Valentine's Means Double Eyelid Happiness in China

February 13, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: February 13, 2006 12:00 am

SHANGHAI – Why proffer roses or chocolate when you can serve up the perfect face for your sweetheart this Valentine's Day?

As the traditional lovers' day approached in China, plastic surgery clinics in trend-setting Shanghai reported a huge rise in business.

“We've had a 50 percent customer increase over the Valentine's season,” said Pan Jianjian, director of marketing at Shanghai ConBio Plastic and Laser Surgery Hospital, one of the largest cosmetic surgery centres in the city.

China is no stranger to the notion of suffering for the sake of beauty, pioneering the painful foot binding process that gave women “lotus feet” deemed highly attractive to men before the practice was outlawed early last century.

These days, most of the 1,000-plus customers who came to ConBio each year were still women, around 95 percent, said Pan, adding the most popular operations were eyebrow remoulding and “eyelid doubling”, where an extra crease is added to the upper eyelid to make the eyes look larger.

Prices can be steep by local standards, at 800 yuan ($100) for an eyelid doubling, 1,000 yuan for a nose alteration and up to 4,000 yuan for a leg liposuction.

But price is no object where love is concerned, as droves of Chinese abandon traditional arranged marriages and opt for the real thing.

“People are doing it to find a mate,” Pan said.