Afghanistan’s boom in cosmetic surgery


Doctor Abdul Ghafar, AGE, is one of them. Like Ahmadzai, he splits his time between practising cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, supplying the middle class with the likes of botox injections, while organising annual camps in rural provinces to operate on children with clef lips. 

Ghafar, who advertises via TikTok and Instagram, says that social media has hugely influenced people’s desire for cosmetic treatments. 

“Of course, even in the midst of war, people still have the desire to look attractive, to be desirable,” he explained, adding that reconstructive surgery was a need, especially for children living with disabilities they are often bullied for in school. 

“Cosmetic plastic surgery however still isn’t fully accepted in our society. Even my patients are secretive about it. They don’t want people to know,” he said, sitting in his quiet, light-flooded office, a coffee mug in front of him reading “Doctors are Angel.” [sic] 

Both Ghafar and Ahmadzai say that not all people who claim to be doctors and plastic surgeons are fully certified and that while the Ministry of Public Health is trying to control this, it’s almost impossible in the six-million crowded capital that is already dealing with the grave realities of war. 

Last November, the hospital Ghafar practises in was hit by one of 23 rockets when an attack was launched onto the city centre.

None of this is visible today anymore as walls and plaster have long been replaced and no one at the clinic died at the explosion’s impact. Still, fear sits deep, not just with the hospital staff, but across the entire city.

“No place in Kabul is safe anymore. We live with this reality every day,” Ghafar said, adding. “But of course people still have dreams and ambitions. People still seek beauty.”

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