Once upon a time, long long ago, in the medieval period between 950-1050 AD, a beautiful damsel was born in the heart of India, in Madhya Pradesh at a small town named Khajuraho, that was then under the rule of the Chandela dynasty. Slowly she grew up to be such a beauty that people from all over the world would queue up at Khajuraho to get a glimpse of her. She would spend long hours in front of her mirror lovingly gazing at herself and refining the endowments bestowed upon her by the Almighty. But then, how long could her youth last!? She was already around a thousand years old and signs of old age were slowly appearing, making her unhappy. Though the visitors were still flocking in huge numbers to admire her, she waited in silence for someone to tend to her personally and restore her to her former beauty and grace! And then, finally, her long wait came to an end.
Just three decades ago, was a time when Aesthetic Surgery was looked down upon as pure vanity, even at larger training institutes and centres of excellence in Plastic Surgery. Even a slight whisper of the word would evoke frowns and chides from the professors.
However starting in the early 1990s, a determined and dedicated lot of plastic surgeons with a special interest in aesthetic surgery started demanding at every Association of Plastic Surgeons’ of India (APSI) annual conference that special attention be given to aesthetic surgery in India. Their demands were thought of as unjustified initially, the logic being given that India was a developing country where demand for aesthetic surgery would be nearly nonexistent. More importantly it was believed that there were so many patients of burns and trauma who needed reconstruction and should be the ones that plastic surgeons should give attention and priority to. However, this group of “#Warriors for the lady with the mirror” were a tough lot! The kind that do not give up!
Finally, on 28th September 1995 the prayers of our “lady with the mirror.”were answered when this group of aesthetic surgery enthusiasts went ahead to form the Indian Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (IAAPS). In it’s formative year, the association comprised of a handful members with Dr S S Sethi as the president, Dr Devansh as the secretary and Dr Rakesh Sandhir as the treasurer who held these posts till year 2000. Thence took off the journey of fame of the Lady with the mirror. The first IAAPS workshop was organized at Apollo Hospital, Hyderabad where the artistic perspective of aesthetic surgery was impressed upon the delegates. The young plastic surgeons for the first time got exposure to the ratios and proportions and scientific basis of beauty. There were special scientific sessions on clay modelling and Leonardo Da Vinci’s proportions of human body. These efforts bore results and slowly and steadily the numbers of plastic surgeons queuing up for this association started increasing. As more workshops and conferences on aesthetic surgeries started getting organized, the training standards and interest in aesthetic surgery improved in India. Needless to say these efforts brought more smiles to our “lady with the mirror.”
Five years passed like this and with so many aesthetic surgeons dedicated to her, the lady with the mirror had now started looking and feeling much better. As her confidence grew, she wanted more prominence in the circle of aesthetic surgery. The society obliged her by making her a part of the IAAPS logo in the year 2000 on suggestion of the second president of IAAPS, Dr Suresh Gupta. This further improved our lady’s confidence. Then came a phase where regular conferences with national and international faculties started getting organized and membership rules were re-defined to allow younger aesthetic surgery aspirants to become IAAPS members and learn the tricks of the trade. In the 2000s refinements in aesthetic surgery techniques like shift to minimal access facelift, utilization of fat grafting for rejuvenation, improvement in liposuction equipment/techniques and exploration of utility of plasma for various indications were taking place. This period also saw an exponential rise in aesthetic medicine procedures like use of botulinum toxins(which got approved by FDA in 2002), hyaluronic acid fillers and chemical peels that could be done as office procedures and make our lady prim and proper in a blink of an eye. While these scientific advancements were improving the quality of results and safety of aesthetic surgeries the world over, efforts of IAAPS were strengthening the hold of this specialty in India. The combined result of these two events happening simultaneously (albeit mutually exclusively) brought about an exponential increase in aesthetic surgeries in India.
It has been 25 years since the formation of IAAPS paved the way for improving the training and standards of aesthetic surgery in India. Not only has the number of IAAPS members increased from a handful to over five hundred in the past twenty five years but there has been a serious effort to help these surgeons train by organizing annual conferences with world class faculty and workshops/fellowship programs conducted under the aegis of IAAPS. From those days where even, the mention of the word aesthetic surgery by a curious resident was frowned upon and when chapters on aesthetic surgeries were conveniently left out by the residents a day before exam as there was 100% guarantee that no question would be expected on the taboo subject next day, we have come a long way! Aesthetic surgery is not only being recognized now but is being celebrated as one of the highest forms of art available on the face of planet Earth. IAAPS has played a major role in bringing about this change. This year of covid challenge has also opened a new channel of learning for the members by weekly webinars most appropriately titled as the “Aesthetic Pathshala” with experts from all over the world sharing their knowledge and experiences with the IAAPS fraternity. To improve up-on research and academics, the association is also coming up with a dedicated journal of its own, soon.
These activities of the association have helped the general public by bringing about awareness about safe aesthetic surgery practices in India. IAAPS is a platform where people can find certified plastic surgeons specializing in aesthetic surgery and also authentic information about various cosmetic surgery procedures. This information can save them from fraudulent untrained people who pose as plastic surgeons and do surgeries that lands an unsuspecting person into complications. Thousands of people operated upon by IAAPS members have had improved body image, self-confidence and sometimes even better career and outlook to life. It has improved upon their quality of life.
Our lady with the mirror now has hundreds of well-trained aesthetic surgeons to attend to her needs spread across most parts of the country. A close look at her says that she looks more beautiful and youthful than she did a quarter century back! And the reasons are obvious. She can now safely undergo a session of botulinum toxin injections or fillers or maybe a little bit of liposuction, or a breast lift or even a facelift or a tummy tuck at her convenience with experts in the country. No doubt our lady’s smile is getting better with every passing day as her frown muscles, depressor anguli oris , crow’s feet, nasolabial folds, love handles, sagging breasts are well taken care of now! And not just her… the ladies and gentlemen across the country are all smiles as aesthetic surgery with well-trained surgeons has become a reality now. And IAAPS isn’t going to stop here! This is just the beginning. Over the coming years we at IAAPS aim to provide world class affordable aesthetic surgery practices all across the country! So much so for the smiles of the “ladies” and also for “gentlemen” with the mirrors, not just in the heart of India but in every part of the country!
Long live IAAPS!
Dr Neha Chauhan
Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Bangalore