City considers plastic surgery ban for minors

Updated: 2012-10-24 00:57

By Xu Jingxi and Zheng Xin (China Daily)

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Guangzhou may become the first Chinese city to ban juveniles from receiving nonessential plastic surgery, according to a draft revision of regulations on the protection of minors, released on Sunday.

If approved, the rules will also require doctors to inform under-18s and their legal guardian about the risks involved before they can undergo any cosmetic operation for medical reasons.

City considers plastic surgery ban for minors

A plastic surgeon talks with high school students who are considering plastic surgery at the People’s Liberation Army No 455 Hospital in Shanghai in August. [Photo/China Daily] 

"Cities nationwide have seen younger and younger people undergoing plastic surgery in recent years," said Yang Jianguang, a law professor at Sun Yat-sen University.

"In the pursuit of a fashionable or pretty look, these youngsters may make a ill-thought-out decision to undergo a procedure that could harm their health."

Yang has been leading a panel of experts in drafting the revision since February, and emphasized that it is necessary to regulate the rapidly growing plastic surgery industry through the law.

"It's worrying that some institutions are taking advantage of the trend to offer low-cost yet substandard surgeries to lure juveniles," Yang added.

Zhejiang Mingzhongyi Medical Center in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, launched a promotion targeting college and secondary school students during the summer vacation, offering a 20 percent discount for surgeries such as nose reshaping and double eyelids.

A receptionist told a China Daily reporter posing as a 17-year-old potential customer that the promo will continue on after the summer vacation. She described nose reshaping and double eyelid surgery as "small surgeries with few risks that junior middle school students can undergo".

The receptionist told the China Daily reporter she would need to persuade the parents to sign the consent form for the surgery.

"But many parents brought their children to us for surgery over the summer vacation. Don't worry," the receptionist said.

The center is administrated by the No 3 Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang Chinese Medical University.

Bu Ren, a facial reconstruction specialist at Plastic Surgery Hospital under the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, warned that surgery on juveniles can have unknown effects because the young person has not completed his or her physical growth.

"In addition, due to mental immaturity, juveniles tend to be unrealistic about the surgical effect," she said. "They will be badly hurt if the effect doesn't meet their expectation, or even develop a morbid obsession with plastic surgery in order to bring the desired result."

She welcomed the proposed changes to Guangzhou's regulations but added that she is concerned about the implementation.

"It's difficult for us to confirm a client's age," Bu said. "We do not have the right to ask clients to show their identity cards so we can only judge from appearance.

"Sometimes parents will even help their underage children conceal their true age."

In addition to laws and regulations, the public needs to be educated about the risks of juvenile cosmetology so that they will work with surgeons to ensure the implementation of the regulations, she said.

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