“The joy in the eyes of those who seek my services purely for the enhancement of their self-esteem delights me. My practice is more than just a profession for me.”
Dr Vijay Sharma (Founder, Changing Looks)
From an early fascination with the intricacies of anatomy to becoming a celebrated figure in the realm of cosmetic surgery, Dr Vijay Sharma’s journey is one of determination, innovation, and artistic flair. Right from his school days, he found himself drawn to the delicate art of dissection of frogs and other animals. Upon arriving in Bombay, now Mumbai, Dr Vijay found his place as a plastic surgeon at Jaslok Hospital, where he honed his skills in reconstructions, trauma care, and cancer-related surgeries. But destiny had bigger plans for him.
The turning point arrived when he secured a fellowship at Manchester University, delving into the realm of microvascular surgery. Amidst delving deep into reattaching fingers and limbs, he stumbled upon the welcoming world of cosmetic surgery. Sooner, the entire universe of aesthetic enhancement- Facelifts, silicone breast implants, blepharoplasty and liposuction, lip designing, and lip enhancement unfolded. As he has always loved learning and exploring new things, he immersed himself more in it when his decisions about looks were correct.
His retrospective studies, while harnessing cutting-edge technology, including three-dimensional imaging helped him ensure accurate surgeries. His intellect combined with his commitment to deliver transformative results gave birth to many Bollywood stars and everyday heroes alike. He holds a specialisation in lipo-sculpting, facelift, lip-grafting, hair transplantation, sclerotherapy, chemical peeling, buttock lift, breast reduction, incisional laser surgery, dermo-surgery, body contouring, eyebrow lift, neck reconstruction, rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, lipolysis, autoplasty, forehead plasty, eyelid surgery, face reconstruction, and liposuction. He is also the Record Holder in the Limca Book of World Records for Highest Cosmetic Surgeries, 2003.
In 1987, he founded Changing Looks, a one-stop solution for all health and beauty problems. Located in the heart of Mumbai, the centre enhances people’s looks with the art and science of surgical sculpting.
In a conversation with Dr Vijay Sharma, we explored his groundbreaking innovation in the field of nose surgery, his extensive career and some principles that he believes in.
Could you please share with us the groundbreaking innovations you have introduced in the field of nose surgery?
Let me take you back to how nose surgery used to be done traditionally. We would make a cut at the base of the nose and then do a complex procedure where we separated the cartilage and bone from the skin. Back in the 1980s, we had to use tools like chisels and hammers. The most difficult was the post-operative care. After the surgery, we used to stop the nose with the packing, which made it hard for patients to breathe. Imagine trying to eat or drink while not being able to breathe through your nose – it was very uncomfortable.
One night, I thought what if we could do things differently? Instead of cutting from the outside, what if we made a small cut inside the mouth, near the gum and lip? What could go wrong with this? All my colleagues and seniors were worried, saying there could be risks like blood going into the throat and causing breathing issues. But my wife, Dr Vandana Sharma, who is also a surgeon, stood by me and assured me that we could handle it.
Fortunately, we had a very brave volunteer patient who agreed that with just the local anaesthesia, we could design her nose. So, we started a new way of doing nose surgery. We created a tunnel from inside the mouth and worked on reshaping the nose from there. We filed down the bone very carefully. And to make sure things stayed clean, we used suction to keep everything in check. And the best part… Only one stitch was needed in the mouth, so breathing wasn’t a problem anymore.
This new technique came as a big breakthrough. American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery invited me to Orlando. On 17 January 2008, the operation was introduced. We showed how it worked in other countries too, like Korea, China, Malaysia and many others. What’s incredible is that if someone ever wants to go back to their original nose shape, we can easily remove the implant.
I must say that Dr Vandana’s support has been nothing short of extraordinary. I attribute a significant 50% of the credit for the development and support of this groundbreaking operating procedure to her.
In your extensive career, you must have treated famous celebrities. Could you share some insights into your interactions with these people?
