The market for skin-lightening in India is $500M a year. Now, there’s an even more dangerous and expensive way Indians are trying to look “better.”
The alarming trend growing in India is limb lengthening, a generally unregulated procedure that many are getting done despite the risks involved.
Mic.com reports that the reason this procedure is so popular among Indians is that they feel that being shorter hinders their marriage and career opportunities. This is a painful procedure that can take up to six months to complete.
Some of those who have gotten this done claim that they feel more confident with added height, and some are going so far as to sell family land in order to afford the operation.
“I was just 4-foot-6-inches. People used to make fun of me and I couldn’t get a job,” a 24 year old woman who added 3 inches to her height told the Guardian. “Now my younger sister is doing it too.”
The real danger comes from the fact that this is an unregulated procedure that can be crippling if not done correctly. The lack of oversight is leading many doctors in India to recommend against it.
“This is one of the most difficult cosmetic surgeries to perform, and people are doing it after just one or two months’ fellowship, following a doctor who is probably experimenting himself,” Dr. Amar Sarin, a Delhi-based orthopedic surgeon, told the Guardian. “There are no colleges, no proper training, nothing.”
“I feel cheated as I was never told about the adverse side-effects before the surgery,” a 22-year-old man told the Times of India. “I was told that pain would be little and tolerable, but it is far from truth.”
Experts think that the desire for this surgery comes from neocolonialism, which leaves Indians feeling inferior because they are shorter than Caucasians.
The average height of a woman in India is 5 feet 3 ½ inches, while the average height of a man is 5 feet 4 ¾ inches. While white women tend to be a little taller, it is among the men that the biggest difference can be found, with Caucasian men being on average 5 inches taller.
Despite the dangers, it does not look as though Indians are going to be turning away from this dangerous and painful procedure anytime soon.