July 15 has been recognised as World Plastic Surgery Day. In honour of the day, we talked to Dr Viral Desai, a renowned plastic surgeon with nearly 2 decades of experience and holds M.S., D.N.B., and M.Ch degrees in cosmetic and plastic surgery and is also a renowned hair transplant surgeon.
There are misconceptions about plastic surgery in mainstream media: Why do you think that is so… do you feel the idea is changing?
I don’t know if that holds anymore, misconceptions were there a few years back when people didn’t really understand what plastic and cosmetic surgery was. Today, more people are aware that plastic surgery can be labelled into two categories – reconstructive and aesthetic/cosmetic surgery.
When it comes to reconstructive surgery, we do implants. treat burn victims, cancer patients and more. There is no negativity whatsoever surrounding this aspect of plastic surgery.
If there is a misconception, it is regarding cosmetic and aesthetic surgery when people think it is only done on and for celebrities.
What are the most common plastic surgery procedures that are performed?
It differs from men and women.
For men, hair transplant, liposuction, nose jobs, man-boob correction, neck or eyelid lifts are the most common.
In women, breast surgery (implants, augmentation, tightening or reduction), liposuction or body contouring, tummy tucks, rhinoplasty, facial contouring (high cheekbones, jawline, etc.) are common.
What is the risk and reward ratio when it comes to such surgeries?
Some have moderate risks and rewards. Risks are mostly minimal and rewards are high if you go to a trained surgeon.
When patients are unhappy with the results, it is mostly because of their expectations. You can’t expect to weigh 100 kgs and go to size zero with liposuction.
Plastic surgery is more than that. It involves consultation, counselling and then making an informed decision.
Is plastic surgery meant for the urban and elite alone?
Not necessarily. Pro bono cases are also done. But pro bono surgeries are common only for reconstruction, not aesthetics. Eg, to fix a cleft palate.
Aesthetic cosmetic surgeries are not pro bono.
What are the most common and lesser-known challenges that plastic surgeons face?
Very few understand that plastic surgery is a super-speciality as well and is one of the 6-7 super speciality fields in India. Most people see plastic surgery only as aesthetic surgery and not restorative.
Plastic surgeons are often called ‘Ghost Surgeons’ by other surgeons as many non-qualified people claim to know how to do our job.
There is an idea that there is lots of money in this field which attracts unqualified people to open up places like hair transplant centres, liposuction centres, etc. This in turn leads to horror stories coming up, tainting the image of plastic surgery on a whole. I would suggest people educate themselves.
Super-specialists are there for a reason, when complications arise, we know how to solve them. It is important for patients and customers to verify and only go to board-approved and registered doctors.
Another issue is that when something does go wrong, only cases of failure are reported. The 99 cases of success are ignored while the 1 case of failure is often picked on.
How has covid impacted plastic surgeons?
When it comes to reconstructive surgery, whether there is covid or no covid, it continues as it is essential.
As for aesthetic surgery, a lot of plastic surgeons stopped operating as it was considered non-essential and a luxury service. Since it is an elective procedure that can wait, there is no point doing it now.
As for when things opened up after last year’s lockdown and this time as well, there is a surge of people opting for aesthetic
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