Then, there was also a time, we would read about aging film actors getting a Botox treatment to get their wrinkles removed. But this is available more easily now.
Going by what doctors and those in the healthcare business tell us, beauty is no more a preserve of the rich and famous. In fact, it is the young Indians across the sections of society, eager for a chiseled look, that are changing the dynamics of this market.
In fact, Dr. Ajaya Kashyap, director, cosmetic and plastic surgery at Fortis Memorial Research Institute at Gurgoan, was quite intrigued by a father - in simple clothes and looking a bit gruff - who had come for a facial sculpting procedure on his daughter in 20s.
Sensing surprise in the eyes of the doctor, the father said, "doctor, don't go by our clothes we can afford it. In fact, I am presenting my would be son-in-law with a BMW 737."
Dr Kashyap told me that he sees 10 new patients every day and these numbers are up by 30 per cent over the past five years. And, if you will look at the profile of the people seeking such procedures, he says, 50 per cent are young people, mostly men in their 20s and 30s with total clarity on how they want to look and where the changes are needed.
"Historically, cosmetic surgeries were done for two kinds of patients - either those who had suffered trauma or were left with a disfigured face or it used to be for the rich who were desperate to get a better look. But what we notice now is more upper middle income and middle income people wanting such treatments," says Neeraj Garg, CEO of Apollo Health & Lifestyle.
He is seeing a clear shift in the drivers behind this demand and says: "You see people doing it now not because they have a bad-looking face but just because they want to look better. This is the big change that one is seeing over the past five years from corrective surgery to aesthetic surgery and the segment is probably growing at 15 to 20 per cent a year."
Many non-surgical interventions like Botox injections or procedures to make skin look younger that could be done in an out-patient setting (procedures that can be done in a clinic) are also gaining popularity.
The procedures are not cheap but people, many of them young Indians, are more than willing to spend. Further, most payments for treatments are done in cash because cosmetic corrections and procedures do not fall under health care and are unlikely to be reimbursed by an insurance company.
Costs for the treatment range from as low as Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 for some types of Botox treatment and facial sculpting and may go up to about Rs1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh for getting teeth redone or a nose job.
Prices varies depending on where the procedure is done and the kind of treatment required. And if one wants the cheek bones to look higher or a treatment on the forehead and rest of the face is also included, the total bill may well cross Rs 10 lakh.
While there are no clear estimates of the size of the Indian beauty market, if we could describe it in this fashion, since there are drugs available across the counter and there are those that are prescribed. Some unconfirmed estimates suggest it could be a Rs 7,000 crore to Rs 8,000 crore market. But, if you are looking for a specific number, here is one: the market for the prescription medication in cosmetic dermatology (skin care) is close to Rs 3,000 crore, according to AIOCD AWACS, the market research entity that tracks retail pharma sales in India.