The Chinese economy is now the second-largest in the world, ahead of Japan and second only to the United States, and with that success there have been massive shifts in the country’s social landscape. Luxuries like cars, houses, and travel have become the norm, but you may be surprised at the fourth great luxury in contemporary China. There has been an explosion in the use of plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures, as millions of Chinese seek to reinvent themselves.
China ranks third worldwide for cosmetic surgery, with over 2 million operations performed each year, according to a 2009 estimate by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. However, as a New York Times article points out, the number of operations has annually doubled in recent years, so that the 2009 estimate is seriously outdated for 2011.
Plastic surgery has become the fourth most popular use for discretionary spending in China, according to Ma Xiaowei, the country’s vice health minister, as it trails behind houses, cars, and travel.
With their distinct facial features and unique cultural background, China’s cosmetic surgery clientele have different priorities than Western patients. Like many Chinese-Americans living in New York, China’s plastic surgery patients often request double eyelid surgery, which adds a crease to the eyelid. This makes the eyes appear larger and more prominent, a look that is very popular among the Chinese. Unlike their Western counterparts, Chinese patients tend to prefer rhinoplasties that make the nose look more prominent. Reshaping the jawline to look narrower and longer is also very popular.
Unfortunately, regulation of the industry in China is weak and scattershot, and the country abounds with unlicensed practitioners, faulty or obsolete equipment, and outright malpractice.