Vanity surgery for under-18s banned by health ministry

Staff Writer, with CNA

Sat, Mar 01, 2014 - Page 3

Taiwanese looking to get more hair, a new nose or bigger breasts will have to wait until they are officially adults.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare on Thursday banned plastic surgery for patients under 18, meaning minors will no longer be able to undergo popular procedures such as breast implants and cosmetic blepharoplasty — the reshaping of the eyelids to create creases, colloquially called “double eyelid surgery.”

“Vanity” surgery has proven popular among Taiwan’s youth, according to health ministry data.

A survey released last year showed about 800 instances of young people under 20 going under the knife to improve their appearance. About 5 percent of those cases involved invasive surgery.

The ministry’s director of medical affairs Lee Wui-chiang (李偉強) said the government was blocking “type-three” cosmetic surgery on patients who are still growing and developing. This category includes nose jobs, breast implants and reductions, hair implants, liposuction, face lifts, eyelid reshaping and orthoganthic (corrective jaw) surgery.

However, the ban does not cover treatment for excessive body odor or scar removal and exceptions are possible where there is a medical necessity, Lee said.

Lee warned of heavy penalties for breaking the rules under the Physicians Act (醫師法).

As of Thursday, any doctor found providing minors with type-three cosmetic surgery could risk losing their business license or be suspended from operations for up to one year, along with a fine of between NT$100,000 and NT$500,000 (US$3,300 and US$16,500).

In extreme cases, violators could have their medical licenses revoked.

However, minors will still be able to get phototherapy from lasers and intense pulsed light, as well as injections such as botox and collagen.

These are labeled by the ministry as cosmetic surgery types one and two respectively.