The past decade has shown a growing number of women in China making the decision to undergo cosmetic surgery. Some of the most desired results include cheekbones that are higher in appearance, bigger eyes and a narrow nose. Some of the influences on the growth in cosmetic surgery procedures include Western culture and K-Pop from South Korea. Let’s take a look at the increasing popularity of cosmetic surgery apps in China as well as some of the most well-known apps used by the population.
According to the China Association of Plastics and Aesthetics, more than 7-million people in China had some form of plastic surgery back in 2014. That number was suggested to have grown to 16.3-million in 2017 (as shown in data provided by the Shanghai branch of Ford & Sullivan consultants).
The growth is plastic surgery in China is often credited to popular apps such as GengMei and So-Young. These apps let patients book surgical procedures, look at “before and after” photos and apply for credit in order to pay for their procedure of choice.
In addition, these apps are viewed as being more trustworthy and reliable than Baidu (a popular search engine). In an interview with CNN, Tony DeGennaro, the co-founder of Dragon Social, a Chinese market intelligence agency, said it is hard for potential patients to gather reliable information on clinics. He told the network, “People no longer trust the search results returned by Baidu, following several medical scandals involving the platform, so these new apps have taken over as unofficial directories of surgeons.”
In 2019, So-Young published a white paper that showed that many of the Chinese women undergoing cosmetic surgery procedures are young and also live in the second and third tier cities of the country. The app obtained this information through visits to clinics along with an analysis of its own data.
According to the white paper, more than half of the Chinese women having cosmetic surgery are under the age of 26. Many members of Generation Z in China see cosmetic surgery as a way to stand out from the crowd in a continually crowded job market and dating arena. Since China is still considered to be a very patriarchal society, being viewed as “pretty” is often seen as a way to be successful at work and to help a female land a husband.
In addition, patients in China are looking to gain results in real life that match the changes they can make to their appearance on photo apps.
The most popular plastic surgery app in China is GengMei which has 36-million users as well as almost 20,000 surgeons on its platform. So-Young has about 2.47-million active users on a monthly basis along with almost 6000 surgeons on the platform.
One of the reasons that GengMei is so popular is that it includes an augmented reality feature that can analyze the face of a person. Once it is analyzed, the face is given a grade (on a scale that goes to 100) that is based on such criteria as its attractiveness, liveliness and symmetry. The app can also make suggestions for ways to improve the appearance of the face through specific cosmetic surgery recommendations.
The summer holiday is when many young women decide to have plastic surgery in order to get the look they desire before the start of the school year. To take advantage of the larger patient demand, many clinics offer special packages or discounts to entice patients to use their services. While the clinics in China see a good amount of business during this time, some wealthier patients travel to clinics that are located in Hong Kong, South Korea and Thailand. They travel to these areas because the doctors are viewed as being more trustworthy.
There is a rule that is known as the “three courts and five eyes” rule which means that a perfectly proportioned face is viewed as having a width of five eyes along with a length of three equal “courts”. The three equal “courts” run from the forehead to the brow, from the brow to the nose tip and then from the tip of the nose to the chin.
Some female patients turn to plastic surgery like rhinoplasty or a facelift to get the results they desire while others have dermal fillers to get temporary results such as plumper cheekbones or a chin that has a better definition to it.
In the past, many patients used celebrities as their inspiration but there is now a trend that shows people wanting to gain a more individual look instead of copying a celebrity. Some examples include having a face that looks “world-weary” or a face that has features that look like an elf.
A look that has gained in popularity in recent years in an M-shaped lip, which is a lower lip that has a dimple in the middle of it, which can be gained through the use of hyaluronic acid fillers.
A “baby face” is the desire to have a face that is full and round along with a smooth contour. Patients want a shorter chin, bigger eyes, a forehead that is prominent in appearance and a nose that is smaller and “button-like” in appearance. Doctors normally use facial fillers and surgical procedures to achieve this look.
Patients are turning away from double eyelid surgery and are trying to make a single eyelid more attractive in appearance. This look is achieved by the elongating the upper eyelid and removing any excess skin from the outer and inner part of the eyelid by performing canthoplasty.