Despite incessant ranting and raving about cosmetic surgery, there is a swell in the number of desperate souls going under the knife, discovers P. Sujatha Varma

Growing old is unacceptable to most of us. It's as if we've been trained to fear aging. But time ticks in and the bell will ultimately toll. Age doesn't spare anyone. As we grow older, the skin loses its youthful flush and starts to sag. Fine creases and lines appear, and they're no longer seen as a manifestation of a life well-lived.

“We're in this crazy youth-driven thing now where everybody needs to look 30 at 60,” scoffs V. Radhika, a young mother troubled by the growing rage among young and middle-aged alike to enhance their physical features. “Natural beauty and spotless looks have almost vanished from our planet. Looks like virgin beauty untouched by cosmetic procedures will soon be a thing of the past.”

You may declare that you are not fiddling about with yourself. But there are others who feel that it is easy to throw stones when you are on top of the mountain. So is it correct to involve needle and knife to enhance physical features or to reduce signs of aging and if so, to what extent?

“If it's done in a conservative, tasteful way, plastic surgery can help people preserve their youthful beauty,” says P.M.C. Naidu, a cosmetic surgeon from city-based Aakrithi Laser & Cosmetic Surgery Centre at Suryaraopet.

A plastic surgeon relies on his skill, training and experience to perform the operation to improve and enhance the appearance of his patient, he says.

Citing the example of a 23-year-old girl who visited his clinic recently for liposuction, he says the girl is short and weighs 85 kg. “Native of a sleepy village in Tenali, she works as a teacher and is apparently aware of the aesthetic surgeries available in the city.” Under local anaesthesia the surgeon removed 10 litres of fat deposits from beneath her skin using a hollow stainless steel tube called a cannula and a powerful vacuum. The girl went home happily promising to return for a second sitting after a gap of three months. “She is eager to chuck out another 10 litres of excess fat,” he says.

Many youngsters in the city are tempted by the surgeon's knife but are holding back for fear of elders at home. “I am intrigued by cosmetic surgery but my parents will kill me even if I talk about it,” says a desperate teenager.

“I want to look my best but I don't want to go down the scary route and have knives plunged into me. I don't mind ageing. I don't want to chase youth. Anyway, I find it chases me,” chuckles M. Lavanya, blessed with a radiant and unblemished skin.

Dr. Naidu shows the before and after images of men and women alike. He can correct birth defects or repair what time has damaged, he says. “It is now possible to reshape and bring back the youthful, true you,” he emphasises.

People come to his clinic asking for tummy tuck, nose job, facelift, brow lift, cheek implant, lip job, breast implant and laser treatment. “Many of them do get carried away by the razzle-dazzle of the celebrity world,” says P.J.M. Rani, a gynaecologist and Dr. Naidu's better half. She assists him in the surgeries. “Around 20 per cent of them don't know what they really want and just go shopping. Especially for rhinoplasty, they name a film actress demanding that their nose be shaped like hers.”

The two doctors say they talk extensively with people opting for liposuction and tell them about dieting and exercising as alternatives. But those who aren't satisfied with themselves even after that opt for a liposuction.

Cosmetic surgery to enhance looks is a subject bound to invite pro and anti voices. But in the end, it should be left to an individual whether she or he wants to tread that extra mile to look attractive.