Plastic surgeries are as popular with celebrities as they are with average people eager to look a little better, and China is one of the world’s largest markets for beauty procedures.
But many surgery attempts have gone awry in recent years thanks to what have been deemed “medical accidents.”
Most of those accidents were caused by plastic surgery training schools that provide accelerated lessons to surgeons, who were then hired by hospitals and beauty parlors in spite of never being licensed to operate.
Beijing Youth Daily reporters found a number of training schools listed online that did not actually have a school at their registered location.
In one example, the China Korea Medical Plastic Surgery Training School did not match its registered location. The school was supposed to be operated in cooperation with Korean hospitals and located at 88 Beiyuan Dong Street, Chaoyang district.
The address turned out to be a hotel with restaurants, a conference room, an exhibition center and no plastic surgery training school.
Industry insiders said opening plastic surgery trainings without authorization is illegal, and schools hide themselves as much as they can. Most recruit trainees directly from their website, WeChat or social media channels. Their meeting locations are never marked with signs, and relocate every week to avoid detection.
Reporters called the official hotline but no one answered. A man surnamed Yu called back soon after and identified himself as a teacher.
When reporters asked where the school was, Yu said it was headquartered in Korea. The Beijing center was usually left unoccupied. Yu asked for the reporter’s WeChat account to send more information.
Reporters tried to contact several other schools: each required to WeChat to communicate.
Yu said learning to perform blepharoplasty, popularly known as double eyelid surgery, takes three days and costs 6,000 yuan. Cosmetic injection training takes five days and costs 7,800 yuan.
Yu also sent a copy of training materials to reporters, including videos and textbooks. In the video for double eyelid surgery, training included practicing cutting and suturing chicken legs, observing real operations and practicing on people.
Yu said the hands-on practice would be held by doing surgeries on classmates in pairs. Students could also take their own model or pay 1,000 yuan to operate on a real person at the school.
One video showed a class of more than 20 people in one class, most whom were female.
When searching for information about the teachers, who were supposedly graduates of a Korean school for advanced plastic surgery techniques, reporters were unable to find a medical practitioner certificate or teaching certificate. One website only showed the surnamed of the headmaster.
Yu also sent a graduation certificate sample.
The certificate was all in Korean except for the name of the student. Yu said the Korean was just the normal sentences seen on most diplomas and certificates.
Another school said the Korean certificate was for the student to show his or her patients. They said the Administration for Industry and Commerce and Ministry of Health did not recognize the certificate.
Yu said the school recommend real medical items for sale to students of the program and helped facilitate their direct sale.
Many former students went on to work in small facial shops.
The entrance of Tianfengli Market near Hepingli, Dongcheng had two people who were passing out small advertisements to customers. Services offered included permanent makeup, double eyelid surgery and others priced several hundred yuan.
Interested customers appeared to be women in their 50s.
National regulations on medical cosmetology forbid beauty salons from practicing plastic surgery.
Medical cosmetology involves the use of surgery, medicine and medical equipment to change people’s appearance and leaves invasive wounds. Beauty salons are only allowed to provide facial SPA services, cosmetics and body shaping.
Beijing Health Inspection said that although double eyelid surgeries and other cosmetology procedures are common, they must be performed by qualified medical practitioners. Plastic surgeons must a Doctor Qualification Certificate, a Doctor Practicing Certificate and a Medical Cosmetology Doctor Certificate.