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DATA STORY: The Indian preference for natural looks is costing cosmetic surgeons dear

Fewer Indians opted for cosmetic procedures like liposuction, nose jobs, and hair transplants in 2016 when compared to last year.

December 06, 2017 / 05:48 PM IST
A woman lies on an operating table during a facelift surgery at a private plastic surgery clinic in Budapest, March 1, 2012. Hungary, where medical costs are relatively low with high level of service, is a favourite destination for medical tourism, including plastic surgeries. Picture taken March 1, 2012.    REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo (HUNGARY  - Tags: HEALTH) FOR BEST QUALITY IMAGE ALSO SEE: GM1E86L1HO301 - GM1E8390DNZ01

A woman lies on an operating table during a facelift surgery at a private plastic surgery clinic in Budapest, March 1, 2012. Hungary, where medical costs are relatively low with high level of service, is a favourite destination for medical tourism, including plastic surgeries. Picture taken March 1, 2012. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo (HUNGARY - Tags: HEALTH) FOR BEST QUALITY IMAGE ALSO SEE: GM1E86L1HO301 - GM1E8390DNZ01

Cosmetic surgeries to enhance one's physical appearance may be losing their popularity in India, considering a decline in the number of Indians who opted for liposuction, nose jobs, or others aesthetic surgeries in 2016.

India slipped three positions to rank 7th globally in 2016 in terms of the total number of cosmetic procedures performed, including surgical and nonsurgical procedures, compared to last year, according to a 2017 report by International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS).

Source: Statista Source: Statista

In India, 8,78,180 cosmetic procedures were performed over the last one year, compared to 9,35,487 procedures that were conducted in 2015. After cosmetic procedures peaked in India in 2015, it receded by around 6 percent last year.

India was not listed among the top 25 countries that perform cosmetic procedures in 2014, 2013 or 2012 in the survey conducted by ISAPS, which collects data on plastic surgeons from across the globe.

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The country recorded a sudden decline in cosmetic surgeries despite being considered a hotspot for such surgeries. Its improved medical technology, low surgery cost, and over 2,000 surgeons who specialize both in surgical and non-surgical procedures attract patients from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Europe and Korea.

According to the recent data from the Ministry of Tourism, around 96,856 medical tourists had visited India this year till June 2017.

Lasers, botox and skin surgeries such as facelifts and nose jobs are more affordable in India in comparison to other countries. For instance, cosmetic surgery in India costs about Rs 1,93,576 compared to Rs 12,90,510 in the USA and Rs 11,61,459 in the UK, as per Clinicspots Holistic Healthcare.

India reported a maximum decline in non-surgical procedures, which includes botulinum toxin or botox, hair removal and cellulite treatment, followed by body and extremities procedures such as arm lift, buttock lift and liposuction.

Interestingly, the base charges for all these procedures have roughly been the same over the past year, according to the price details listed on Akruti Institute of Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery's website.

It is hard to pinpoint the reason for a decline in such procedures as these surgeries have consistently increased in India for the past decade. However, the decline seems to reflect a global trend of countries known for such procedures witnessing a plateauing in the number of surgeries.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) stated in its annual release that Britain reported the lowest number of cosmetic surgeries in 2016 in nearly a decade. It suggested that the number of cosmetic operations dropped by 40 percent, with the total number of procedures below 31,000 – 5 percent less than the number in 2007.

A slowdown in the demand for such procedures is a result of various incidents of implantation scandals, changing trends as well as better-informed patients.

In June 2012, The Guardian reported the Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) breast scandal that broke in the UK after the rate of implant ruptures doubled reportedly due to the use of silicone, which was used in mattresses. Over 4,00,000 women, who had undergone breast augmentation, were affected around the world.

Such instances encouraged patients to make informed decisions about the cosmetic surgery. Michael Cadier, president of BAAPS, said that the reduced number of cosmetic surgeries reflected that patients  “are doing their research, taking their time”.

Rajiv Grover, a consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS spokesman, had pointed out that the decline in the number of cosmetic surgeries reflects the current trend of people opting for more natural looks and subtle enhancements, rather than more invasive dramatic alterations, which typically involve more surgeries.

The decline may indicate an increased awareness among Indians regarding various cosmetic surgeries, or an increased inclination towards natural looking features.
Anupa Kujur
first published: Dec 6, 2017 04:57 pm

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