During the First World War, Harold Gillies, a New Zealand-born surgeon, arrived on the Western Front and saw many soldiers whose faces were disfigured by bullet wounds and shrapnel.
Gillies, who has been dubbed the father of plastic surgery, developed a technique called the tube pedicle, which involved cutting a strip of flesh from a healthy part of the body – usually the chest or forehead – and then attaching it to the disfigured area.
The Daily Telegraph says that he reconstructed the faces of as many as two thousand soldiers during the Battle of the Somme in 1917.
An astonishing 20 million plastic surgery procedures were undertaken last year, reckons the Telegraph. The practice has also become increasingly popular in China.
And last week news about plastic surgery was making headlines yet again.
Hong Kong’s Apple Daily reported that police in the territory were investigating a plastic surgery scam that involved a group of wealthy Chinese damas (middle-aged women). It’s thought that many women fell prey to the scam – including the wives of top investment bankers and senior government officials.
The cosmetic service producer in question is headquarterted in Shenzhen. It claims to have five clinics in the mainland with its own professional team of surgeons and medical staff.
Its main line of business? To entice wealthy mainland women to attend their medical tours to Hong Kong that start with an upfront cost of Rmb38,000 ($5,100) per head.
The five-day tour, called “The Luxury Hong Kong Aging-Reversal Journey,” begins with a physical check-up and a lot of wining and dining. To get the ladies into the spending mood, the organisers also put together shopping trips around Hong Kong during the day.
In the evenings male models and dancers were hired to keep the Chinese damas entertained (the muscular men would walk around topless and posed for photos with the ladies, taken on luxury cruises).
The so-called medical procedures take place on the third and fourth days. Botox and hyaluronic acid injections were offered. All the procedures were conducted in the suites of a five-star hotel that was turned into a makeshift medical clinic.
Self-described “medical experts”, whom the Apple Daily alleged are really conmen, would then persuade the women to buy expensive supplementary treatments to enhance their youthful appearances. Some women have been spending as much as Rmb3 million on the trip.
After a little less than a year in operation, the medical group – which is thought to have arranged around eight tours per month – received the attention of Hong Kong’s police. It emerged those performing the operations were not licenced to do so. Fake drugs were used. Some of the women have reported bruising on their faces and rashes on their bodies (one procedure left lips resembling “sausages”).
The scam has attracted attention from mainland authorities too. The Shenzhen Evening News said that healthcare regulators are now investigating the case.
So add to the list of fake things from China: plastic surgeons…
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