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    Surgeon describes current state of cosmetic, plastic surgery in India

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    Similar to the trend in Western societies, cosmetic surgery is gaining popularity in India, particularly in larger cosmopolitan cities such as Mumbai. This surge in popularity may be, in part, a reflection of the steady financial growth and increased economic stability seen in the country, according to one Indian surgeon.


    Dr. Thomas
    "In the past, the patients undergoing cosmetic surgery were either wealthy, in the film industry or media, and socialites. Today, the frequent mention of cosmetic surgery and its 'feel-good' factor as seen on television and on the Internet has brought cosmetic surgery to the forefront, albeit on a smaller scale (than)in the U.S.," says Mohan Thomas, M.D., a cosmetic surgeon in private practice in Mumbai.

    "Aspiring actors, models and media people comprise this growing patient population, and with the current economic prosperity, this trend is expected to continue," he says.

    Advanced techniques and procedures also have reached the shores of the Indian subcontinent and are being used at high-end facilities, Dr. Mohan says. However, arrival of some of the cutting-edge devices seen in the United States has been slow, he says, mostly because of their high cost and constant evolution, both of which can make investment choices difficult.

    "One of the major obstacles in obtaining brand-new cosmetic devices is the lack of easy leasing options, and one ends up having to purchase these machines at exorbitant costs," he says. "The prohibitive costs, coupled with the average patient fees being significantly lower than (in) the Western world, makes such an investment more challenging."

    OTOPLASTY POPULARITY Many of the cosmetic surgery procedures that are performed in the United States are also frequently requested by cosmetic patients in India. The most popular include body contouring, rhinoplasty and breast augmentation surgery, Dr. Thomas says. However, there are several culture-specific cosmetic procedures performed in India that may be considered a rarity in other parts of the world.

    "Otoplasty is a commonly performed procedure in India, particularly among the females," Dr. Thomas says. "The reason for this is that the Indian culture requires the ears of females to be heavily ornated with jewelry during much of the holidays and special occasions like marriages. Vaginal rejuvenation, and particularly hymen reconstruction, is also on the rise in India because of the pressure brought on the females to be virgins, in some of the Indian communities more than the others."

    STEM CELLS The use of stem cells derived from fat is growing in popularity in India, and, according to Dr. Thomas, there is no doubt that the augmentation of the facial region and other regions (such as gluteal augmentation with adipose-derived reparative cells) is beneficial. However, systemic use of stem cells for the management of serious medical illnesses such as pulmonary fibrosis, neurological disorders and erectile dysfunction remains controversial and experimental at this time.

    "I have some concern regarding breast augmentation using the same technique as are many other leading cosmetic surgeons and onco (cancer) surgeons," Dr. Thomas says.

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