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Sunday, 6 January, 2002, 00:03 GMT
Sun, sea, sand and scalpel
Dr Dirk Lazarus
Dr Lazarus offers cosmetic surgery at competitive rates
By Joanna Ross in Cape Town

Cape Town is expecting an unprecedented number of visitors over the festive season this year, with estimates of three million tourists.

Amongst them are those who desire a holiday with a difference and wish to go home with more than a tan.

In London this would have cost me 200 here it is the equivalent of 45 and I am having a great holiday

Cosmetic surgery patient
Taking advantage of the favourable dollar/pound exchange rate to the South African rand and excellent medical facilities here, tourists are opting for cosmetic surgery combined with a holiday.

Surgeons and their team will arrange a package for you that will include rest and recuperation, ensuring that by the time you go home you will feel a million dollars, without having spent it.

Lorraine Melvill is Managing Director of Surgeon and Safari, which provides personalised programmes of cosmetic surgery.

She has about 20 clients a month, largely from the UK, who come and stay in a top Cape Town hotel, have their chosen operation, recuperate by the pool and then go off on a safari.

She told BBC News Online: "Many of our face lift ladies feel quite shy of the bruising at first, but once they realise they don't know anyone here they go off in sunglasses and a hat and have a wonderful time."

Web access

Some local plastic surgeons are using the internet as a method of reaching potential overseas clients.

It allows photos to be assessed in advance and email follow up on surgical procedures.

Mount Nelson Hotel
Patients stay at the Mount Nelson Hotel
Dr Dirk Lazarus has clients from the Far East, Saudi Arabia, Germany, USA and Angola.

His most common requests are for breast augmentation, liposuction and what he calls facial rejuvenation surgery.

He said: "It includes a whole lot of aspects to enhance appearances and make the face look younger.

"Anything from moving the brows up, eradicating lines, a cheek lift or treating the neck or jowls."

Dr Lazarus has rooms in central Cape Town, handy for major hotels and shops.

In his waiting room I spoke to Adam and John (not their real names) who had just popped into the surgery for botox injections in their foreheads and eye areas, prior to spending the afternoon at the beach.

Botox injections

Botox is a form of the toxin produced by the bacterium which causes botulism, which, when injected into the skin reduces muscle spasm, and thus the appearance of wrinkles.

The procedures that I do tend to be simple and safe to try and minimise the risk

Dr Dirk Lazarus
"In London this would have cost me 200" Adam explained. "Here it is the equivalent of 45 and I am having a great holiday. I am thinking of coming back next year for something more serious."

Cape Town has a great deal to offer tourists, especially at this time of the year. With near perfect weather guaranteed, beautiful beaches, vineyards, mountains, golf courses galore, great restaurants and shopping there is plenty to occupy the recovering patient.

But there are dangers associated with travelling overseas for surgery of this kind.

Dr Lazarus identifies two main problems, lack of follow-up and "economy class syndrome" or deep vein thrombosis.

He said: "The procedures that I do tend to be simple and safe to try and minimise the risk.

"We will give them advice when they go home, such as taking aspirin, wearing stockings if they need to, encourage them to drink fluids, avoid alcohol and to exercise on the plane."

The issue of follow-up means that patients will have to consult a local surgeon, should a problem develop once they have returned home - at local fee levels.

But with the cost of surgery approximately a quarter of the cost of that in UK and 10 days luxury hotel accommodation plus a safari working out at about the equivalent of just the operation cost at home, for many seeking a new look, Cape Town's rewards outweigh the risks.

See also:

12 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
S Korea's cosmetic surgery boom
24 Jul 00 | Africa
SA plastic surgery web auction
01 May 00 | Health
Plastic surgery boom
08 Aug 01 | Health
Most women 'want plastic surgery'
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