|After all, purely cosmetic surgery was deemed illegal by the Chinese government until 2001 and has really only taken off in the last five years.
Prices rank among the lowest in Asia Pacific, but prices for Chinese plastic surgery hardly seem a bargain to locals whose average income pales in comparison with that in nearby but more developed countries.
No matter. Mass production, cheap prices, and just-good-enough quality don't fly with most cosmetic surgery tourists.
The main factors driving medical travel are advanced technology and superior outcomes, the very reason why the United States remains the world's top medical tourist destination.
China has no tradition of developing cutting-edge medical services or investing seriously in advanced medical education or even basic provider certification until the last few years.
Despite low prices, China simply cannot compete successfully with the more mature and sophisticated plastic surgery establishments in South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and elsewhere.
While quantity does not beget quality, Chinese cosmetic surgeons seem sincere about improving outcomes and not just market share.
For now, however, China is stuck playing catch-up to the rest of East Asian medicine and remains hard pressed to keep even its own wealthier citizens from seeking cosmetic care as medical tourists in neighboring countries.