Tracey Whitaker, 57, lives in New Jersey. She has visited Calcutta twice — the first time last year for a liposuction and tummy-reduction course. The second visit in March was occasioned by the need for a breast-enlargement session.
A few days ago, it was Arif Zakaria's turn to come down to Calcutta. The Karachi resident was here for a hair-transplant session.
Calcutta seems to have become the favoured destination for people who expect the scalpel to make them look better. Apart from a steady trickle of models and actresses from Mumbai and Bangalore, the city now attracts a large number of foreigners, who don’t want to depend on their maker for the way they look.
The past five years have witnessed a tremendous growth in the field of cosmetic surgery (a specialised form of plastic surgery). The combined effect of affordable rates, increasing awareness and the Bipashas and Celinas and Koynas that the city has produced recently have given the beauty business a big boost.
Take, for example, Manoj Khanna (of Cosmetic Surgery Clinic on Ho Chi Minh Sarani), who gets patients all the way from Melbourne, Muscat, Dubai and New Orleans, besides models from Mumbai and Bangalore. “Most of them read about us on the Net. Several heard about us from friends,” Khanna said. In the past year, Khanna has received several requests for liposuction and breast-enhancement even from models who made it to the top half of Mr Universe and Miss India contests.
“I believe quality care and comparatively low costs are the main reasons for the city’s success,” said plastic surgery expert Sandipan Gupta. “Even parents approach experts for scar-removal or rhinoplasty for their daughters, so that they look good before marriage,” he added.
Agrees Aniruddha Bose of Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, who spent 18 years practising in the UK before returning to Calcutta: “Costs are significantly lower in the city compared to anywhere else in the world, but the quality of treatment is the same because most experts have been trained in reputed institutes abroad.”
In the past year, city specialists have handled over 2,000 cases in 15-odd private clinics and hospitals, against 1,000 a year and a half ago. The city boasts enough private clinics to take the competition to the larger names like Apollo Gleneagles, Kothari, AMRI and CMRI, as all of them offer surgery that promises to make one look better. The costs range from Rs 5,000 to Rs 75,000.