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Chinese government tries to crack down on growing plastic surgery industry

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 6th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Double eyelid surgery, liposuction, nose jobs and breast enhancement is taking mainland China by storm. Many groups within the massive population of China are seeking to enhance their beauty in order to better their career prospects and attract wealthy suitors. As such, the Chinese government is seeking to curtail the growth of this spurious industry, which is often plied by unethical and untrained hands.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Thousands of illegal "surgeons" are tucking in tummies, widening eyes and enlarging the breasts of women in their ill-advised quest for self improvement.

Many plastic surgery clinics have popped up on street corners in dozens of Chinese cities. Conventional beauticians sometimes offer this service illegally to clients who can't afford more expensive institutes. Given the dictates of traditional Chinese mores, many women wish to keep their decision to go under the knife a secret from family and friends.

Studies say that more than half of those seeking plastic surgeries are young people making themselves presentable to meet the demands of sales jobs and the hospitality industries, in addition to attracting wealthy men. Even Middle aged and older people are seeking cosmetic help to look younger.

As such, the demand for procedures far outpaces the supply of doctors and licensed personnel, which result in a vast industry of unlicensed surgeries. The number of unsuccessful surgeries are believed to be higher than 20,000 a year. This estimate reflects the fact that there are no records covering the huge numbers of illegal clinics operating around China.

The Chinese Ministry of Health has issued new rules and ordered government agencies in provinces and cities to investigate the role of beauticians and unauthorized "medical institutes" in providing plastic surgery.

"Local health administrations at all levels should approve and inspect medical cosmetic institutes strictly in accordance with laws and regulations... With similar qualifications, public-funded ones should be licensed first," the ministry said in a circular last week.

The Chinese government is under increasing pressure as there have been several cases of serious damages caused to people opting for plastic surgery.

The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery has ranked China third after the United States and Brazil in terms of licensed procedures carried out. There were 1.3 million licensed procedures carried out in 2010. The market for licensed surgeries which hardly existed a decade ago is now worth $2.4 billion due to the sudden expansion of the middle class and disposable income in China.

Even government and military run hospitals have jumped on to the plastic surgery bandwagon. They have been drawn partly by the new source for generating revenue and reduce their dependence on official budgets as the health ministry is pushing hospitals to become as self-sufficient as possible.

But there is an important, largely secret reason why hospitals run by the tightly controlled People's Liberation Army have set up plastic surgery units that cater to the beauty business outside the usual medical role of helping people who have suffered road and burns accidents. Some believe the PLA's entry into the business is linked with the need for political leaders and senior officials to look young and natural, beyond the standard darkened hair or wigs.

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