"What we are seeing now (in medical tourism) is just the beginning. At the Apollo Victor hospital in Goa, where I do surgery, over 90 percent of the patients are British expatriates," Pandya, on a visit here, told IANS in an interview here.
While the lower costs in India were a major factor in attracting medical tourists, Pandya said there was also a difference in the approach to patients.
"In the US the patient is only a number. In the East, we are more involved with them as humans. It makes a difference."
Pandya said Indian physicians and surgeons treated a large number of patients, giving them a definite advantage over their American counterparts.
"An American surgeon for example will not be performing more than 15 cleft lip operations in an entire year. My resident-in-training in Mumbai performs more than 500 cleft operations in a year. Where is the comparison?"
"The on-the-job medical training in India is infinitely better. People in the US cannot grasp the quantum of work we do. We also have only 24 hours," he pointed out.
He said he was increasingly seeing more patients from the West flocking to India for treatment, such as dentistry, cosmetic surgery, joint replacements and eye surgery, given the low costs and the world class facilities available.
"A nose job costs $8,000 in the US while it cost $1,500 in India. If you trust me in Chicago for $8,000 dollars, how am I, as a physician, inferior in India?" he asked.
In fact, on this visit, Pandya had scheduled consultations with prospective patients in Boston, followed by similar consultations in London.
The desire for cosmetic surgery, said the surgeon, was "commensurate with affluence". "If you do not have enough to eat, you do not worry about your nose," said the skilled surgeon.
But he added that cosmetic surgery had won wide acceptance among both women and men in India.
Although the favourite cosmetic surgeon to Bollywood stars, Pandya said he normally did not have the time to attend Bollywood concerts or watch movies.
But on his visit here, he squeezed in time to attend the Rockstars concert, on a special invitation from the participating stars.
"I have a professional association with almost 90 percent of Bollywood stars," the doctor said diplomatically.
Pandya, who holds a diploma from the American Board of Plastic Surgery, had trained under Sumner Koch at Northwestern University in Chicago and was an assistant director at the Cook County Hospital Burns unit in the late 1960s.
Despite a successful career in the US, Pandya and his wife (a gynaecologist) decided to go back to India in 1971 where he began his career treating burns and leprosy-affected patients.
Later, he shifted to rhinoplasty (nose jobs) and then began sculpting faces, and was branded India's 'father of plastic surgery'.
(Source: IANS News)