Gaza women have dimple surgery to brighten their smiles

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GAZA CITY (AFP) – When Shoruk Shaheen looks in the mirror, she likes what she sees, especially the change in her face after an increasingly popular cosmetic procedure in Gaza: dimpling surgery.

The resident of the Palestinian enclave – who wore white shoes with a Dior logo and held a counterfeit Louis Vuitton bag – underwent the procedure a month ago at a clinic in downtown Gaza.

“If you have a beautiful smile, then you are a beautiful person,” said the 26-year-old communications manager, whose eyes remained fixed on her mirror as she admired the new indentation on her left cheek.

Dimple-creating surgery is performed around the world but has a special appeal in Gaza, thanks to its low cost and relative safety.

Costly and riskier procedures are problematic in Gaza, a deeply impoverished territory with a weak health system.

Creating an artificial dimple is “very simple, very easy, very fast” and involves little risk, Shaheen’s surgeon Jalaa El Talmas told AFP.

Palestinian plastic surgeon Jalaa el-Talmas shows off the newly created dimple on Shoruk Shaheen’s face at his Gaza City clinic on November 30, 2021 (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

While performing the procedure, which only takes 10 minutes, Talmas said he applied a local anesthetic to the cheek and mouth before making a slight incision in the zygomatic muscle that runs from the cheekbone to the the mouth.

Talmas said he performs the dimple procedure for several young women per month, most of whom request it after seeing the results on a friend of a relative.

“They think it makes the girl more attractive, when she laughs, when she talks she becomes more attractive,” he said of his clients.

‘No problem’

Talmas, who has worked overseas, said he believed the procedure was more popular among Gazans than other Arab women in the Middle East.

Women in Gaza became aware of this thanks to those who had traveled to Egypt and the Gulf, doctors said.

It costs between US $ 30-45 per cheek, compared to thousands in some western clinics.

Shaheen started off with just her left cheek, but said she was planning on doing the other side.

Besides being cheap, creating cosmetic dimples doesn’t attract the sneers that a procedure like breast implants would trigger in a conservative Islamist-ruled society.

Dimples “are not a problem,” Shaheen said, explaining that the procedure does not invite social stigma.

At the Victoria Beauty Center, which overlooks a park in Gaza City with rows of manicured palm trees, Dr Hassan Ali Aljaish told AFP he saw no problem with a procedure that brought “some happiness “to women living in a society full of difficulties.

Aljaish, who has been practicing cosmetic and reconstructive surgery since 2018, said he typically receives around 30 requests per month for dimpling.

While conceding that this was a growing trend, he cautioned against the impression that “Gazans undergo (cosmetic) operations every day”.

The creation of dimples and other cosmetic procedures, “may alleviate the suffering” of life in Gaza, “but we must not forget that this (suffering) exists,” said Aljaish, whose practice is primarily aimed at Palestinians. in need of reconstructive surgery after being injured during hostilities between Hamas and Israel.

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