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Cosmetic Dermatology in China & Trends in Cosmetic Tourism

A popular trend that we have noticed over the last few years is an increase in foreign patients seeking cosmetic dermatology treatments, coming to our NYC based office from countries all around the world. One of the main countries where we have seen a lot of patients visiting from abroad is China.

The market in China for both invasive and non-invasive procedures has shown a large increase over the last decade. A research piece that HSBC did in 2018 discovered that 38% of wealthy individuals in China would consider cosmetic surgery and whilst half of this group would typically go to South Korea for treatment they are now looking further afield, such as in the US.

The reason for the increase in interest in cosmetic procedures is due to a number of factors. To some degree this is in line with a general increase in the income (average income has doubled since 2010 in China) and particularly the disposable incomes of the Chinese, but there are other reasons too. The age of the average patient is younger and very influenced by the modern day “selfie” culture. Photos are often required for job applications in China.

However, the increase of “health tourism” is also due to perceived concerns about the quality of the cosmetic treatments that are available in China. The issue here is that the local market has been known to have issues with unqualified individuals carrying out treatments and making mistakes (though that can be the case in all markets, and you should always make sure to find a board certified doctor). There are high quality treatments available in China, but a general distrust in the local market remains as the region struggles to cope with the increase in demand. This may change soon, as more regulation has been undertaken in China to make sure that there is less risk to be had locally. For example, in 2015, China will have completed standardization of the additional career education period, which requires young physicians to attend 1–3 years of residency training first (Source: 2015 The Society for Investigative Dermatology).

One of the most popular treatments for both the Asian and Chinese market is to make the face look slimmer. Our own data and study of past trends indicate that popular treatments for Chinese individuals include Thermage, which is a skin tightening procedure that can help reduce the appearance of saggy skin around the face and body. Other popular treatments are for sun-spots, and procedures that treat the neck area that is susceptible to wrinkles due to collagen loss through the aging process.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) treatments have also become a popular option overall for Chinese patients, as they can do this quite quickly and come back on a later trip for a “boost.” Many patients look to get Juvederm and Restylane for instance, whereas options in China can sometimes be limited to local dermal filler companies such as BioHyalux.

We also offer a range of treatments that are suitable for Asian skin tones that typically deal with wrinkle reduction and overall skin improvements to tone and clarity. Another popular treatment is Botox, which can be used to tone the jaw area for a non surgical jaw reduction and improve the contouring in this area of the face, while younger patients often seek acne reduction and acne scar treatments such as eMatrix™ Sublative Rejuvenation.

For individuals looking to travel to the United States for treatment then we recommend combining a number of different complimentary procedures together to save time and money. Many of the procedures we offer have minimal downtime, and also can be carried out relatively fast which means that many of our clients can fit in an appointment during a business trip or a holiday to New York City. We expect there to be more patients from around the world in the coming years, including and especially from China – since at this point, only around 5 percent of them even have passports, and the Chinese government is issuing about 10 million new travel documents every year.

If you are interested in finding out more about the range of cosmetic procedures that we offer Dr. Green can discuss which options will suit you best. To book an appointment, please contact our New York City based office or call 212 535 3088

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