There’s a common misconception about celebrities and superstars that they are highheaded. In reality, they are very sensible and down-to-earth. I recall an incident when I was very busy in surgery, and a celebrity patiently waited for two hours in my clinic without any fuss. I must say they are not high-headed, they are overburdened and overstressed. Dealing with thousands of fans and constant attention can be tedious and exhausting. My experiences with celebrity patients have been nothing but positive.
In one of the interesting instances, a famous celebrity underwent a series of procedures, including a nose job, jawline enhancement, and lip design. However, she got another surgery done overseas that left her with a nasal issue. I remember she came to me and very bravely said she would tolerate the procedure without anaesthesia. This left me shocked. We performed the surgery with minimal topical Xylocaine on the surface, and her determination was truly admirable.
This incident highlights the lengths to which these stars go for beauty. Pain is a minor challenge for them. Behind the glitz and glamour, there is a great deal of tolerance and hard work. It’s not easy at all. I believe, that while we often see the glamour and fame associated with being a celebrity, it’s crucial to acknowledge the challenges they face. We all should respect that and approach them with empathy and understanding.
Do celebrities and high-profile individuals put forth some over-expectations? How do you address them?
Not just celebrities, every person comes with some expectations. Our job is to ground these aspirations in the reality of what surgery can achieve and the limitations it entails. Cosmetic surgery is often a one-way journey. Transforming from one look to another is a process that may not always be reversible, except for specific procedures. Therefore, we always recommend our patients make informed and thoughtful decisions before proceeding.
Another significant aspect is the recovery process. After we perform the surgery, it takes a certain time for patients to heal. They may experience discomfort. I always put forth the real picture of the healing process to avoid any disappointment later. I encourage open and honest conversations with my patients and take the time to make them visualise the realistic picture before embarking on the journey of cosmetic transformation. Only after thoroughly understanding the potential outcomes and implications of the surgery, I recommend patients to make decisions that align with their personal goals and values.
Awards and Accolades Won By Dr Vijay
In an expansive 37 years of career, Dr Vijay has won innumerable awards. However, what stays at the top is – client satisfaction. “The joy in the eyes of those who seek my services purely for the enhancement of their self-esteem delights me. My practice is more than just a profession for me,” he smiles. He has won many awards:
- ‘Great Cosmetic Surgeon Award’ and ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ at the 8th World Congress of the Ho Chi Minh Society of Plastic & Aesthetic Surgery, The International College of Cosmetic Surgery, The Asia-Pacific Academy of Cosmetic Surgery in 2012
- ‘National President Appreciation Award’ at the 87th Annual National Conference of Indian Medical Association held at Kanyakumari in 2012
- ‘Man of the Year in Medicine & Health Care’ by The American Biographical Institute in 2010
- ‘Rashtriya Chikistak Ratna Award’ by CEDR – Pune
- International Teacher – Master Classes in Facelift Cosmetic Surgery in 2007
- International Board Director of the International Academy of Cosmetic Surgery in 2004
- Among the Top Ten Cosmetic Surgeons of the World according to the International Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Varna in 2003
- ‘Best Aesthetic Surgeon in Asia’ award in Tokyo, Japan, 2000 by the International Society of Aesthetic Surgery
- Leader in Cosmetic Surgery in India by International Academy of Cosmetic Surgery – Invited Speaker – Berlin, 2001 at World Congress of European Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.
- Miembro de Honor (Member of Honor) – South American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery in October 2000, Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Maharashtra Ratna (Jewel of State) awarded by the Government – by Shri Pramod Navalkar, Cultural Minister Government of Maharashtra, and Shri K. Shantaram, Maharashtra Kala Niketan
- Saundaryashilpy (Beauty Sculpture at Par Excellence) by the Indian Association of Cosmetic Surgery
- Record Holder in Limca Book of World Records for Highest Cosmetic Surgeries, 2003.
- Holder of Limca Book of World Records for First Human Fat Tissue Bank, 2003.