Hindustan Times, April 18 2007, MUMBAI
Care for some freshly squeezed juice with your BOTOX? Fancy a shiatsu massage to soothe the nerves before the needles prick?
India’s first “BOTOX LOUNGE” opened in Mumbai recently, offering the city’s rapidly growing tribe of eternal youth seekers a spa-like setting where doctors banish signs of age.
“The lounge doesn’t have a trace of a hospital’s look or feel,” said the venue’s promoter, Dr Debraj Shome.
While BOTOX and other treatments, including facelifts and cosmetic surgery, are commonplace in the West, many Indians are experimenting with these procedures for the first time.
As incomes surge among India’s middle and upper classes, more people are clamouring for beauty services, including some that would have been inconceivable and unaffordable a few years ago.
The “lounge” is yet another sign of growing affluence in Mumbai, India’s sprawling financial capital and the hub of the country’s prolific film industry, Bollywood, and its glamour and fashion scene.
Up until the 1990s, when INDIA began opening up its economy, most beauty treatments for women were rudimentary at best: a visit to the usually spartan neighbourhood parlour for a monthly clip and pluck. But things have changed.
Now, women are spending freely in a bid to boost their confidence and careers. Professionals, university students, homemakers and women in the public eye have embraced the new era with fervour and a touch of hedonism.
BOTOX, with its promise of youth and rejuvenation, is a growing favourite. BOTOX users fork out 9,000 rupees (about $215) for a dose that’s effective for up to six months. Compare that to a regular facial, which costs about 800 rupees.
Upscale beauty chain Kaya offers BOTOX treatments in each of its 45 clinics across INDIA and says about five clients use the service every day, up from a single customer a day in 2005.
“Though the absolute numbers are still small, the rate of growth has been very encouraging,” said CEO Rakesh Pandey.
Still, there remains a stigma attached to using BOTOX, with some women wary about the method of delivery – an injection – while others are concerned about its long-term effects.
To help allay fears, Kaya has aggressively marketed the product, and even threw a BOTOX theme party at a ritzy Mumbai restaurant where guests included some of the city’s glitteratti such as television celebrity Pooja Bedi.
“A lot of people used to go abroad for treatment, now they are much more comfortable about getting it in INDIA, ,” said Bedi, 36, mother of two, and an unabashed BOTOX user.
“But at least we’re hearing less about those lunchtime BOTOX parties, where women gather and inject each other,” she added.