Lasers, Lifts and Liposuction

Testing Hungary’s fame as a mecca of plastic surgery: the antidote to aging

The interior of the Mona Lisa Centrum | Photo: Mona Lisa Centruma

Despite the popularity of these procedures, they still involve injections and lasers and are not fully pain-free | Photo: Mona Lisa Centrum

The Mona Lisa Centrum

The interior of the Mona Lisa Centrum | Photo: Mona Lisa Centruma

Maybe it was one hangover too many, or maybe I was just tired. But on that spring day when I looked into the mirror and saw another crow’s foot had somehow cropped up just beneath my eyes, I decided it was time to take action. I was not a typical customer: For one thing I’m barely 30 and not a construction worker or a field hand.

Also, I live in Hungary. And there are plenty of rumours of miraculous makeovers abound. So, I made it my mission to investigate, and find out once and for all how much, if any, of this was true. What I discovered was a parallel world of reinvention, of professionalism and pampering, and of crafty surgeons who make dreams come true every day.


A tradition of beauty

Plastic surgery has a long history in Hungary: Ever since the brilliant Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis established antiseptic surgical procedures in 1847 in Vienna and Budapest, Hungary has prided itself on staying at the head of the field. Even under the constraints of the communist years, standards were high, and after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the information exchange between Hungarian and foreign doctors improved rapidly. Doctors rejoined international symposiums, expanding their knowledge of the latest developments in the field.

As a result, Hungarian ear, nose and throat surgeons expanded into plastic surgery. And today, the profession has again become known as a leader, attracting discerning patients from across Europe to take advantage of its low-cost yet excellent facilities.

Most Hungarian practitioners are members of the invitation-only American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), working in collaboration with the Hungarian Ministry of Health, which surveys and prescribes stringent codes to uphold quality and safety.

Since the 2008 economic crisis, luxuries like plastic surgery have become less affordable even for the British, German, Scandinavian, and Austrian middle classes, thus they have been making their way towards Hungarian clinics to beautify themselves without having to dig too deep into their pockets.


Nipping and tucking

“I received my first rhinoplasty in the Czech Republic, but was very unsatisfied,” reported Anita Hofer, an Austrian patient. A friend suggested Hungary. “Doctors here are immensely thorough and attentive, and most importantly skilled. They managed to correct the sloppy work of my previous doctor… So I keep coming back.”

With a little bit of research, it turns out you can find affordable cosmetic surgery for both men and women, using state-of-the-art procedures, performed by plastic surgeons respected in the field. Looking attractive and youthful is no longer the pastime of the rich and famous.

But let’s begin with the good news: Scary scalpels are gone for good.

“Invasive plastic surgery is in vain in most cases,” said Eddy Kabelitz, a chemical engineer and owner of the elegant Mona Lisa aesthetic clinic in Budapest. Kabelitz, who is of German and Hungarian descent, has been running the clinic for 15 years with his wife. He believes that non-invasive cosmetic surgery is usually just as effective as the traditional techniques of “nip and tuck”. It is quick and economical, and from Vienna, just a short train ride away.

Despite the popularity of these procedures, they still involve injections and lasers and are not fully pain-free | Photo: Mona Lisa Centrum

Prowling through the orderly clinic, I found the space luxurious and welcoming, with robust, hi-tech machines posing like intelligent robots in the sunlit rooms. Kabelitz is proud of their achievements.

“It is our task as scientists to be always up-to-date,” said his wife and professional partner Elisabeth Kabelitz. “We want to build a lasting relationship with our customers,” the majority of whom come from the U.K., where the same services cost “three times as much”, as well as from Austria, Germany, and Scandinavia.

The clinic’s menu of services extends from laser procedures that aid the skin’s rejuvenation and collagen production – including Laser Genesis, Platelet Rich Plasma therapy – Titan treatments, laser hair removal, Botox, stem cell facelifts, breast augmentation via fat transfer, liposuction, and vaginal surgeries.

But beauty is more than skin deep, and the centre’s services also address psychological and health issues.

“Many of our patients come to us depressed,” Elisabeth Kabelitz said. While “getting beautified is of utmost importance, this is solely the cure of the external.” When appropriate, patients can be referred to a psychologist or homeo-pathologist at the clinic.

Some psychological problems manifest themselves on the skin and body. “Facial hair for women often stems from a hormonal problem. With the advice of our homeo-pathologist, who can unveil the core of the problem and prescribe holistic medication, we can solve the problem on a long term basis.”

But it was time to cut to the chase: What about my skin problems, my crow’s feet and blemishes?

Eddy Kabelitz just smiled. “Unfortunately, it is a tendency of plastic surgeons to be impatient in recommending face lifts and botox to young people. In one’s 30s and 40s it’s essentially futile; facial muscles are still intact, therefore they shouldn’t be tightened and pulled. There is no need.”

Collagen production can be stimulated via laser procedures, allowing skin rejuvenation. The procedure involves the injection of the patient’s own stem cells around the eyes and tightening the skin with the Titan laser procedure.

I decided on the Laser Genesis therapy. This programme requires three to four sessions, increasing collagen production, and minimising fine wrinkles and other blemishes, evening out skin tone. The procedure can also be used to treat scars, uneven textures, and large pores. Upon applying the laser, light penetrates deeply into the skin where collagen is manufactured, stimulating an increase of new collagen production. Unlike harsher methods, this is done without destroying the upper layers of skin, thus making it non-ablative.

The result is skin with smoother texture and a healthier appearance.


Trying it on for size

My own treatment took about 20 minutes, the hum of the laser soothing, the heat tingling on the skin. After the trial my muscles seemed a little more relaxed. This was followed by mesotherapy, which involves injecting microscopic quantities of pharmaceutical agents, natural plant extracts, homeopathic agents, and/or vitamins into the skin, claimed effective against acne, scars and wrinkles. All I felt was the slight pricking of the needle; it took about 30 minutes.

Was there a change? Well, some, I thought, peering into the mirror. But another three sessions would be required for lasting results.


Mona Lisa Centrum
Lövőház u. 7-9, 5th. floor
H-1024 Budapest 

+36 1 344 67 67
+36 30 250 22 80
+36 30 68 68 686 

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