First cosmetic surgery clinic opened in Afghanistan

Attractive woman with dark complexionAfghanistan’s first ever cosmetic surgery clinic has opened in Kabul – marking what some see as a huge change in Afghan society. The country’s newly emerging middle-class women – and many men – are flocking to the clinic for nose jobs, eyelid lifts, tummy tucks, breast lifts and other procedures.“People here want to look beautiful just like people everywhere,” said Dr Daud Nazari, 39, one of the clinic’s two plastic surgeons. “We are very busy. We can hardly keep up with demand. “Some people save their salaries for months to get whatever bothers them about their appearance fixed. For a long time Afghan women have been told what to wear, how to look, how to act. This is a way of expressing their freedom and individuality.” Dr Nazari charges around $450 for a nose job and $350 for a tummy tuck, almost a tenth of the price in the U.S. Located up a dusty stairwell in the western part of the capital, the clinic has only one operating room and a few cramped recovery areas. The most popular operations are nose and eyelid surgery. Leslie Knott, a Canadian photographer and filmmaker, has been documenting the clinic’s female patients. She says typical customers are mothers who bring their daughters to correct their “imperfections” in the hope of procuring a higher bride price, and young women in their twenties who have fled abusive marriages and want surgery to boost their self-esteem. Some Afghans have expressed their disapproval of the new trend, said Knott: “Some people think cosmetic surgery is shallow. They say things like ‘Is this what our sons died for?’ But nobody can dictate what freedom looks like – if women want to change their appearance by having surgery, then that’s their choice.”