Wang Bei, the tragic face of China's craze for plastic surgery

Wang Bei was on her way to being a pop star, a pretty woman from the central province of Hubei who made the finals of China's answer to The X-Factor. When the 24-year-old died in the operating theatre during a routine plastic surgery procedure earlier this month, there was outrage in a country where 3 million people go under the knife every year in an often-unregulated environment.

In 2005, Ms Wang took part in the "Super Girl" talent contest but didn't win. She and her mother went for facelifts to improve their chances, but a doctor punctured a blood vessel and she never recovered. A spokesman from the health bureau in the Siangtan district of Wuhan city said she died of an anaesthetic accident.

"As the demand for plastic surgery surges in China, some doctors not trained in the field are carrying out the surgery, which is risky and irresponsible," said Zhang Huabin, a professor of plastic surgery with Guangdong Medical College.

China is increasingly fixated with beauty as the country grows more prosperous and its people become more conscious about looking good at any cost. In the larger cities, cosmetic surgery has become the norm as more women – and some, but relatively few, men – go under the knife.

Just a few years ago, this correspondent witnessed a plastic surgery operation – an eye tuck – take place in the seat beside him at the hairdressing salon, carried out by a man who was clearly not a doctor. But the wave of plastic surgery disasters in recent years has led to a much more regulated industry.

According to data from the Chinese Association of Plastic and Aesthetics, there were 200,000 people working in the plastic surgery industry, which produces an annual income of £1.5bn. But it needs to be done in the right way.

One association official, who asked not to be named, said: "The whole industry is growing and we are trying to lead a healthy trend. Accidents happen in all kinds of surgery, and Wang Bei's case is just an accident, it doesn't mean the whole plastic surgery market in China is in danger or something. Based on the work of our association, we can see positive development in recent years. And now the government supports the healthy management and this effort will help this industry a lot." He said that once an injection is involved, or a laser treatment, it's a medical procedure, and should only be done in a hospital.

One of the weirdest footnotes to this tale of woe is that while Ms Wang was having her facelift, her mother was at the same hospital in Wuhan, having plastic surgery to change her jawbone. "I wonder who would dare to get plastic surgery after hearing about this tragedy," wrote the internet commentator Ye Xiaolun.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
News
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
science
Extras
indybest
News
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
people
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Digital Project Manager/BA

£300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Digital/Ecommerc...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Test Lead (C#, Java, HTML, SQL) Kingston Finance

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Access/Teradata Developer, Banking, Bristol £400pd

£375 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Access / Teradata Developer - Banking - Bristol -...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home