Sun, Jan 21, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Politicians plump for botox makeovers

FACE-LIFTS One day they're wrinkled old men, next day they're not. More and more politicians are hoping for a change in fortunes by going under the knife or needle

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Anyone familiar with independent Taipei City Councilor Lin Ruey-tu (林瑞圖) might be surprised to notice that his wrinkles recently disappeared and his skin has become smooth.

The change in appearance took six hours of plastic surgery, which Lin underwent two weeks ago. The surgery included Botox injections and a face lift.

Showing pictures of himself from before and after the surgery, Lin said the procedure was a gift to himself for returning to politics. The 51-year-old former legislator described the pictures as "death versus rebirth."

"I had a serious and fierce face before, but now I look younger and energetic. [Getting the surgery] had less to do with being handsome and more to do with becoming friendlier to my voters," he said on Friday at an event promoting the clinic where he underwent surgery.

Lin is hardly the only person to have turned to plastic surgery to look younger and a growing number of men, including politicians, are undergoing cosmetic treatment.

Although women still account for most cosmetic procedures and plastic surgery, men are making up more of the total, statistics from the Taiwan Plastic Surgery Association showed.

Five years ago, men accounted for only 10 percent of all patients who elected for plastic surgery, but the percentage increased to 30 percent last year, the association said.

Tsao Szu-pin (曹賜斌), a member of the association and a plastic surgeon, said that while women tend to elect for plastic surgery because they believe it will improve their physical appearance, most men who decide to get surgery -- especially male politicians like Lin -- believe it makes them look kinder, friendlier and more energetic.

"These male politicians believe that looking younger, friendlier and healthier will help them to attract more votes or prolong their political career," Tsao said, adding that many politicians like to get plastic surgery before elections.

Several prominent Taiwanese politicians have had elective cosmetic treatment, including former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Chung-mo (林重謨). Lien had Botox injections, while Lin Chung-mo also had hyaluronic acid injections in his forehead in 2003. He later publicly lauded the effect of the procedures.

"Botox makes your face soft and smooth in a short time. It's really amazing," Lin Chung-mo was quoted as saying at the time during a promotional event held by his beauty clinic.

Former Taiwan Stock Exchange Corp chairman Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁) admitted having laser blemish removal in 2002 when asked about his appearance, while DPP Legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮), Wang Sing-nan (王幸男), and former KMT legislator Fung Hu-hsiang (馮滬祥) had eyelid surgery.

DPP Legislator Wang Tuoh (王拓) and former independent legislator Chu Hsing-yu (朱星羽) also had plastic surgery to remove bags under their eyes.

After getting surgery in 2004, Chu said that it was not only meant to change one's looks, but that the removal of droopy eyelids would "bring more luck."

A survey conducted by Shu-Tien Urology Ophthalmology Clinic last year showed that the three most popular cosmetic treatments or types of plastic surgery were botox wrinkle treatment, plastic surgery on the eyes and Thermacool facelifts.

Tsao said men chose plastic surgery because they believed it would increase their competitiveness in the workplace. Men also preferred "easier" treatments that would not affect their work.

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