priority for Lebanese women in the war-torn country.

fashion and trends Updated: Apr 23, 2007 19:33 IST

Although Lebanon has been reeling under the worst political and economic crisis since the end of the Lebanese civil war, beauty, body shape and cosmetic surgery remain a priority for Lebanese women.

The success of the industry has prompted a Lebanese bank to put up billboards across the country to announce that they would be giving loans for plastic surgery.

The billboards are posted all over the capital, even in Beirut's southern suburbs, a hotbed of the Islamist Hezbollah movement.

First National Bank's "Plastic Surgery Loan" can provide between $1,000 and $5,000 to cover "all your plastic surgery operations", according to the bank's website.

According to its marketing manager George Nasr, "Lebanese love to beautify themselves, and we are opening this door for them through such loans".

Nasr said the bank's clients included people who were disfigured by accidents or who simply wanted to improve the way they looked.

"There is a great demand for this loan, and our clerks have been busy receiving hundreds of calls to get information about the loan," he added.

The news of the loan has travelled across Lebanon. According to plastic surgeon Elias Chamas, the demand for physical perfection in Lebanon has increased since the billboards were posted.

Chamas insisted that Lebanon's cosmetic surgery market has been steadily expanding over the past five years, with demand rising for procedures like rhinoplasty, liposuction, collagen implants and injections of Botox - a toxin to remove wrinkles.

"Five years ago only rich ladies and women from the rich Gulf states could afford such operations. Today we are receiving various customers from all class levels," Chamas said.

"Lebanese women are known to be seekers of beauty and fashion, so they always follow the latest trends in everything, even cosmetic surgery," said another surgeon, George Abu Fadel.

He said: "The most popular operations among the Lebanese are nose jobs, liposuction, Botox and filling.

"A lot of 18 to 22-year-old women who only earn $500-$600 a month want to do liposuction in the hips, because they want to wear low-rise jeans, but usually they do not have the money. Now with this loan they can afford it."

He added that even the number of male patients had increased after the advertisement, especially men who want nose jobs.

Lebanese doctors believe that Lebanese women and men both love luxury and the good life and that is why they are ignoring all the political and economic hardships to improve their looks.

"Whether there is instability or economic hardship, the Lebanese people want to stay beautiful. They love life," Abu Fadel said.

First Published: Apr 23, 2007 18:23 IST