Pretty pricey plastic demands

TNN | Jun 21, 2012, 12.07PM IST

Cosmetic nipping and tucking is finding new ways of getting itself permanently sutured into aspirants as people find ways to raise money to meet the cosmetic procedure expenses
With a distinct shift in the consumer profile of cosmetic surgery patients contemporarily this new client is also finding innovative ways of raising money to meet their demands. A middle class housewife, the girl-next-door college student, a conventional school teacher and a priggish junior exec may not be as aesthetically banal- compared to the wannabe starlet- anymore, as they too join the queue of aspirants into cosmetic procedures. As India cheers for cosmetic treatments and climbs to number five in the global market for medical cosmetic procedures (quoted in a latest study by ISAPS- International Society Of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery), just to what extent is this new client base going to raise funds to satisfy their ‘need’ to look good? Quite far…if cosmetic surgeons and aesthetic consultants right from Chandigarh to Chennai are to be believed.
From creating ‘special saving funds’ to applying for bank loans, to asking for cosmetic treatments as gifts from friends and relatives, the funding to meet cosmetic requirements is growing roots into newer resources of money. Economy be damned…the new age consumer is not stopping at anything to look pretty.
The Mumbai clinic of Dr Jamuna Pai, a leading cosmetic physician with a large celebrity clientele, is perhaps the best indicator of this new age funding. Being one of the biggest injector of minimal invasive treatments (like Botox and Juvederm etc that don’t require surgery) in India, Pai says the popularity of non-invasive procedures is encouraging almost ‘everyone’ to take the shot. “The client age ranges between 17 and 70 years. It’s no longer only about stars and people in the glamour business aspiring for that perfect nose, fuller lips or high cheekbones. A normal housewife who has completed her family by giving birth doesn’t want those unsightly stretch marks anymore. And she knows she has now has a solution at hand. The only thing she needs to do is raise money for it,” says Pai. At her clinic there’s a growing number of young girls who are being accompanied by ‘partners’ willing to pay hefty sums for a nose, boob job or lip augmentation. “Considering we are in the Maximum City where stars are inspirations, these young girls, who especially come in here as PGs for the treatments, are finding rich ‘partners’ who can pay for these procedures,” adds Pai.

Another contributing factor is the good remuneration packages offered to the middle class employees now. “In India cosmetic surgery is still affordable as compared to the salaries that companies are giving,” says Dr KM Kapoor, cosmetic surgeon and international trainer for Botox cosmetic from Chandigarh, “People here are now also creating saving funds like a ‘lipo fund’ or a ‘boob fund’, a trend borrowed from the West, wherein they set aside money for two-three years to get a liposuction, a breast augmentation or rhinoplasty.” While Kapoor says a private international bank is in the process of collaborating with Botox to offer finance schemes for patients in Chandigarh, in some cities this is already in practice. Dr Chytra V Anand, cosmetic dermatologist from Bangalore, says at least two leading banks are offering this scheme to her patients since three years now, while a third bank is waiting at the threshold. She adds, “Not just the affluent class, now the average citizen with 10 lakh salary per annum also wants to look good to land a job with a better salary as looks are fast becoming a huge criterion for jobs now.” Many of her patients are also students who, “Do extra jobs like becoming yoga teacher, dance instructors, waiting at restaurants, to afford these procedures,” says Anand who offers installment options at her clinic, as also payments through credit cards.
Lately, another interesting contributor is leading international corporate houses. Says Dr Manoj Khanna, a broad-certified plastic, aesthetic and cosmetic surgeon headquartered in Kolkata, “Certain frontline international companies are now approaching us for gift vouchers for their key employees as part of their incentives,” says Khanna adding that down south Hyderabad is fast emerging as a crucial market with very high awareness levels.
Summing it all up is Dr Simal Soin, cosmetic dermatologist and director based in New Delhi. “Recently I saw a woman from the lower middle strata who had gone in for breast augmentation. Obviously, for her to raise the money for this surgery is not easy. But you see, looking good is no longer a luxury, it’s become a need and to meet this need people will think of different ways.”

What a looker of a fund!
-1 in 20 patients monthly is taking personal loans from banks
-30% of them are asking for gift vouchers from husbands, parents, boyfriends
-5% patients have already started saving for creating special cosmetic treatment funds

The Times of India