Cosmetic surgery apps are one of the hottest trends in China

Want to get a nose job? There’s an app for that.

Plastic surgery is so popular in China that apps supporting the industry are taking off. From your phone, the apps will scan your face, tell you what work you need to have done in order to improve your visage, suggest doctors and even book and pay for appointments and surgeries.

More than 7 million Chinese people had plastic surgery in 2014, according to the China Association of Plastics and Aesthetics. By 2017, that number leaped to more than 16 million people going under the knife, according to data from Frost & Sullivan, according to CNN.

This has led to the rising popularity of apps like So-Young and GengMei, where users can see before-and-after photos, set up appointments and pay for the surgeries.

“In China, it is very difficult to find reliable information on clinics, especially in smaller cities,” Tony DeGennaro, co-founder of Dragon Social, a Chinese market intelligence agency, told CNN. “People no longer trust the search results returned by (search engine) Baidu, following several medical scandals involving the platform, so these new apps have taken over as unofficial directories of surgeons.”

The majority of the patients are women under 26 according to a white paper published in 2019 by So-Young and many feel it helps them get jobs and husbands.

The Chonese cosmetic surgery app GengMei of Wanmei Creative Technology, based in Huaibei city, in east China's Anhui province.
The Chonese cosmetic surgery app GengMei of Wanmei Creative Technology, based in Huaibei city, in east China’s Anhui province.Alamy Stock Photo

“China remains a very patriarchal society,” Brenda Alegre, a gender studies lecturer at Hong Kong University who has researched the cosmetic surgery trend, told CNN. “Being pretty is a way to ensure you will be successful at work and you will find a husband.”

The website notes that “GengMei (which has an augmented reality feature that can analyze a face and give it a grade out of 100 based on criteria like its liveliness, attractiveness and symmetry) has 36 million users and lists almost 20,000 surgeons on its platform, a company spokeswoman confirmed. Tencent backed So-Young has 2.47 million monthly active users and nearly 6,000 surgeons listed, according to a So-Young spokesperson. These apps provide testimonies of cosmetic surgery patients, with before-and-after pictures, as well as reviews of surgeons.”

Gengmai also offers microloans to pay for the procedures.

Popular looks include “baby face,” which calls for “a full, round face with a smooth contour, a short chin, a prominent forehead, big eyes and a small button nose,” according to descriptions posted on the app, CNN reported.  Facial fillers and nose and surgeries help to achieve the look.


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