Are looks important for Indians? Certainly, going by a survey that has ranked India fourth as a plastic surgery hotspot. Doctors attribute the trend to greater spending capacity, the celebrity factor and world class medical facilities in the country.
"There are many reasons for India to be one of the top destinations for plastic surgery in the world. Today India has well-trained and skilled doctors, good infrastructure and comparatively less expensive treatments," Sanjay Parashar, plastic, aesthetic and craniofacial surgeon, told IANS on phone from Delhi.
The statistics released by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery this week reveals the US has the largest number of clients for plastic surgery, followed by Brazil. China is on number three while India is fourth.
Manoj Kumar, a senior plastic surgery consultant at Max Hospital in the capital, feels money and awareness have triggered demand for the surgery.
"The most important reasons for a rise in cosmetic surgeries in the country is the awareness created by different media regarding new cosmetic procedures around the world. People now know about treatments and at the same time their paying capacity has also increased and it enables them to go in for these procedures," he said.
"Earlier, people just had a basic knowledge of cosmetic surgeries but now their knowledge is quite deep and they know what is good for them," he added.
Experts also believe that celebrities going in for cosmetic treatments generates a craze among the general public. Actresses like Sridevi, Karisma Kapoor, Koena Mitra and Minissha Lamba have reportedly used surgery to enhance their looks.
"Celebrities from the film world and other fields are known to have gone under the knife and this encourages the common man to try it too. Nowadays we get news of celebrities going in for cosmetic surgery almost every day," revealed Amit Gupta, a Delhi-based cosmetic surgeon, who on an average gets close to 10-12 cases every day.
In India, most popular among women is breast augmentation and liposuction, while men mostly go in for hair transplant. Bollywood star Salman Khan and cricketer Virender Sehwag have been open about their hair treatment.
Although cosmetic surgeries have been happening in the country for many years now, experts say there has been a spurt since 2005.
"Although Mumbai was quite active with regard to plastic surgery treatment in the last 10 years, it has become a trend across India in the last five years," said Parashar, who is also director of the Coocona Centre for Aesthetic Transformation in the capital.
Said Gupta: "It's been on a roll since 2005, but the last two-three years have been explosive. In fact, there is an increase in the number of surgeries every year. I have seen a 40 percent increase since last year".
Looking at the way things are going, Kumar is optimistic that soon India will jump from the fourth position to number one.
"I'm optimistic about the cosmetic surgery industry in the country because we not only have patients from India coming to us but also people from abroad because now they are convinced about the quality of treatment and facilities they'll get here," he said.