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Face-lift for Plastic Surgery Industry

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The Ministry of Health (MOH) has launched a nationwide overhaul of the plastic surgery industry, as the number of lawsuits over the increasingly popular medical procedure total 20,000 each year.

The campaign, which will continue until late April, is designed to weed out unregistered and incompetent practitioners from the industry to ensure clients receive quality services, according to a notification issued by the ministry on Tuesday.

It is also intended to bring authorities up to date on the procedures involved and the size of the industry, including the number of its practitioners and their credentials. 

"Through these efforts, the ministry will further strengthen its regulation and supervision of the industry to better safeguard consumer rights," said Vice Health Minister Ma Xiaowei.

About 3 million people had plastic surgery on the mainland in 2010 in an industry worth an annual 15 billion yuan (US$2.27 billion), statistics from the MOH showed.

The number of procedures carried out on the mainland has increased at an annual rate of 100 percent, as the newly rich Chinese tend to their appearance and want to look good.

But experts said the loose regulation of the industry has led to a surging number of botched operations and legal disputes.

Wang Bei, a 24-year-old former talent show contestant, died in the operating room in November during a routine plastic surgery procedure in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province.

Investigations showed that her surgeon, Wang Liangming, never fully qualified as a practitioner.

Despite the existence of rules and regulations, the industry has become so lucrative that some beauty salons perform cosmetic procedures without the proper certification, Ma said.

A recent raid by health authorities on 11 cosmetic surgery clinics across China found that less than half met the national standards, he noted.

Moreover, those standards were set in 2002 and need to be updated, said Sun Jiaming, a Wuhan-based veteran cosmetic surgeon.

He recommended that those considering going under the knife check out their cosmetic surgeon's formal qualifications before they agree to go ahead with any procedures.

"Customers should take a rational approach to cosmetic surgery and be aware of the risks posed by going under the knife," he said.

Decades ago, according to Sun, nearly all of his patients had plastic surgery because they had been involved in accidents. "But now many of them come just to have a more beautiful face."

According to an online survey conducted by China Youth Daily in December, 71.5 percent of the poll's 2,600 respondents said today's social aesthetic values have led to a craze for plastic surgery.

To judge people by their appearance has now become a common practice in China and a pretty face can help give you a competitive edge, respondents said.

(China Daily January 20, 2011)


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