As modern techniques get more advanced, cosmetic surgery, which promises to fulfill the desire to be beautiful, is increasingly accessible at more reasonable prices. You can even go home the same day. Some who wish to go under the knife or needle elect to travel to countries like South Korea, where plastic surgery is highly advanced and it costs much less than having it done at home.
Of course, selecting a plastic surgeon based on their price alone is a recipe for a horrible surprise when the bandages are removed. Sadly, one young Chinese woman had a minor procedure botched at 17, and now in her twenties could be mistaken for a woman in her sixties or seventies.
・Deciding to get cosmetic surgery as a 17-year-old
The woman in the photo, who appears decades older than her actual age, is Xiaolian of Guangdong Province, China. Xiaolian had always hated the thinness of her face. On top of that, her boss at the shop where she worked part-time allegedly told her “your face is so thin, you look like a pauper”.
Ah, these different ideals of beauty. Isn’t the grass always greener? If I could have switched my plump cheeks for a thin face with razor-sharp cheekbones, I would have done it in a heartbeat. And then probably wanted to switch it back again. After years of diligently sunning and applying fake tan to my naturally pasty-white skin, I arrived in Japan and was dazzled by the strangeness of this reverso-world: a dizzying array of skin whitening products greeted me at every convenience store. Can’t we appreciate what we have—the individuality that makes each of us unique and special? Well, I guess spending wads of cash to obviously alter one’s appearance and achieve a cherished social ideal bestows a special kind of status in itself.
To get rid of her complex, Xiaolian decided to undergo a procedure to plump up her face. But when she made enquiries at a clinic, the cost quoted was considerable. It wasn’t a price that she could afford to pay.
・Can’t afford it? Go to a cut-price clinic instead—problem solved??
After this initial disappointment, a friend referred Xiaolian to a different clinic, which promised to perform the same procedure for a much more affordable price. The price was right, and the doctor seemed legit, so she decided to go ahead with it. The injections to her face gave her the plump cheeks she had always wished for.
・Years later, her face began to swell
However, in 2009, some years after having this treatment, Xiaolian’s face began to swell up. Her eyes, nose and other features were changing shape. By 2013, her face had become even more swollen, and her hair started to fall out. It’s hard to believe that she is still in her twenties—she now has the face of a much older woman.
・The substance injected into her face was toxic
Understandably, Xiaolian was extremely traumatized by her drastically-altered looks. She said that she considered suicide. Wondering if she was suffering from some kind of serious illness, she had a thorough medical checkup, but nothing was found to be abnormal. Her thoughts turned to the minor procedure she’d had when she was just 17—could that be the cause?
Investigating the matter, she discovered that the substance injected into her face was hydrophilic polyacrylamide gel. Previously used for breast augmentation, its sale was now banned in China due to the harm it caused to the body.
・Doctor: “Even for a minor procedure, choose a clinic you can trust”
Xiaolian is currently undergoing facial rehabilitation at a cosmetic surgery centre in Guangzhou. As the gel was in her body for a long period of time, she has been seriously affected by it and recovery is difficult.
In her case, a gel was used which has since been banned, but in other cases substances have been used which haven’t been approved at all. It’s also very difficult for patients to judge whether the treatment delivered in cosmetic procedures is the genuine article. A doctor from the Guangzhou centre warns that “even for a minor procedure, you need to choose a clinic you can trust”.
▼ Xiaolian, before her face swelled up
Personally, I would prefer to take my chances with my natural face, and steer well clear of any scalpels or chemicals in the vicinity. But who knows, in the future the technology may advance to the point where I’d be silly not to get Angelina’s lips or Kim’s booty. If so, I’m prepared to eat my words!