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Cosmetic surgery gets a new look

Updated: May 31,2017 11:21 AM     Shan Juan

China has launched a yearlong campaign to clean up the cosmetic surgery industry and ensure public health.

The campaign, from May to next April, is being waged by State authorities responsible for health, public security, cybersecurity, customs, drug safety, and industry and commerce, according to a notice from the National Health and Family Planning Commission over the weekend.

According to a plan for the campaign, it covers areas like the production and application of drugs and appliances, and staff training and advertising, with a focus on cosmetic injections.

Qi Zuoliang, head of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences’ Plastic Surgery Hospital in Beijing, said cosmetic injections are among the most popular of such procedures in China and involve lots of irregularities. The cosmetic surgery market was valued at over 400 billion yuan ($58 billion) in 2015 and was estimated to be increasing by 30 percent annually, Qi said.

“Some who are not qualified enter the sector only for profit, which endangers patients’ health and even their lives,” he said.

There are tens of thousands of practitioners in China, but fewer than 3,000 are registered with health authorities, according to the Chinese Association of Plastic and Aesthetics.

More than 60 percent of all serious complications from cosmetic injections, including allergic reactions, rashes, headaches and muscle stiffness, were reported at unlicensed facilities, Qi said.

Li Weiwei, director of the plastic surgery department of Beijing Tsinghua Changgung Hospital, said she has seen patients go blind after improperly performed injections.

The internet and social media apps make it easy for unqualified facilities like beauty salons to advertise and can make them harder to detect if ads target closed groups, she said.

The plan emphasizes that cosmetic injections fall under the category of medical cosmetology, so must be performed at qualified medical institutions. Also, unlicensed drugs and medical appliances will be removed from businesses, particularly those used for cosmetic injections.

The two major substances used for such injections in China are botulinum toxin, which causes muscles to relax and is better known by the brand name Botox, and hyaluronic acid, which is used as a filler, experts said.

Both can be used to treat wrinkles, but botulinum toxin is classed by the China Food and Drug Administration as a drug while hyaluronic acid is classed as a medical appliance, due to the different ways in which they work.

Unlicensed training and illegal advertising also are targets for the campaign, according to the plan.