Buying bigger butts
Tyrone Thompson, Gleaner Writer
Jamaicans seek bank loans to get plastic surgeons to increase the size of their buttocks as the demand for cosmetic surgery rises.
The harsh economic climate facing the country has not dampened the desire for physical perfection as more and more Jamaicans flock to plastic surgeons to change their look.
While emphasising that not all forms of plastic surgeries are necessarily cosmetic, plastic and hand surgeon Dr Jan Hochtritt, who practises in St Andrew and Montego Bay, St James, told The Sunday Gleaner that at least 50 per cent of the procedures he has had requests for in the past year have been cosmetic.
This is in sharp contrast to international statistics which show that only 20 per cent of plastic surgeries performed worldwide are cosmetic.
"There are a lot of requests for liposuction and lipo-filling, for tummy tucks, breast lifts, breast augmentation, but what I have seen in the past year has been an increased desire for a certain body type that has always been popular in Jamaica, and that is for large buttocks.
"So now women who may have a little too much fat around the belly want to move that fat and place it in the buns. This is called a Brazilian but-lift and it has generated a lot of interest," said Hochtritt.
While explaining that the prices associated with the procedures do seem exorbitant from an average Jamaican perspective, they were still up to 40 per cent cheaper than in the United States.
"I had a special in December called the 'mummy makeover' that was very popular, because it was the combination of a tummy tuck and a breast augmentation for women who reach a certain age and are faced with changes in their bodies, and that was for US$5,999, which is much cheaper than in the States, where the cost of those procedures could easily be above US$10,000," explained Hochtritt.
JAMAICAN DIASPORA MAIN TARGET
"Right now my company is also targeting the Jamaican diaspora. Those persons who come back on a regular basis, who will want to take advantage of these lower prices, so we have contracts with hotels for persons to stay there and do their requested procedures and make it a holiday experience. So far we have already had persons coming in from England to take up this offer so the framework has been established."
Hochtritt noted that despite high interest from all sectors of society, most of his clients come from a certain social strata.
"Persons from all classes are interested and I get a lot of requests from all over Jamaica, but what I have found is that it is mostly middle to upper-class persons are most able to afford it, not necessarily just from Kingston but also from Mandeville and Montego Bay.
"But at the same time, we don't discriminate because you would be surprised that sometimes people who you would think can't afford it come up with the money, maybe they find sponsors I don't know. But also, if persons come in and have a steady income, then I can hook them up with the banks, and the banks have provided loans for these procedures in the past."
Dr Rajeeve Venugopal, who has been practising plastic surgery for more than 12 years, agreed the persons from all social classes have sought his services for cosmetic purposes.
"There is a wide cross section of persons who do in fact seek out and request theses procedures, it is definitely not just the elite," said Venugopal.
That view was shared by another plastic surgeon operating in Kingston who asked not to be named.
PRACTICAL PLASTIC SURGERY
"The demand is from all strata of society, because what you have to remember is that plastic surgery is not just about the cosmetic but there is also reconstructive surgeries, where persons with cuts in their faces or burns on their bodies want to have those fixed, and so those make up a substantial number of the cases that we see."
While unwilling to state the prices for his services, the plastic surgeon said arrangements can be made for persons with limited resources.
"When it comes to pricing I prefer people to come in because a large part of that determination will be the amount of work that would be necessary, and in any case, what we try to do for patients who can't afford the full price is that we work out payment plans, so that these procedures are attainable for everybody."
However, the plastic surgeon was quick to point out that patients needed to temper their expectations as there are limits to what plastic surgery can do.
"Sometimes you have people come in with a picture of Beyoncé and say this is what they would like to look like, and it's unrealistic, based on what they started from. We can improve them but it's always dangerous to promise perfection."