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"I'm getting a special gift for my 18th birthday next month. I have been trying to persuade my parents to agree for the last three years and they finally gave in. I'm getting breast implants," says Sarita Thakkar*, a Mumbai-based girl.
Sudha Shreyas* is a 20-year-old aspiring model, who also plans on trying her luck in Bollywood. She too is going in for breast augmentation surgery.
And 22-year-old Amrita Juneja* is getting breast implants because her boyfriend is unhappy with her figure!
Say hello to the new age Indian woman, who doesn't bat an eyelid when it comes to opting for surgery to enhance her appearance.
A few years ago it was usually older women, battling with the effects of breastfeeding and sagging bustlines, who opted for the procedure. Today cosmetic surgeons say that more and more young girls are visiting their clinics to enhance their breasts and attain a well-endowed figure.
Dr Milind Vag, plastic and aesthetic surgeon at L H Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai says, "In the last couple of years there has been a steady increase in the number of young girls coming in for breast enhancement. In my 15-year long practice I've never come across a trend like this; sometimes I have girls as young as 16 coming to me for breast implants."
He adds that it is a myth that only those who aspire to a career in modelling or films opt for breast enhancement. "While several aspiring models and actresses do go in for implants, there are many girls who are just unhappy with their bodies and want to look better, either for the sake of their boyfriends or simply for themselves."
Heena Rai*, 21, works at a BPO. "I always wanted a bigger, better bust line and since my parents couldn't afford the procedure, I'd promised myself that I would go in for breast augmentation when I earned enough money. The month I got my first salary I went to a reputed hospital and got it done. I haven't done it for anybody else; neither am I interested in a career in films or modelling. I just wanted to look better, I've done it for myself."
Lure of the glamour industry
Ask Sudha the reason behind her surgery and she says, "I want to be an actor -- in films or on television. I need to look glamorous and a good bust line in critical." Try reasoning with her that to be an actor she needs to hone her acting skills more than her bust line and pat comes the reply -- "In today's glamour industry looks are more important." She cites the example of an ex-Miss Universe who went in for breast implants to boost her career in Bollywood. You may think that the young are impulsive and make rash decisions, but they have their arguments in place and you can't fight their logic. They know what they want and they make sure they get it.
Dr Samir Kumtha, cosmetic surgeon at hospitals Leelavati and Jaslok, Mumbai, says, "Young girls today are very image-conscious and want to sport the glam look. The glamour industry beckons and those who don't have the perfect bust line head for a cosmetic surgeon. One of my youngest clients was a 15-year-old and I did my best to discourage her. She was too young and I tried to explain that her body had to mature to its fullest before she could get any surgical enhancement done. She was very adamant."
Though the young girl finally left Dr Kumtha's clinic with her mother, he is of the opinion that she must have got her breasts enhanced by some other surgeon. Both Dr Samir and Dr Milind say that the younger lot are very stubborn about getting the perfect look. They add, "The glamour industry lures young girls and the promise of big bucks along with instant fame is too much to resist -- they want to have it all at any cost. So if a less than perfect figure is the hindrance, then a corrective procedure is easily available."
The surgeons say that young girls come to their clinics with their mothers, who usually betray no signs of objection to their daughters' desire for implants. Says Dr Samir, "In fact, quite a few girls come in with mothers who are actually the ones insisting that their daughters get breast implants, as they feel that smaller breast size will hinder good marriage proposals."
While mothers are increasingly becoming more conscious of their looks and figures and don't hesitate opting for corrective procedures to get the perfect pout, shapely nose, flab-free tummy or iron out wrinkles, their daughters are following in their footsteps, albeit a tad too early. Dr Shetty, a leading Mumbai-based psychologist says, "As a society we are becoming more and more image-conscious. When mothers are obsessed with their figures and looks how can they stop their daughters from going in for cosmetic procedures?"
Is it safe?
So here's the most important question -- are breast implants safe? Both Dr Milind and Dr Samir are of the opinion that recent developments in the field have made breast implants a lot safer and easier to manage than they were earlier. Dr Milind says, "Earlier liquid gels were used and there was a risk of leakage followed by infection. Today silicone and saline gels are commonly used, though the former is preferred."
Is it a risky procedure and are there are any side effects? Explains Dr Samir, "It is a very safe procedure and in ordinary cases there are no side effects. It also doesn't interfere with future pregnancies, lactation and breastfeeding. The implant is inserted behind the breast muscle."
Dr Milind says that just like in any other surgical procedure, breast implants need to be taken care of post surgery. A certain kind of massage has to be performed on the patient and care should be taken that the breast isn't exposed to any sudden impact. "The young girls are only interested in getting the perfect look and figure. They often don't do what is asked of them post surgery and this can lead to complications," he says.
The youngsters who undergo breast augmentation don't seem to be wary of any possible dangers after the procedure. Says Sarita matter-of-factly, "No risk no gain. Many women die at the time of delivery -- that doesn't mean that women stop having babies. Go to a reputed hospital and get the procedure done by a qualified doctor -- then there's no risk."
The girls are surprisingly cool and confident about going under the surgeon's knife. Today's youth want to look good and aren't afraid of taking risks. So the reasons are varied -- to look good, to please a boyfriend or to get into the modelling and movie industry -- but the fact remains that many young girls want to get a breast job done at all costs and peer pressure also plays a very big role. If a girl feels that most of her friends are well endowed while she isn't, she is willing to go to any lengths to increase the size of her bustline. Like Heena says, "When I look into the mirror, I should be able to say 'wow'!"
*Names changed to protect privacy.
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