Cosmetic Surgery Culture

ChinesePod co-worker Jenny had occasion to visit the plastic surgeon’s office recently, and she took away some interesting (although not terribly surprising) insights:

> 1. Most popular form of plastic surgery in China: an even divide between all-time favorite double eyelid operation (双眼皮/shuang1yan3pi2) and new comer face-slimming injection (瘦脸针/shou4lian3zhen1).(Note, many Asians are born with single eye lid, but double eye lids are considered beautiful. We are also obsessed with a small face. My take is that Asian faces tend to be flatter (hence bigger). I don’t know what’s ugly about that, but there is an industry dedicated to making one’s face smaller, everything from lotion to plastic surgery).

> 2. The consumers: girls in their 20’s top the list. The aforementioned operations were monopolized by these girls. There were literally 5 girls coming in for one of those treatment every hour.

See her blog post for the rest.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. A few years ago (actually probably like 9 years ago), MTV had a VJ named Suchin Pak and they did a show on what life is like for Asian Americans. At one point Suchin went to her home and talked about the 双眼皮 surgery. I remember her speaking to an predominately white American audience at the time, and how bizarre this desire was, and how bizarre that anyone even cared. And I remember thinking at the time how commonly known this is in an (east) Asian culture and how far this stems back in history (my grandpa preformed this surgery in the 60s).

  2. I’d be curious how far up the good ol’ 丰胸 is on the list. A lot of Chinese women have major complexes about the size of their breasts. If you don’t know what I mean, just have your Chinese girlfriend/wife/friend take you bra shopping. You’d be hard pressed to find a single one without an inch of padding.

  3. A few years ago a Chinese graduate student in my office commented on how lucky I was to have double eyelids. At the time, I thought it was the oddest “complement” I’d ever had. I now understand that it’s very much akin to being praised for not having cankles.

    I guess every culture has their hang ups.

  4. I’d be interested to know the prices of the major surgeries.

    I could probably track it down online, but even then I’d have nothing to compare to.

    I’m not considering surgery, just intrigued by the prices. My friend got the double-eye lid in Xi’an for a few hundred kuai (if I remember right).

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