repairs and reconstructive work, on accident or war victims, restoring limbs and even genitals. Today’s cosmetic surgeons perform plastic surgery routinely to enhance their patients’ looks.
According to a recent Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) report, Rs1000 crore is spent annually on cosmetic surgery in India. “Medical tourism to India for cosmetic surgery is rising in popularity, with some hospitals focusing exclusively on foreign patients,” says Delhi-based Dr Anil Kumar Murarka, a senior consultant in plastic, aesthetic and reconstructive surgery. In fact, the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery ranks India fourth on the list of plastic surgery hubs, after the US, China and Brazil.
“Since cosmetic surgery offers better financial prospects, comparatively fewer budding surgeons specialize in reconstructive surgery,” one leading plastic surgeon told Reader’s Digest.
Being beautiful helps, but…
Behind these facts and figures is the age-old obsession with beauty. “Many studies indicate that attractive people are more successful,” says Dr Peter Adamson, a University of Toronto, Canada, professor and facial plastic surgeon. He quotes everything from Plato to modern clinical polls as evidence: “Studies have shown that babies stare longer at beautiful faces; attractive people tend to have a better social status, are more reproductively successful and have better sex lives—particularly beautiful women.”
Navdeep Sharma, a 36-year-old Delhi marketing executive, always felt that his broad nose didn’t suit his face, and remarks from family and friends only aggravated his self-consciousness. After researching on the Internet, Sharma went in for a Rs50,000 rhinoplasty last year. He experienced pain for a month and the swelling took six months to recede. But Sharma is extremely satisfied with the final result. “I did not do it for compliments. I did this for myself. It has boosted my confidence,” he says.
In a profession where looks and personality count, he feels his new image has made a difference. Meanwhile, every story does not have a happy ending. A survey by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery has found that up to 15 percent of patients need corrective follow-up surgeries after a rhinoplasty. The French company Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP), once ranked as the world’s No. 3 maker of silicone breast implants, shut down in 2010 after exceptionally high rupture rates of its implants were reported in France. For a decade, PIP had been using industrial grade, rather than medical grade, silicone gel. Since 80 percent of their toxic implant material has been exported, there may be up to 400,000 potential victims all over the world today.
Or consider the tragic fate of thousands of women in China, who now suffer serious side effects after receiving injections of “Ao Mei Ding” or “man-made fat,” a liquid gel used in beauty parlours for breast enhancement. In serious cases, these women have had their breasts removed in order to expel the liquid. After numerous consumer complaints, China’s State Food and Drug Administration officially banned production of the drug in 2006.
The psychological health of cosmetic-surgery patients has also gone under the scanner recently. A 2004 University of Pennsylvania, USA, comparison of cosmetic-surgery patients with those undergoing general surgery found that 19 percent of the
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