Teenagers in China are asking for “selfie-grade” plastic surgery, with the west not far behind

The average age of plastic surgeries is dropping in mainland China, as the majority of those undertaking the procedures are under 30. Experts believe a concept called “Snapchat dysmorphia” is to blame.



As The South China Morning Post has noted, the average age of the average Chinese undertaking elective plastic surgery has drastically dropped. Of the 22 million who underwent these elective procedures in 2018, those under the age of 28 accounted for 54%, with teenagers accounting for 8% of total procedures. If we compare these figures to western nations, the average age dropped from 42 to 37 in 2018; and in America, while over 200,000 teens had aesthetic plastic surgery, this figure only made up 1% of total procedures.

Julian De Silva, a plastic surgeon based in London’s Harley Street, believes that social media “is heavily influencing plastic surgery trends and cosmetic treatments.” In the last five years, he’s noticed that “patients are taking more photos of themselves than ever, and as a result, they are far more self-conscious about their appearance. Flaws they would previously have ignored have, since the advent of social media, plagued them.”

The term “Snapchat dysmorphia,” was coined in 2018, one that refers to the concept of individuals trundling into the offices of plastic surgeons images of their own heavily filtered (and doctored) selfies, asking if the doctor could make them look like these, please.

Clearly, the source of the manicured bump is social media, the impact of which on our wellbeing has been severely noted. In 2017, Britain’s Royal Society for Public Health ranked Instagram as the worst social media network for enabling anxiety and depression, beating Snapchat in a photo finish. Carmen Papaluca of Notre Dame reported that women in their late teens and early twenties believed the app negatively impacted their body image.

However, we shan’t exclusively blame the selfish, as cosmetic surgery is far more available than it used to be. Botox and dermal filler Juvéderm have now chosen to move on from its core clientele of women over forty, now choosing to target 20-somethings.

But back to China. According to the plastic surgery centric online magazine Sixth Tone, Chinese clients are influenced by the aesthetics of South Korea, who entertain unrealistic European and K-pop beauty standards, and about one-third of women under thirty have had plastic surgery.



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