Despite improvement in recent years, even surgeons in China agree that the plastic surgery sector would benefit from tighter regulation. At a Beijing conference in 2011, China's own vice health minister, likened the the cosmetic surgery industry to a "disaster zone" with frequent accidents that "can even be called neglect."
Only 1% of surgeons hold PhDs (the equivalent of a full M.D. in the United States), while most hold Bachelor of Medicine degrees. A medical license requires only an associate degree and is not particularly difficult to obtain.
Regulation is much looser in small towns than in the major cities, and some rural surgeons may have no formal qualifications at all.
Interestingly, the latest and relatively untested technology tends to appear first in smaller cities, while doctors in Shanghai, for instance, are often more cautious about waiting to see how the results pan out in the provinces.
While "rock-bottom" prices can be found outside the major cities, accidents there are more frequent as are complaints.
Litigation is not uncommon, even though awards for negligence pale in comparison to those in countries offering first-tier service.
The more affluent simply restrict their choices to established large clinics and hospitals or travel to other Asian or Western countries.
The less fortunate still favor unlicensed local practitioners where both prices and quality can be incredibly lower.
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