THE TRAGIC death of a 22-year-old medical student in Chennai in a botched hair transplant surgery has brought the cosmetic treatment industry, which is mostly unregulated in the country, under the scanner. However, business is booming as more and more Indians take to the idea of botox, liposuction, tummy tucks, breast enhancement and hair transplants.
As per a report published by Frost & Sullivan in 2013, the Indian hair transplant market alone was estimated at Rs 453 crore in 2012-13. The consulting firm had projected the market to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 25% in the following years. Industry observers believe the figure has crossed well over Rs 800 crore now. The unorganised sector — mainly doctor-owned and managed stand-alone centres — accounts for 80% of the market. The rest is dominated by corporate chains and multi-specialty tertiary-care hospitals.
Overall, the beauty and wellness industry in India for products and services jointly stands at an estimated Rs 1.25 lakh crore, as per another report by Frost & Sullivan, with it growing at a CAGR of 18-20% in the past three to five years.
Normally, procedures like hair transplants are not considered life-threatening. As per experts, hair restoration is an absolutely safe procedure — the problem arises only when some centres, often masquerading as beauty parlours, spas and hair treatment centres, go unregulated.
In the recent incident, for instance, Advanced Robotic Hair Transplant Centre in Chennai — the centre where the student apparently underwent the procedure — had obtained a licence only to run a hair salon, which, incidentally, expired two months back. Despite having qualified doctors, the centre lacked the infrastructure to handle any complications resulting due to a surgery, say reports.
“Hair transplant is a very simple procedure. However, even a simple procedure can go wrong if basic hygiene and medical protocols are not followed,” says Dr Akshay Batra, managing director and vice-chairman of the Dr Batra’s group of companies, which specialises in homeopathic treatments, but is big on hair transplants. He adds: “Patient selection plays a very important role to make sure a hair transplant procedure is done successfully. We strongly believe that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to hair loss and each patient is treated on a case-by-case basis. We ensure that our patients undergo medical tests before undergoing the procedure.”
As per US-based market research firm Research and Markets, the estimated size of the cosmetic surgery industry is worth approximately Rs 460 crore, with the maximum revenue contributed by invasive or surgical procedures, as their costs are comparatively higher than the non-invasive procedures.
As per a survey conducted by Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, in December last year, 53% of the
people opting for such procedures viewed cosmetic surgery as an investment. “This is a definite proof that people are now looking at plastic surgery as a valid scientific means of improving appearance,” the survey noted. The survey involved an analysis of the evolving attitude of more than 700 residents from Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) towards cosmetic plastic surgery.