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  • Plastic Surgery Tragedy Triggers Concerns

    Published on November 28, 2010

    In 2005, “Super Girl”, a TV talent show in China, turned college student Li Yuchun into a nationwide celebrity, but few could remember another contestant Wang Bei until recently, when she died during plastic surgery.

    Health authorities confirmed that Wang, 24, died on Nov. 15 due to complications from anesthetic during plastic surgery in Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei Province.

    Postings about Wang’s death drew extensive attention from the public, triggering safety concerns about the rising plastic surgery business.

    “The investigation results should be made public without delay,” says the Ministry of Health on Saturday, calling on local health authorities to step up supervision over the medical cosmetology industry.

    “She’s so pretty, why bother having surgery?” asked a netizen named “short life” at the website http://ent.qq.com.

    Most netizens expressed their sympathies online, but questioned her decision in the first place.

    Wang’s mother, who also had cosmetic surgery in Wuhan’s Zhong’ao Cosmetic Hospital, is still recovering there.

    The demand for plastic surgery is surging in China, as many young people believe cosmetic surgery will earn them a better position in pursuing a job or a romantic relationship.

    In an extreme case, a 30-year-old woman had received over 30 plastic surgery treatments in the past ten years, according to a doctor in a plastic surgery hospital in Wuhan, who refused reveal his name.

    “Beauty gives me confidence,” said 27-year-old Tang Yun, who underwent an operation to shave her jawbones a year ago in east China’s Jiangsu Province. “If makeup helps girls be pretty, why not try plastic surgery?”

    Ms. Shen, who has undergone more than six cosmetic operations over the past five years, including eyelid tucks, liposuction and a nose job, said it was a kind of addiction. “I was stimulated by a great feeling the first time, I’ve never been more confident,” said Shen.

    Although her friends thought her pretty enough, she still could not help going for more treatments until doctors declined to treat her. “They told me to turn to psychologists instead of surgery doctors,” she said. “I think they were right.”

    BOOMING PLASTIC SURGERY BUSINESS

    A face with eyelid tucks, a Roman nose and a pointed jaw, is usually considered beautiful by young Chinese, and some of those who are not born with these features will turn to plastic surgeries.

    “We have, on average, 30 to 50 patients undergoing plastic surgery every day, and most of them for eyelid and nose jobs,” said Li Binbin, a doctor at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences Plastic Surgery Hospital in Beijing’s Shijingshan District.

    “Compared with other hospitals and beauty salons, the figure is not very high, because our hospital is far from downtown and does little advertising,” Li said.

    “Some do it for match making, some for career success and some simply to have a nose similar to their idols,” he said.

    According to Li, an eyelid and nose job costs 2,000 yuan (300 U.S. dollars) to 3,000 yuan per operation while jawbone-grinding surgery, which is much more complicated and comes with greater risks, could cost up to 50,000 yuan.

    The huge profit has prompted a number of hospitals and beauty salons to provide plastic surgery services, although some are not qualified. “At least 2,000 hospitals and beauty salons offer cosmetic surgery, and even a hair salon can do eyelid tucks for 300 yuan,” said Li.

    PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS

    Rumors said Wang Bei received six plastic surgery operations altogether, which psychologists believed to be the result of a “serious mental disturbance”.

    “Being anxious, people nowadays are trying to seek a quicker way to succeed, and they believe plastic surgery is one of the most convenient ways” said Dr. Xu Kaiwen with the psychological counseling center at Peking University.

    “It’s actually self-denial. Most of them do not recognize themselves and need psychological help,” Xu said.

    He said people should be evaluated by psychologists before opting for plastic surgery, but the procedure was ignored in favor of commercial motivation.

    Fei Junfeng, a professor with the psychological health education and research center at Nanjing University, said although some surgeons did persuade some patients to cancel operations, there was still no counseling system before surgery.

    “Those who are addicted to plastic surgeries usually are skeptical, over-sensational, and picky to themselves. They are extremely concerned about their image in the eyes of others, and always worry about the surroundings,” said Fei.

    “They chose to have surgery, hoping to ease their anxiety. But what a surgery could change is just the appearance, rather than the attitude towards life, work and friends.”

    “They need more psychological therapy than plastic surgery,” he said.