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Don't seek beauty at the cost of life

By Zhang Xi | | Updated: 2021-07-16 08:19
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China's plastic surgery industry is booming, thanks to women's shifting attitudes toward cosmetic procedures and a growing desire to maintain their looks. [Lu Ping / China Daily]

Summer is the time when some realize that the body that was hiding under bulky winter clothing is not as ready to come out as they would like. This may inspire them to consider body contouring treatments to remove those isolated areas of fat and create a smoother body profile. Liposuction may become an option for them to look thinner without doing exercise.

Unfortunately, some people may lose lives after undergoing such surgery in unqualified beauty treatment clinics. A topic about an internet celebrity who died two months after getting liposuction has been viewed more than 300 million times on Sina Weibo until Thursday afternoon.

The woman surnamed Dai had the surgery in a clinic in Hangzhou in May, and was transferred to public hospitals because of organ failure two days later. Unfortunately, she died in the ICU on July 13, according to Hangzhou Municipal Health Commission.

The commission issued a statement on July 15 saying medical negligence led to the septic shock and the clinic should take full responsibility of her death. The clinic has been fined and suspended from practicing.

Another example attracting much attention this year came from actress Gao Liu, who posted photos on her Sina Weibo account in February, exposing her failed plastic surgery that gave her a necrotic nose. She wrote that after the accident, she found the hospital in South China's Guangdong province was not qualified to carry out the nose surgery. Local authorities later published a statement, saying the doctor who performed the surgery did not obtain the correct qualification for independently carrying out cosmetic surgery, and will be suspended from practicing for six months. The hospital was fined for allowing the unqualified doctor to perform the surgery.

Yet these penalties cannot undo the losses of those who suffered or even died from failed surgeries.

Two month ago, the term "calf neurectomy" became a hot topic online, with some customers and aesthetic medicine institutes promoting the surgery by showing photos of those "thinner" legs.

The surgery was soon criticized by doctors, who claimed that selective nerve blocking can cause exhaustion while walking and prevent people from doing strenuous exercises such as jumping and running.

Yet becoming beautiful by undergoing plastic surgeries remains one of the most popular trends all around the world. Various aesthetic messages on social media platforms are affecting the new generation of young people in the information era. In China, new words such as A4 waist (a waist width narrower than the long side of an A4 sheet of paper — less than 21 centimeters), cold white skin and chopstick legs are constantly being created to tell people what beauty is. These simple and singular aesthetic standards have promoted the term "appearance anxiety" to become a hot topic.

Appearance anxiety means that many people are not confident enough about their appearance in a social environment that magnifies their looks.

Therefore, many people turn to plastic surgery, wishing to become more beautiful, although the definition of beauty is evaluated by others, not by oneself. Yet they may not fully consider the risks they could face during surgery. China has seen quite a few failed or even fatal cases over the years.

According to media reports, China in 2020 witnessed the establishment of 5,150 new cosmetic surgery institutions, and the cosmetic surgery market reached 197.50 billion yuan ($30.50 billion), accounting for 17 percent of the world's total. China is expected to become the world's largest cosmetic surgery market as its scale will exceed 400 billion yuan in the next five years.

The market consultancy iResearch said there were 13,000 legal cosmetic surgery institutions in China in 2019, but 15 percent of these provided services beyond their certificates. It is estimated that more than 80,000 beauty salons and lifestyle businesses provided aesthetic medical services illegally.

China's National Health Commission and seven other ministries and administrations issued a document in 2020, aimed at stricter regulation of the country's cosmetic surgery industry.

Last but not least, although it is a personal decision to go under the knife to look more beautiful, people should do not ignore the dangers. After all, true human beauty cannot be sculpted like a piece of stone.

The author is a writer with China Daily

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