China's cosmetic surgery boom targeted as state media call for regulation

Chinese state media on Tuesday (Sept 14)  said it was “imperative and urgent” to regulate advertisements for cosmetic surgery, procedures and treatments, saying that some made excessive or false claims.

“From posters at bus stops and in subways, to introductions on social websites and content platforms, from advertisements planted in films and television variety shows to promotions by live-streamers, medical beauty advertisements are overwhelmingly pervasive,” People’s Daily said in a commentary article published on its website.

The newspaper said some ads associate good looks with “high quality”, “diligence” and “success”, fabricating stories about “plastic surgery changing one’s destiny” and distorting aesthetic perceptions.

The criticism of the sector comes as Chinese regulators have wielded a wide-ranging crackdown on industries from technology to education to property to strengthen their control over the economy and society after years of runaway growth.

The spate of regulatory activity has raised investors’ concerns over which sectors might come under scrutiny next.

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In August, China’s market regulator drafted guidelines to regulate the medical aesthetics sector’s advertising practices, saying that they were prompting societal anxiety over people’s looks.

Demand for plastic surgery or medical aesthetic treatment has boomed in China in recent years, with procedures to make one’s eyes wider or nose higher among the most popular. However, the sector has been criticised for failing to caution people about risks.

In July, a 33-year-old online influencer died from complications after a botched liposuction procedure in a case that was widely reported by media in China.

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The market for plastic surgery in China is expected to grow to 300 billion yuan (S$63 billion) by 2022, state news agency Xinhua reported last month, citing a report by the Chinese Association of Plastics and Aesthetics.


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