Text: Matthew Schneeberger
If it could improve your self-image, help you fit into that perfect dress or boost your professional opportunities, would you consider breast augmentation?
Fifteen years ago, this question would be dismissed as irreverent and irrelevant.
But today, both on the big screen and in major metros, one can see that the cosmetic surgery craze has hit India.
First it was nose jobs, tummy tucks and face-lifts. Now, breast enhancement is the latest trend imported from the West and on display.
Says Mumbai-based cosmetic surgeon Dr Viral Desai, "Breast augmentation has been around for about 35 years and every year the number of those who opt for it has risen. In my own experience, consultations and queries have increased exponentially. This is not merely a fad."
Perhaps most intriguing are the demographics of patients. Dr Varun Dixit, a breast augmentation specialist, says his clients come from three main sub-groups. "About 40 percent are from the entertainment industry, and get it done for professional reasons," he says. "Another group, young women, make up about 30 percent of the queries; they get it done for themselves. A further 20 percent are married women and a very, very small percent are those in the process of gender re-assignment (from a man to a woman)."
Dr Desai sees similar clientele. "First, there are the pre-marriage women, 18 to 25. Then, there are post-child delivery married women. Finally, and this is easily the largest group, there are those from the entertainment industry."
Dr Ashok Gupta, a cosmetic surgeon known for his work on high-profile celebrities, says he gets "all types" as customers, "but mostly in the mid-thirties from the non-celebrity group and in the mid-twenties from the entertainers group."
Dr Gupta adds most women get it done to "compete with other ladies" and that "it does boost their self-esteem." This is a common claim: Women who opt for breast enhancement suffer from depression and poor self-image. Dr Desai, however, disagrees.
"Just because a woman may be unhappy with the size and/or appearance of her breasts, it doesn't mean she suffers from low self-esteem," he says. Furthermore, Dr Desai lists practical reasons one might opt for the surgery. "Women often see a loss of volume and a little sagging after pregnancy, so they opt for augmentation, to restore her breasts to their pre-natal condition. And girls in the entertainment industry, it's becoming a part of their profession. Because they diet and exercise like crazy, they naturally lose fat from all parts of the body, including the breasts. They think that the implants might help them move from a small part to a big role."
Caption: Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson shows off her artificial but ample cleavage on the red carpet, top left, and yes, that's what silicone implants, bottom right, look like. Photographs: Ethan Miller and Spencer Platt/ Getty Images
Also see: How to get cheeks like Angelina Jolie!