The beauty and cosmetics industry has seen dizzying growth, thanks to increasing disposable income and the desire to look perfect in a selfie-obsessed culture. But the lack of proper regulations at a time when the demand for cosmetic procedures like Botox, cheek fillers and Rhinoplasty is extremely high, has resulted in the mushrooming of clinics all over the country, offering services with uncertain and often tragic results.
“Earlier, it was rare to have an 18-20-year-old come in for a treatment. And if they did, it would be for acne, excessive dandruff or maybe for a scar on the back. Now, they come and want a chin augmentation or are unhappy with their skin colour, or want to improve some other part of their face,” said Dr Rashmi Shetty, cosmetologist to the rich and famous of Mumbai.
Dr Shetty, the author of Age Erase, has clinics in Mumbai and Hyderabad and has often turned down people seeking cosmetic procedures at a young age. “A daughter of one of my long-time clients came to me complaining about her nose when she was 18. I refused her then, and finally treated her now as she is 24,” she said, adding the first thing she explains to her young clients is that they need to let their skin and face mature completely before making any alterations.
The upward surge in the demand for such procedures has turned them into commodities and the “buyers” have stopped looking at them as medical procedures to be performed by qualified professionals with utmost care. Dr Vivek Kumar, who after years of working in hospitals started his private practice in Defence Colony, New Delhi, three years ago, said that today one can get liposuction done in one’s beauty parlour. “There have been cases where people have died due to complications after liposuction. It is a procedure where often the person needs to be admitted and kept under observation for 24 hours. So, getting it done by the same person who does your eyebrows is not at all a good idea,” he said. Dr Kumar attributes the quick growth of the industry to higher disposable income, fuelling demand, and also the lack of strict checks.
Dr Shetty said that to call cosmetology a women-exclusive trend would be wrong in today’s time with a huge amount of male clients coming in for similar procedures. She now treats people across sexes and all economical spheres, “Now, with social media and abundance of information about such procedures, everyone wants it. Pigmentation and Botox are among the most popular procedures men go for now,” she said, adding that these men don’t belong to the show business as a rule. “Some are businessmen, others have high-profile jobs they need to look good for and so on. What is also uniformly common in my clients is how aware they are of what procedure they want to go for. Hardly anyone comes in and says, ‘do whatever it takes; I want to look younger,’” she added.
Same is the case with Dr Kumar who recently augmented the breasts of a girl from a small town 40 km from Ayodhya. The girl was looking to get married. Another of his cases involved a 25-year-old girl who had saved Rs 90,000 for a nose job.
“In both these cases, the patients did not suffer from any deformities. They just wanted to beautify their body parts,” he said, adding he is often approached by adolescents or youths who are starting college or jobs out of the country or in another city. The male clientele, which was just 10% five years ago, has now increased to 30%, both the doctors said. “We get young guys for body hair reduction and also to stop hair fall. Male breast is a common problem nowadays and I get a lot of such patients who are still in school. We also have a number of middle-aged men coming to us for Botox and radio frequency for anti-ageing,” said Kumar.
These are medical procedures and require expertise, Kumar said, adding that people wanting to go through such procedures should keep in mind that they should get it done by either a dermatologist or a cosmetologist. He says if a Botox or Filler procedure goes wrong, it can result in facial deformity or skin necrosis (tissue death).
Dr Shetty agreed with this, saying that this is one area where people should never go for a bargain. “It all adds up.” she said. “If you go for cheaper options available in the market it will show, and when you get it corrected, it will cost you double the money, not to mention the physical damage those chemicals have done.” Dr Shetty was shocked to find out that a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser machine, which cost her Rs 45 lakh five years ago, was being used by another doctor who paid only Rs 1.50 lakh for a similar machine. “I asked the doctor using it whether he had done any trials and clinical tests with the machine and he answered no,” she said.
“If there are clinics providing you a service for half the cost than some more advanced clinics, that is a giveaway of sub-optimal facilities,” said Dr Shetty.