Monday, March 30, 2009

Plastic Surgery Booming

In a strange twist, the economic crisis is actually injecting new demand into China's fledgling plastic surgery industry.

From The Los Angeles Times:

Reporting from Shanghai -- In this crummy job market, Stephanie Yang figures any little advantage will help. Even double eyelids.

So on a cold January morning, the 21-year-old college senior walked into one of dozens of plastic surgery clinics here and plopped down $730, the equivalent of one year's tuition. An hour later she came out with two big bandages over her eyes.
When she removed the dressing the next day, Yang was aghast at her red, puffy eyelids. But now she looks out with her round eyes, a sharp crease across the upper lids, ready for the next interview.

"They may not say it openly, but during the process they will pick the prettier one," she says.

Judging by the boom in plastic surgeries lately, a lot of young Chinese would agree.

In the U.S., the recession has led to a steep drop in cosmetic surgeries, which generally aren't paid for by health insurers. Nose jobs aren't covered in China either, but that's not stopping consumers here. Job hunters know that a pleasing face helps to get a foot in the door.

"I've been surprised how busy it is," says Dr. Liao Yuhua, president of Shanghai Time Plastic Surgery Hospital, one of the largest in the city. Business began to increase last November, she says, and in recent weeks has been running 40% higher than a year ago. At its busiest in January, Liao says, her team of 10 surgeons was doing as many as 100 procedures a day, raising noses, cutting eyelids and chiseling angular faces into the shape of smooth goose eggs.

Read On
As a shorter guy (5'6"), I found this section particularly interesting/disturbing:
No wonder some Chinese pay thousands of dollars to have doctors break their legs and have steel pins inserted in their bones; these surgeries typically add 3 inches to a person's height but are considered very dangerous.
And this part is just insane:
Even for government jobs, applicants are graded for yibiao, or appearance. In one extreme example, Hunan province in central China required that its civil servants have "symmetrical breasts." The policy was scrapped after applicants protested a few years ago.
As an American, I don't really have much room to criticize excessive plastic surgery. But I find it pretty unfortunate that China is going down this path.

The "double eyelid" surgery is an interesting procedure to me. As the owner of double eyelids, I don't exactly see what all of the fuss is about. Of course, I'm not a Chinese woman and am not held to Chinese standards of beauty, so it's not really fair for me to say it's silly.

Here are a couple before-and-after photos of double eyelids operations:

Photos from

Double eyelids, white skin, bigger breasts, height - all things that most Chinese woman are deficient of naturally - are the things that Chinese women are obsessing over. One could also say Chinese men are preoccupied over these things too, seeing that they ultimately have a lot to do with defining what beauty is.

It's true that during a down economy and a cut-throat job market, good looks will become more and more important. This is unfortunate. Having genetics, rather than achievement, being the determiner of one's job prospects is a pity. Such is life though and I'd be a fool to think that this will go away any time soon.

As I said earlier, I'm a short guy. So I'm, without a doubt, going to have my job prospects be affected by my appearance. Don't expect me to be commissioning a plastic surgeon to break my legs anytime soon though.


iain said...

I remember reading this last year:

Women in Shanghai can earn up to 10% more if they are "beautiful".

And 31% less if they are "ugly".

andy said...

I had no idea I had a double eye lid...

yourfriend said...

Double eyelids, white skin, bigger breasts, height - all things that most Chinese woman are deficient of naturally

In the North, long legs and large breasts are not rare. Nor is white skin. I'd say 40-50% have double eyelids as well. In the South, double eyelids are prevalent. Almost all of them have it.

I have double eyelids, light skin, my nose is not flat and I have a strong bridge.

But I don't have big breasts. ;)

Taylor O said...

Mark, this demands a full scale investigation of all Chinese Hooters franchises for research purposes. I may well have to come back.

Mark said...

Well Taylor, know that if you investigate this, you'll have a forum here at Mark's China Blog where you'll be able to share those results with the world!

Anonymous said...

This is a rather interesting topic. I am born with double eyelids and I'm not white. Some people do this surgery for various reasons, but most people think it's because people want to look more white. It sometimes can be, but sometimes it isn't. But the unique thing about my eyelids are they can have more folds than a double eyelid especially when they're tired. But, then it sort of loosens its fold once I get some sleep. Is there anything like this ever happen to anyone before?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I've read in quite a few places that many Chinese women do not have the eye lid surgery because they want to look more western, but simply because they like how it opens their eyes. I think that much of the plastic surgery in China is done for the same reasons as many other countries, such as America or Australia. They just wish look younger and more attractive.