French plastic surgeons set up base in Malta - 1/6/2005

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French plastic surgeons set up base in Malta
Cynthia Busuttil

A French company specialising in cosmetic surgery has set up base in Malta to offer confidential and safe surgery to high-profile personalities.

Malta could well become a mecca for personalities seeking to have cosmetic surgery somewhere where they are assured of the strictest confidence.

The Centre Euro Méditerranéen de Chirurgie Esthétique (CEMCE) has chosen Malta as its base and for just over a year has been performing surgery at Saint James Hospital. The operation has been kept as hush-hush as possible.

The CEMCE management said the centre's clients are high-profile people who do not want to be operated upon in their country for confidentiality reasons.

"Confidentiality and medical excellence are on top of the CEMCE's agenda," a spokesman for the centre's management told The Times. Both the centre, the hospital and the hotel chain used by the patients were signatories to an ethical charter which lays down that members will never mention the presence of a patient, or the reasons of their stay, whether before, during or after their stay.

A total of 17 top-notch French plastic surgeons were recently accredited by the Malta Medical Council to operate in Malta and will be working through the CEMCE.

The centre's management stressed that the CEMCE did not come to Malta to compete with surgeons here basically because its clientele consists of foreigners. It is highly unlikely that a Maltese patient wanting confidentiality would choose to have surgery in his homeland, the spokesman.

CEMCE had to choose between Malta and Sardinia. "But after a year-long search, we found that Malta was offering the best conditions," the spokesman added.

Among the prerequisites, the centre was looking for good weather and efficient airline links. Moreover, it was after a state-of-the-art hospital and a good quality chain of hotels where the patients could be accommodated after surgery.

The CEMCE's clients come from European and Mediterranean countries and clients are informed by their surgeons how long they would be expected to stay in Malta following the procedure.

"We will not have anybody come here to have surgery and leave before the surgeon believes it is safe for them to do so. Cosmetic surgery is first and foremost a medical procedure and we do not want to run any risks," the spokesman emphasised.

In case of emergencies, or if the recovering patients have any queries, they are given a mobile phone as soon as they arrive in Malta "so they are always a phone call away".

One of the main difficulties in setting shop in Malta was convincing clients about the availability of the best medical equipment and high-quality service.

"However, Malta's EU accession was a big help because now people understand that a good hospital which abides by European security standards can exist here."

Malta's image differs depending from which country clients come. British and Italians had a good impression of Malta, the former because of their close ties due to Malta being an ex-British colony and the latter because of proximity. But there were other nationalities who believed Malta was somewhat backwards.

A plus point in choosing Malta was its small size, which meant that wherever the patients were during their rehabilitation they would be close to the hospital in case complications arose. However, CEMCE emphasised when in Malta the patients would not be on holiday. Paramount to their full recovery was a lot of rest.

The fact that Malta is easily reached by air and that flights from European and Mediterranean countries are relatively short, meant that the risk of a patient suffering from a post-operative blood clot is very low. In fact, the spokesman said, a week or 10 days after surgery, the patient would have the same odds of such complications as any other passenger. On the other hand, a long flight would increase risks, making far-flung countries unattractive contenders.

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