In the USA it´s not uncommon to put a gift voucher for a breast augmentation, Botox treatment or face-lift as a present under the Christmas tree. In Europe people are supposed to treat such extravagances – elective surgery carrying a possible health risk – much more carefully. Even Mallorcan cosmetic physician Dr. Alberto Morano offers a note of caution: “It remains a medical intervention. Something like offering special deals for Christmas gifts would be unethical. My fixed prices are carefully studied to be reasonable.”
An average Botox facial treatment costs 400 euros at Morano´s clinic. Interestingly, many men choose this option. Beauty is a growing business sector: new methods and materials with improved medical compatibility are developed almost every month. And seemingly, the pressure to appear young and beautiful is higher in southern countries of Latin culture. Morano: “Spain is by far the country with the highest demand for plastic and cosmetic surgery in Europe.” More than 20 doctors offer similar treatments in Mallorca and the number is steadily growing.
To eliminate any misunderstandings, it should be explained that Dr. Morano does not use a scalpel. Instead, he uses hollow needles to inject sophisticated filling liquids into certain parts of the body. Thus the surface structure of the face can be modified, body proportions can be corrected and breasts can be augmented. The most natural filling is the body´s own fatty tissue. Morano: “We can extract the fat from other areas of the body. Before re-injecting it, it has to be manipulated in the lab and can cause light inflammations. I prefer polylactic acid and hyaluronic acid as filling materials.” The results of this non-surgical treatment method fade after a certain time, if one doesn´t follow-up with new injections. Morano: “Patients can save money this way, because the base is laid and one only has to add a little bit every year. Above all, there´re no risks and practically no side effects.”
The effects of the initial treatment last for about two years. Anyone who wants a permanent change – to their nose, for example – is referred to a reputable plastic surgeon (mostly at Palma´s Juaneda hospital) by Dr. Morano: “I collaborate closely with many colleagues and work with specialists in all fields of plastic surgery. I have personally always been more interested in medicinal than surgical treatments.” Morano has tested on himself all the treatments he offers. His method requires artistic skills and precise knowledge of the human body´s anatomy and geometry. The template is based on the scientific “canon of beauty” – standardized forms, lines, and proportions with specifications – considered beautiful by almost all mankind. Morano: “With well-dosed infiltrations at key injection sites, for example, the angle of the nose in proportion to the face area can be modified, the nose is straightened or the chin can be rounded off.” He shows some sample photos and the results achieved with various imperceptible interventions seem amazing.
A vitamin treatment can revitalize the skin of dyed-in-the-wool sunbathers, damaged by UV rays. The method is called Mesotherapy: Similar to acupuncture, a cocktail of minerals like selenium and magnesium, trace elements and vitamins (A,B,C) is injected by hollow needles into the skin. The therapy is carried out over 75 days, involving four or five infiltration sessions. “The skin needs to rest between sessions,” Morano explains. He recommends a renewal two or three times a year. One notorious rejuvenation treatment is his favourite: the Botox injection.
“Many people don´t know what it´s really about, leading to prejudices that Botox might damage health,” Morano explains. For him Botulium toxin is really a magic liquid against wrinkles – with few or no side effects at all if applied subtly and professionally: “The art is injecting Botox precisely into the muscle fibres, e.g. for tightening the eyelid. After 4 to 6 months the organism completely breaks down the active ingredient metabolically.” For lasting effects, new Botox injections are necessary – always moderately deployed, in order to avoid a “frozen” facial expression.
Patients interested in Botox should seek treatments from fully-qualified doctors, like Morano. The editor of German medical information sheet “arznei-telegramm”, Wolfgang Becker-Brüser, warns against cheap offers at beauty centres in holiday hotels (http://gesundheitsnews.imedo.de). Incorrectly injected and overdosed, Botox can spread through the whole body and cause respiratory and swallowing problems. Morano categorically excludes such side effects: “This can only happen with a very high dose of Botox, such as might be used clinically on patients suffering from spastic twitching or myoclonus, for example. In aesthetic procedures very small amounts of Botox stimulate certain muscles. I tend to be conservative when dosing and prefer later adjustments to avoid large doses.”
From his point of view, a surgeon has the indispensable obligation to “caution patients with wrong ideas”, to maintain their physical and mental health. It isn’t about changing a person´s identity with plastic surgery, but slightly improving the baseline. Morano thinks radical changes are unethical: “Michael Jackson is the daunting example. He is not the main culprit for his current monstrous appearance, but the surgeons, who were obligated to deny him the abnormal treatments he requested.”
And if there are any complications? Morano: “As in any other job there is always a minimum risk with every application. We try to exclude risk factors beforehand through an intensive consultation with the patient and careful study of their medical history.” Some side effects are normal, however. After a lip augmentation or a nose correction the body reacts with minor inflammations which fade away after two or three days. Filling materials like hyaluronic or polylactic acid are fluids produced naturally by the human body, against which a person with an autoimmune disease (e.g. Aids) can build antibodies and therefore resist. Morano: “It also depends on the patient´s compliance. If one doesn´t follow my instructions and goes sunbathing directly after a skin treatment, complications can appear, which I can´t prevent.” However, he´d never refuse patients with problems from a treatment carried out by him: “Of course not. It´s obligatory for a physician to provide aftercare and maintain patients’ health. I treat any complications myself or consult a specialist whom I trust.”
Morano practises in a team of three doctors in his private clinic in Palma. He comes from Alcúdia, where the 53-year-old lives with his wife and his two daughters. He studied medicine at Barcelona University and started as a GP. Then he specialized in cosmetic surgery and went to France and Argentina to gain experience.
His anti-aging concept is born from general human wisdom: “Treat your physical capital with care. You may eat well, but not too much; you should take exercise, but not excessively; your diet should contain vitamins and antioxidants. Lead a reasonable life: sufficient sleep, no smoking, no alcohol abuse.” The only thing a person can´t stop is the passage of time – but then there’s always Dr. Morano to polish the wrinkles away.