As China has become more capitalist and prosperous, there is now a second generation of wealthy families whose young members are going for cosmetic surgery. In a recent interview, a Chinese cosmetic surgeon answers some interesting questions. He is Ding Xiaobang, Director of the outpatient department of a plastic surgery hospital.

Do You See Any New Trends Emerging?

Yes, he said. Contrary to the myth that cosmetic surgery attracts older women who want to look younger and prettier, about 60 percent of his patients are young. They are good-looking members of the “rich second generation” and would turn heads on any street. But they want to look perfect.

They “use surgery like morning makeup,” he said. “Sometimes they even invite me to cafes or restaurants to discuss their surgery plans. Their makeup artists and private photographers are also there to let me know which part of the face is not yet perfect.”

Do Many of Your Clients Behave Mysteriously or Secretly?

Yes, said Ding. Actors and actresses who do not want to be recognized want to keep a low profile. They come to his clinic at dusk because not many people are around then. One in particular always sent her driver into the clinic to make sure nobody was there before she entered.

But it is not only celebrities who act strangely. He described a patient who arrived with her huofo, her “living Buddha”. She was planning to marry a billionaire in southern China whose family believed that a wife’s facial appearance could affect her husband’s fortune. “Peach blossom cheeks” in a wife were thought to be promising for a husband’s career so she wanted her cheeks improved. Her living Buddha’s job was to make sure no other parts of her face were changed, as that might break some taboos.

Becoming a Plastic Surgeon

Ding does not have the Chinese equivalent of board certification in plastic surgery. He learned on the job from his mentor, Zhang, who was very experienced in all types of surgery. In particular he recalled a nine-year-old girl whose heart was malformed. It was positioned above the ribs, beating just beneath the skin and Zhang positioned it more normally with bone protection. He was 81 at that time. Ding realized how dramatically plastic surgery could change a person’s life and decided to make it his career.

His first surgery was eyelid surgery for a young girl who was miserable at school because classmates mocked her. Her eyelid muscles were too weak to fully open her eyes. Ding was so nervous that his hands were trembling, but he successfully took a strip of muscle fiber from her forehead and used it for her upper eyelids. Her happiness after recovery confirmed him in his career choice.

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