Since Zhao Hongshan’s first procedure – a dermal filler injection to soften wrinkles four years ago – he has spent around 80,000 yuan on his face, including eyelid surgery.
“Getting cosmetic procedures is just as normal as body building. Both make men more handsome and confident,” says the 33-year-old, who owns a gym in Beijing.
Zhao is among a growing number of Chinese men using surgical and non-surgical procedures to change their physical appearance to boost their self-confidence or give them an edge.
In 2018, the market for aesthetic medicine in China was worth more than 495 billion yuan, with males accounting for around 15 percent of customers, according to a report by cosmetic surgery social networking app Gengmei, whose name means “more beautiful” in Chinese.
“Around 20 percent of my patients are men. Some want to remove acne and look better in wedding pictures, while others troubled by baldness hope to look younger through hair transplants,” says Zhang Hui, a dermatologist with a Beijing-based private cosmetic hospital.
Doctors say hair transplants, eye bag removal, acne treatment and dental orthodontics are the procedures most commonly requested by men.
Wang Jun, vice-president of marketing for Gengmei, says there is a rising trend of young men resorting to cosmetic surgery; most male customers are in their teens or 20s.
Societal pressure and the misconception that being beautiful is a short cut to success are often cited by patients as the reasons they chose cosmetic surgery.
“Some people just want to please themselves, while others hope to improve their odds in job hunting or dating,” Wang says.
Chang Li, a 39-year-old orthopaedic surgeon in Beijing, receives three intradermal injections to improve his facial skin each year. To his satisfaction, he looks much younger than others his age.
Chang says that men are under the same social pressures as women and their confidence and competitiveness would be somewhat weakened by facial and body defects.
“Why not reduce the signs of ageing if you can?” he asks.
Make-up and plastic surgery are no longer just the realm of women, with society’s growing tolerance of beauty seeking men.
Chinese news agency Xinhua interviewed 86 people randomly chosen online. Around 77 percent said it was a personal choice for men to undergo cosmetic procedures and their choice should be respected.
However, experts point out the risks of cosmetic surgery.
Fan Jufeng, director of the Plastic Surgery Department at Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, does not encourage people, no matter men or women, to “blindly” go under the knife.
According to the National Health Commission, a total of 2,772 cases related to illegal plastic surgery were handled by China's health departments during a year long crackdown that started in May 2017.
Fan also warned the public of the negative impact of live streaming celebrities who promote the misconception that being pretty trumps all else.
“Whether to have cosmetic procedures is a personal choice, but people should not develop an addiction to it,” Fan says。 “After all, a rich and beautiful inner world is far more important than a pretty face。”
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