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Strange whims and odd makeovers

For a lot of people, plastic surgery is no longer about cocking-a-snook at their unsatisfactory genes to always look better than their best. It’s more about having a whim and being ready to pay megabucks to get what you want.

columns Updated: Nov 16, 2013 23:15 IST
Sanchita Sharma

People are strange, but even stranger are the things they want plastic and reconstructive surgeons to do to them. For a lot of people, plastic surgery is no longer about cocking-a-snook at their unsatisfactory genes to always look better than their best. It’s more about having a whim and being ready to pay megabucks to get what you want.

Vying for place in the Odd-Makeover List that includes size-obsessed Thai men who get olive oil injected in their penises for enlargement (so popular was this that Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health had to issue a warning some years ago urging men to be happy with their natural size) and women in China who get both their legs broken and stretched on a rack to add height, are people who want nips and cuts to just make it to magazine covers, or look like a complete stranger to get a second chance with someone who dumped them.

People are getting silicone implants squeezed between their scalp and their head to stand 2-inches taller. The 90-minutes surgery, say surgeons, is simple enough, in which the implant is slipped under the scalp through a 2-inch incision in the side of the head under the hairline. If you lose hair, there’s the risk of you resembling a Talosian (humanoid alien with a bulbous head from Star Trek), but there seem to be some ready to risk. It’s usually accompanied with getting the abdomen flattened to create a washboard eight-pack, which is done by combining liposuction and skin tightening, though surgeons I spoke to haven’t had women asking for rib removal to get a 17-inch waist like the fictional Scarlett O’Hara.

Among the stranger surgeries Apollo Hospital’s Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon Dr Shahin Nooreyezdan has done are a mole transplant from a girl’s abdomen to her cheek because she wanted a “beauty spot” just there, and redirecting the line’s on a woman’s palm because her husband had been convinced by an astrologer that her palm spelt bad luck for their marriage! “He looked very sad and distressed, I really felt bad for the guy, so I pointed the line on his wife’s palm in the other direction, just the way they wanted it,” says Dr Nooreyezdan, who did the tweak under local anesthesia. Among the one’s he’s turned away are a couple from Haryana who wanted their young daughter to be made to look like a boy so she could inherit property.

This request was out-weirded by a young woman who came to Fortis Hospital’s plastic surgeon Ajaya Kashyap asking to be made to look exactly like her brother. The reason: her brother was dying of cancer and she wanted to replace him. Dr Kashyap turned her down. Another strange one he recalls is from the American cancer-survivor who underwent breast reconstruction after mastectomy (surgical removal of the breasts) to treat her cancer and asked for heart-shaped nipples.

The strangest one for reconstructive surgeon Dr Vivek Kumar from Sir Gangaram Hospital was a young man who wanted his face changed completely so the girl who had dumped him but who he still liked would not recognise him. “It sounded like he’d seen too many films about people getting a new face and getting away with it. He thought if he got a new face and pretend to be someone else, she and her family would be fooled,” says Dr Kumar, who promptly turned him away.

Then there are people who want a “voice-lift” to firm up their trembly and raspy old voices by getting silicone injected in the larynx, and others who get “hand-lift” by taking unwanted fat from the thighs or abdomen and injecting it into the hands to fill the sagging area between the bones and the skin for a younger appearance.

Calf-implants for shapely legs – you simply get botox injected in the calves every few months to firm up your calves to make the legs look shapely - are almost as common as butt lifts, where fat from other parts of the body is used to contour your unshapely behind into a more desirable derrière.

If this goes on, you should consider getting a grin-lift, where surgeons nip the skin at the corner of your lips to give you a permanent smile. The downside is you may end up looking like The Joker from Batman, but then, I’m sure there are some weirdos around who want that look.