Under the knife

Confessions of a Cosmetic Surgeon

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“Unrealistic demands have to be kept at bay. Patients dissatisfied with life in general have to be avoided”

When I decided to practise cosmetic surgery, it was not a rage. But it had a future. I have now been in this field for over 25 years and see it growing by 10 per cent every year.

Of the many cosmetic surgeries performed now, nose jobs (rhinoplasty) are the most popular. Breast enlargement and liposuction come next. Roughly speaking, a small procedure on the nose could cost Rs 50,000 to 1 lakh. Breast enlargement costs Rs 2 lakh and liposuction Rs 1.5 lakh.

Even if I see a patient after 10 years I can tell what I have modified on her face. Every surgery takes a lot of mental preparation and planning. First I see what the patient wants. Unrealistic demands have to be kept at bay. Patients dissatisfied with life in general have to be avoided. I filter them out in our first few meetings.

Some women bring Hema Malini and Zeenat Aman’s photos and say, ‘Make me look like them’. That is not possible. Men walk in with photos of Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan and Hrithik Roshan, saying, ‘Give me a nose like that’. You cannot copy someone else’s nose. You can modify a feature. It’s not a spare part surgery.

In the future, miracles can be expected of cosmetic surgery. Even now, using stem cells from the patient’s fat, face lifts can be done. Research is a multi-million-dollar industry and is feasible only in the West. I go abroad four times a year for conferences, to stay abreast of the latest inventions.

For every genuine cosmetic surgeon, there are ten pretenders. In this field our cutomers have to be very well off, which means the market is not very big. Therefore, there is fierce competition among cosmetic surgeons. There are very few surgeons who focus on burn injuries and cleft lips.

Patients have to be wary of themselves. They have to be sure of what they want. My job is to tell them if it is possible and feasible, or not.

(The doctor is a cosmetic surgeon in New Delhi)