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Tehran: The 'nose job' capital of the world

Tehran is the 'nose job' capital of the world. Credit: ITV On Assignment

Even though Iran is gradually opening up to the world, to Western eyes, it is still a country frozen in time.

To us it is still the land of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 which remain implacably opposed to anything western, with a strict and forbidding approach to life for young people in search of new and modern fashions.

There is certainly this side to Iran, but it's also a stereotype. Walk around Tehran away from these images and you see a very surprising side to Iran that very few westerners would ever imagine exists.

It's plastic surgery, and in particular cosmetic nose surgery. Believe it or not, Tehran is the "nose job" capital of the world – with more procedures per person than even the home of Hollywood itself, LA.

Under Islamic law and interpretation in Iran, there is nothing stopping or limiting cosmetic nose surgery.

There are tell-tale signs of cosmetic surgery among young people in Tehran. Credit: ITV On Assignment

In fact if you spend half a day walking around downtown or north Tehran, where many of the cosmetic nose surgeons have their consulting rooms, I guarantee that you will come across a young man or a young woman with bandages across their noses – the tell-tale sign of someone who, to use the modern parlance, "has had some work done".

Dr Hamidreza Hosnani is a leading Iranian rhinoplasty surgeon (to give cosmetic nose surgery its proper name). Dr Hosnani does around four operations a day – five to six days a week.

So widespread is plastic nose surgery in Iran that some clients travel from abroad and the region to have operations.

Whilst I was with him, Dr Hosnani was having a final consultation with a young woman who'd flown from Denmark to have surgery done.

Sahand Zaraei, a university student has aspirations to be a model. A fashion magazine told him he had potential but he felt he wanted his nose "to be a bit more perfect" to have a chance at a modelling careers.

Extraordinarily he told me that the vast majority of his classmates at university had also had "nose jobs" and were urging him to go through with it because it brought such benefits.

There are many factors behind the rise in cosmetic nose surgery in Iran, for some there is the perceived pronounced features of what they call "the Persian nose" although I have to say I don't see that at all.

The other of course is the pervasive influence of the western idea of fashion and beauty and how people around the world are adapting to look more in line with a Western-inspired idea of what looks fashionable or beautiful.

Rageh Omaar looks on as Dr Hamidreza Hosnani carries out a rhinoplasty procedure. Credit: ITV On Assignment

But I left feeling whether this could all be part of a trend that will come to an inevitable end.

I visited the studios of a young Iranian fashion designer who already has her own lines. She teaches other emerging want-to-be fashion designers. Her work is a blend of western styles and sensibilities – blended with ancient Persian motifs and designs.

She told me that in her opinion it was fine wanting to look more beautiful – whether by undergoing the knife or in how you dress. But combining the two cultures brought out the best results.

  • On Assignment will be broadcast on ITV tonight at 10.40pm.