Thu, Aug 06, 2009 - Page 4 News List

FEATURE: More youth undergoing cosmetic surgery over summer

GOODBYE ‘FLAWS’ Beauty clinics say more kids want procedures, but the Teacher Chang Foundation says youth shouldn’t be encouraged to have plastic surgery

By Rachel Chan  /  CNA

A young woman receives cosmetic surgery in Taipei yesterday. More students have been using summer vacation to go under the knife in pursuit of beauty, clinics say.

PHOTO: CNA

Instead of spending money on buxibans or traveling, many students are using the summer break to get beauty treatments and plastic surgery.

Cosmetology and plastic surgery clinics are reporting an increase in the number of student clients since the summer break began.

The Plastic Surgical Association of the Republic of China and the Taiwan Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, two professional associations that represent certified aesthetic doctors and plastic surgeons respectively, said it was impossible to get an accurate estimate of how big the market is and how much it grows each year, mainly because such treatments are not covered by the National Health Insurance.

Individual beauty clinics, however, are reporting year-on-year increases in the number of youths undergoing cosmetic procedures, with the figure doubling last month over previous months.

“Business in cosmetic procedures has surged in July and August because of the increasing number of student customers — whether they are from Taiwan or abroad,” said Tseng Chung-ren (曾忠仁), a dermatologist who owns a medical cosmetic center and clinic in Taipei.

Tseng said students normally constituted 20 percent of his clientele, but that the figure had jumped to 40 percent over the summer, while another 20 percent to 30 percent are students from abroad and the remaining customers are mostly Taiwanese women aged 25 to 45.

Chao Tzi-kang (趙子康), the director of a beauty clinic in Taipei’s Ximending district (西門町), a shopping district popular with students, also reported the trend.

Chao said student customers generally increase every summer during the break, as it provides enough time for students or new graduates to recover from the procedures before entering a new school or starting a job.

Tseng and Chao claimed people were increasingly concerned with their physical appearance because of the increasingly competitive job market.

The economic downturn is prompting people to acquire what they consider more advantageous features and get rid of what they may feel are blemishes or imperfections, to improve their chances of getting hired.

“Patients come to have cosmetic treatment for a better look and to boost their confidence. The patients are getting younger and younger,” Tseng said.

Even the number of elementary school students being brought by their parents for simple treatments such as mole removal has increased, he said.

Young patients go for different treatments depending on their age. Mole and birthmark removals are common for elementary school students. Acne treatments and scar and tattoo removals are popular with high school students.

Among university students, hair removal, blepharoplasty (double eyelid surgery) and micro-plastic surgery, including botox and rhinoplasty using hyaluronic acid, are in demand, Tseng said.

Hair removal procedures, especially the removal of leg hair for women, and armpit odor treatments, are particularly popular among the university crowd, Tseng said.

Students studying abroad opt for cosmetic treatments when they come home for the summer because of lower costs, Tseng said, adding that procedures could cost ten times as much in Western countries.

An increasing number of young men are also having cosmetic procedures, Chao said, adding that 40 percent of his patients under the age of 20 are male and most come for skin treatments.

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