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Young try to get leg up with plastic surgery

2014-07-28 14:02 Shanghai Daily Web Editor: Si Huan
A model promotes for an South Korean plastic surgery hospital at an international fair for trade in services in Beijing. — Xinhua

A model promotes for an South Korean plastic surgery hospital at an international fair for trade in services in Beijing. — Xinhua

When Jackie Chen, 24, received the offer from a first-tier university in Shanghai six years ago, she turned to her parents to ask for the present she had wanted since she was 10 years old — cosmetic surgery for double eyelid.

"I am so glad that I did the eye job. It changes me into a self-confident girl," she tells Shanghai Daily.

Chen, a clerk at a foreign trading company, is part of a wave of young women and some young men who want to look better and improve their chances in social competition and relationships.

The 2-month summer vacation that started this month is the peak season for students (overwhelmingly women) just finishing high school or just out of college to get plastic surgery.

"They all want the common standards of beauty: big eyes, higher-bridged nose, small face, white and brightening skin," says Dr Xu Jinghong, deputy director of the Plastic Surgery Department at the First Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University.

A Shanghai survey found that about 20 percent of high school graduates and university students plan to have facelifts. Double eyelid and nose reshaping are the most popular procedures, especially for students, as they are considered to have the biggest impact on appearance.

There are two main methods of double eyelid procedure: full incision and buried sutures. Chen did both. The first time, she chose so-called "buried sutures." It is a non-incision, non-invasive procedure in which small sutures are knotted above the eyes to create the fold.

"I recovered from the swollen eyes about 10 days after the procedure," says Chen. Her parents paid 12,000 yuan (US$1,950) for it in a private hospital.

Unfortunately, as her eyelid is too thick, her double eyelid went back to its original shape in less than a year, a common issue of buried sutures.

So during the following summer vacation, she underwent the full incision to remove the excessive fat, muscle and skin. The looser the skin is, the deeper the cut.

She also went for a lateral canthus (eyelids on the outside corner) reconstruction so the eyes can appear bigger. The surgery took nearly two hours. After one year of recovery, she finally has what she longed for — "big and shinier" eyes.

"It is a quite painful process, but all worth it," Chen says, recalling the post-surgery bleary red eyes and severe bruises around the eyelids.

"Once when I was taking the bus, I overheard two people talking about whether I had just suffered domestic violence. After that, I wore my sunglasses pretty much everywhere I went," Chen recalls.

No matter how tougwh the plastic surgery was, Chen says it got rid of her low self-esteem and she now attributes almost every good thing to her new look — more male friends, success on a job interview at a foreign trade company and even better style taste.

"I loathe the old me who always wore sportswear, no makeup and never tried to eat less and keep fit," she says, sitting in a trendy restaurant in Shanghai. She wears a yellow printed minidress and light makeup, with shimmering shade on her eye area. Even her nails are polished with tiny crystal ornaments.

Nonetheless, Chen thinks she is not "pretty enough."

"My face is too big so I am thinking of getting an injection to make it smaller," she says.

"I can't say plastic surgery is something people will be addicted to, but some people will grown very fond of it," Dr Xu says. "When you see how it changes you, the pleasure is too huge to outdistance the fear. And the ability to bear pain and risk will become stronger."

Cosmetic surgery first appeared in China in the 1920s, but only in Shanghai. Back then there was only simple surgery, like double eyelid and nose straightening.

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