Laser surgery, liposuction and injections of Clostridium botulinum and hyaluronan are ranked among the most popular cosmetic surgeries in the nation, doctors say.
Among students, rhinoplasty came second-highest, with top spot claimed by requests for blepharoplasty, or the surgical modification of eyelids, they say.
The Department of Health on Thursday last week said it plans to set a minimum age for medical cosmetology services in an effort to ban invasive cosmetic procedures for underage people. Department of Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) added that the agency would establish a committee comprised of experts and doctors with a variety specialties, which would set a minimum age for different cosmetic procedures.
Taipei Medical University associate professor Tsai Ren-yeu (蔡仁雨) said demand for cosmetic surgery has been boosted by South Korean TV dramas.
The increase in doctors and the large number of advertisements placed by pharmaceutical firms have only increased the hype, Tsai said.
Tseng Fan-ying (曾繁穎), a doctor specializing in plastic surgery, said patients wanting surgery have become younger in recent years, but added that doctors take into consideration whether the surgery is necessary.
For invasive surgical procedures on minors, such as rhinoplasty, breast implants and liposuction, doctors need to consider whether patients are sufficiently able to care for themselves after the surgery, Tseng said.
Between post-surgery and recovery, patients can sometimes feel pain so severe that not even adults may be able to withstand it, much less children, Tseng said.
Tseng said that surgery should only be performed if a patient really needs it, citing one of his own experiences as an example.
Two junior-high school students had made an appointment to see Tseng to ask for plastic surgery, one a boy who had been referred by a psychiatrist due to bouts of low self-esteem because he believed his eyes were too small, while the other student, a girl, had been laughed at and teased at school for having saggy eyelids.
Another doctor, Yen Chiung-kao (嚴炯誥), said that practitioners in his field should be able to judge which cases to accept.
Doctors should set an age limit for themselves, Yen said, adding that this was because the face and body do not significantly change after puberty and are more suited to plastic or cosmetic surgery.
The department should consider disseminating information on cosmetic surgery instead of making fixed rules, Yen said, adding that that would allow doctors to ensure no one with a special need is denied surgery.