Wu Xiaochen said she was 14 when she had her first cosmetic procedure — liposuction paid for by her mother to reduce fat from her thighs.
At the time, she said she had been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that required her to take glucocorticoids, a class of steroid hormones.
“I had put on a lot of weight and felt very uncomfortable in my skin,” said Wu, now a 30-year-old model and entrepreneur based in Beijing. “I felt so much more confident afterwards.”
In the 16 years since that first procedure, Wu claims to have had over 100 surgeries, costing a staggering 4 million yuan (about $574,000).
She is now a well-known advocate of the industry and has opened two beauty clinics offering cosmetic surgery in Beijing.
Wu’s potential market is huge.
Wu Xiaochen on the operating table. Credit: Wu Xiaochen
A growing number of Chinese women are using cosmetic surgery to achieve bigger eyes, high cheekbones, narrow noses and skinny legs. Like Wu, many are seeking to emulate a beauty ideal inspired by elements of Japan’s manga comics, South Korea’s K-Pop and Western culture.