In this file photo, an Iraqi woman gets an injection at the "Barbie Clinic" in Baghdad on June 2, 2015, in a sign that cosmetic surgeries are becoming more popular in Iraq that has long been plagued by extremism and terrroism. (Reuters photo)
BAGHDAD, May 16 (Xinhua) -- It might be strange to hear that cosmetic surgeries are on the rise in a country like Iraq, which has been plagued by extremism and terrorism for many years.
But it is true that more and more Iraqis nowadays undergo such surgeries not only to improve their own appearance, but also manifest their defiance of religious extremism.
"I am a woman and my appearance is a big priority to me, so I always follow the latest news about cosmetic surgeries and beauty industry," Sawsan Jabbar, a government employee in her 40s, told Xinhua.
"I have undergone several cosmetic surgeries, and I don't want to go into details. But my goal definitely is to get a charming look," she said.
Jabbar believed that Iraq's openness to the world, modern communication technologies and the return to stability, especially after the defeat of Islamic State (IS) militants, have encouraged many Iraqis to undergo cosmetic surgeries such as face-lift, lip augmentation and hair transplantation.
In the years after the U.S.-led invasion into Iraq in 2003, cosmetic and plastic surgeries were mainly conducted to repair the wounds and damages to the body or appearance caused by violence and wars.
But in recent years, as the country has stabilized, cosmetic or plastic surgeries are offered by many beauty centers and clinics that have sprung up across the Iraqi cities, most notably in Baghdad.
A lot of advertising institutions promote beauty services and treatment in Iraq. Some Iraqis even receive hair transplants, skin whitening and reduction of age spots, cosmetic dentistry, as well as minor surgeries such as Botox and stem cell injections.
Abdullah Mohammed, 21, underwent a few cosmetic surgeries on his face and body to erase some birth defects.
"I used to feel sad every time when I looked into the mirror, and I was embarrassed to step out of the house. Then I noticed an advertisement post on Facebook about cosmetic surgeries for cases like mine," he said.
He later visited a clinic just to found out that many others have received cosmetic treatment there, which encouraged him to get such surgeries.
"I feel normal now and I'm no longer shy to meet people," Mohammed said, adding that the surgeries boosted his self-confidence.
In this photo taken on May 5, Abbas al-Sahan, a plastic surgeon and director of the al-Wasity Hospital in Baghdad, talked to Xinhua reporters in an interview. (Khalil Dawood/Xinhua)
Abbas al-Sahan, a plastic surgeon and director of al-Wasity Hospital in Baghdad, told Xinhua that cosmetic surgeries are now becoming more popular in Iraq due to the social need.
One of the main factors behind the proliferation of cosmetic surgeries was the relative retreat of extremism and terrorism, particularly after the victory over the IS group in late 2017, al-Sahan said.
He also believed that the rising popularity of cosmetic surgeries in Iraq is due to their impact in "the psychological aspect as some men and women are seeking social acceptance and self-confidence."
In some cases, good-looking is a requirement for getting good jobs, he said.
For many women, one of the main reasons for doing cosmetic surgery is the desire to increase prospects for a good marriage, al-Sahan explained.
Rhinoplasty, Botox, liposuction, breast augmentation, eyelid tightening, face-lift and ear malformations are among the popular cosmetic surgeries in Iraq, he said.
He revealed that a large percentage of his patients are men.
The cost of cosmetic or plastic surgeries in Iraq is much lower than in European countries, giving the customers another reason to choose the Iraqi beauty centers for such surgeries.
In this photo taken on May 5 stands the al-Wasity Hospital in Baghdad, which performs cosmetic surgeries for Iraqis who seek to improve their own looks. (Khalil Dawood/Xinhua)
However, al-Sahan recommended the patients make sure to go to a cosmetic center with good reputation that is operated by experienced specialists, to avoid any potential negative repercussions and side effects.
But, al-Sahan admitted that rich Iraqis still prefer to travel abroad for cosmetic surgeries, as the confidence in Iraqi beauty clinics remains relatively low.
As result of the remarkable improvement in security situation following the anti-IS victory in Iraq, many beauty centers and plastic surgery hospitals have opened their doors in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.
However, such surgeries, which offend the religious extremists who tried to force their hegemony over the Iraqi society in the past years, have not gone without price.
Last year, the mysterious deaths of two Iraqi beauticians in their homes in Baghdad, including Rafif al-Yaseri, owner of the Barbie Clinic, and Rasha al-Hassan, owner of the Viola beauty center, raised questions about a systematic targeting of beauticians by extremists.
In a tweet commenting on al-Hassan's death, Iraqi lawmaker Faiq al-Sheikh Ali accused the extremists of aiming at the beauty centers after murdering many pilots, doctors, university professors and others.
Ali denounced the extremists as "enemies of beauty, life haters, and killers of creativity."