Through a looking glass
'Look good' is the big city mantra and Mumbai's clinics are dedicated to cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgeons tell all to Rochelle Pinto...health and fitness Updated: Jan 16, 2009 14:59 IST
‘We discourage girls from going in for breast implants’
It is no longer spoken about in whispers. In fact, clinics dedicated to cosmetic surgery are all over the city.. and even advertise their services in local train compartments and at bus stops.
Look good is the big city mantra at this moment, never mind the financial crunch. Dr Kiran Naik and Dr Vijay Sharma, leading cosmetic surgeons, tell all to Rochelle Pinto...
Since the establishment of the first dedicated center in the late 1980s, cosmetic surgery has seen a 600-fold growth. With around 150-200 cosmetic clinics and centers in Mumbai, the interest in cosmetic surgery isn’t confined to the jet-setting class alone.
With the middle-income strata becoming picky about its looks, the age group of those opting for cosmetic surgery has also decreased. Doctors have noted patients as young as 15 opting for treatments like
glycolic peels and skin polishing.
This windfall in cosmetic surgery could be attributed in part to the airline and hospitality industry which place an emphasis on appearance.
Nip and tuck
According to experts, the most-wanted surgeries of the moment are breast augmentation and liposuction. While breast implants cost upwards of Rs 40,000,liposuction costs about Rs 25,000 to 50,000 per area.
These surgeries are most in demand among the age group of 20-35 and are recommended as a method of getting rid of fat deposits which are resistant to exercise.
Contrary to popular belief, cosmetic surgery is not a last resort fix. According to Dr Kiran Naik of the Chicago Cosmetic Surgery Centre, most of his patients are well-adjusted individuals who are not looking to flaunt their looks. “It is only media attention that has associated cosmetic surgery with glamour,” he states. “Most patients do it to improve their own body image and not to parade themselves in public.”
Naik states that he selects his patients based on their motivation for the surgery. “I refuse obese people because they are looking at liposuction for weight loss. I cannot help them. We even advise some patients to seek therapy since they may have a negative body image which cannot be solved with cosmetic surgery.”
Teenage girls, Naik says, have approached him for breast augmentation. “Non-invasive surgeries like skin polishing are not harmful. They are almost like going to a parlour for a facial,” he asserts. “But when girls come to us for surgeries like breast implants, we try to discourage them. If they insist, then we make it mandatory for their guardians to be present.”
Dr Vijay Sharma, President of the Indian Association of Cosmetic Surgery, believes that we are going through a phase of “hyper-aesthetic tension”. According to him, the male to female ratio opting for surgery has almost become equal, compared to 20 years ago when a majority of those opting for surgery were women. Most men are opting for tummy tucks and facial lifts while significant numbers line up for liposuction. Sharma cautions, “Nine out of ten patients who come in for surgery should be discouraged. Unless the need is an absolute must, beauty shouldn’t come at the cost of health.”
Although surgeries may seem minimal, there are certain risk factors like dissatisfaction, depression, and worse. “All patients have to sign a consent form in which all the complications that may arise after surgery are revealed,” Sharma emphasises.“Yes the world is beginning to accept cosmetic surgery but it should also be prepared for the accompanying risks.”
Both Sharma and Naik agree that Botox — the biggest fad in cosmetic procedures — is also “the biggest fraud”. The injectible contains bacteria that paralyses muscles on being injected into the skin, giving a ‘youthful’ wrinkle-free appearance.
But because the effect of Botox is temporary, regular touch-ups are essential. “In the case of frequent use, the damage to the muscles may force a patient to undergo a face-lift at an early age. This scam allows for doctors and dermatologists to set themselves up for a steady income from their patients.” warns Sharma.
It goes without saying that the glamour business is the biggest hunting ground for cosmetic surgeons. In their ceaseless quest to look picture perfect, many top movie stars have undergone ‘beautification’ surgeries.. but often with nasty complications. While Shilpa Shetty and Koena Mitra have been open about their surgeries, the rest of Bollywood remains tight-lipped.
Sridevi was also said to have gone in for ‘beauty treatment’ during her heyday. Subsequently, the names of Sushmita Sen,
Priyanka Chopra, Bipasha Basu and Harman Baweja have been cited.
Doctors are especially wary of people who come in demanding to look like their favourite film star or model. Naik tries to explain to his patient that while certain features may suit a star’s face, it won’t necessarily suit theirs. Sharma had faced media heat when it was reported that he had reconstructed a debutant actor Harman Baweja too look like Hrithik Roshan. To that, his defence is, “Cosmetic surgery only enhances someone’s features. It is not my fault if one actor starts dancing and acting like another.”
And what about the Bollywood women’s to-die-for looks? To that Sharma deadpans, “Just remember that those voluptuous lips are carrying around a part of their backsides.”