Unregulated cosmetic surgery yields nightmares in China
April 26, 1997
Web posted at: 5:03 p.m. EDT (2103 GMT)
BEIJING (CNN) -- Ma Xiaoqing, a 64-year-old Chinese woman,
decided to have cosmetic surgery to make her eyes look more
beautiful. Her first operation in 1993 left her with one
Three operations quickly followed, and Ma was left with
severely scarred eyelids. The first four operations were
carried out by a doctor at a military hospital, which first
tried to fix the problem but later refused to provide further
treatment or give any compensation.
Ma, like thousands of others in China, experienced the
horrors first hand of an unregulated industry in which people
are at the mercy of untrained surgeons. Currently there are
more than 700,000 beauty parlors across China. And, according
to one Chinese newspaper, tens of thousands have had their
faces destroyed by unqualified plastic surgeons in the last
One of the most popular operations in China is known as the
double eyelid, a procedure that ideally makes eyes look
larger, rounder and more beautiful -- the same surgery Ma had
hoped would improve her looks.
During the operation, a small incision allows the surgeon to
remove excess skin from the upper eyelid and stitch the lid
in a way that creates a wrinkle in the skin -- the double
eyelid. The operation usually takes about 40 minutes and costs
about 400 to 800 renminbi ($50 to $100).
In Ma's case, the normally straightforward procedure went
seriously awry. It took eight surgeries, a
private practice surgeon and nearly four years before her
eyelids were fixed.
But despite the nightmarish consequences of some cosmetic
operations, thousands are willing to put beauty before
Zhang Xin, 27, said she is pleased with her double eyelid
surgery. She had worked in a beauty salon that performs
cosmetic surgery for two years before going through with the
Plastic surgery became widespread in China in the late 1950s
and 1960s, and was most often used to help victims of China's
involvement in the 1950-55 Korean War. Cosmetic surgery has
boomed since 1979 following China's reform policies that
opened China to the West.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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