The latest “8-point filler” or “vampire” facelift might seem like the perfect quick fix to the drooping and wrinkling that comes with age.
But when it comes to finding the right doctor to help slow the march of time, aesthetically speaking, those who offer handy marketing tools with catchy names and one-size-fits-all approaches are not the best way to go, says Dr David Alessi.
“Most people who do that are lower-level providers,” says the Beverly Hills-based plastic surgeon and otolaryngologist (a specialist in diseases of the ear and throat), who has completed more than 16,000 surgeries.
With fillers, for example, a good practitioner will carefully examine the patient’s particular needs before beginning treatment.
“Some people need more in their temple, some people need more in their cheek area,” he says. “Everybody looks different.” In other words, “if you have a hammer, then the whole-world-is-a-nail approach” produces a very obvious result.
Alessi uses obviously enhanced American actor Mickey Rourke as an example.
“You don’t want to do a cookie-cutter approach,” he says. “As a consumer, you need to really look at quality, because things evolve quickly in medicine – but not that quickly. Ninety per cent of things that happen are not true innovations, they’re just clever marketing.”
Recently, Alessi – who this year commented on former Olympian and reality-TV star Caitlyn Jenner’s plastic surgery, and is regularly quoted talking about celebrities in The New York Post’s Page Six column – started spending one week every two months working in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
He puts the decision down to a love of travel (he and wife Deborah are up to five Maldives trips and counting) and requests by patients from the region – including royalty – who have been travelling to his Los Angeles clinic for the last 15 years.
Alessi has partnered with Medical Park Consultants in Abu Dhabi and also carries out consultations in Dubai.
So far his main requests in the UAE have been for rhinoplasty – the ever-popular nose job, either done through surgery or using fillers – and facial rejuvenation, whether through non-invasive methods or surgical facelifts.
He also uses lasers, fat-dissolvers to tackle double chins, and a form of radio frequency called Thermage to tone and tighten, which he finds to be more effective than Ultherapy, another popular treatment that stimulates collagen using ultrasound waves.
He says: “I treat a lot of people you see on TV and in the movies [in the United States] who said they’ve never had anything done [but] have had things done.”
A tailored, less-is-more approach to a natural look does not always go down well with demanding clients.
“I had a patient who came in and said: ‘I want a vampire lift,’” says Alessi. The patient was referring to what they thought was a brand-new combination of laser treatments, followed by injections of platelet-rich plasma created from the patient’s own blood, to promote quicker healing.
“I said: ‘That’s exactly what we do – we’ve been doing it for a year,’” he says. “It’s ridiculous.”
• Dr David Alessi will next be in the UAE for three days from December 18. A consultation costs Dh918. Call Medical Park Consultants, Abu Dhabi, on 02 304 8888