BEIJING, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- Since Zhao Hongshan's first procedure -- a dermal filler injection to soften wrinkles four years ago -- he has spent around 80,000 yuan (11,335 U.S. dollars) on his face, including an eyelid surgery.
"Getting cosmetic procedures is just as normal as body building. Both make men more handsome and confident," said Zhao, 33, who owns a gym in Beijing.
Zhao is among a growing number of Chinese men seeking medical help including both surgical and non-surgical procedures to change their physical appearance, with a hope to boost self-confidence or give themselves an edge in today's super-competitive society.
In 2018, the market size of aesthetic medicine in China surpassed 495 billion yuan, with males accounting for around 15 percent of the total customers, according to a report released by cosmetic surgery social networking app Gengmei, whose name means "more beautiful" in Chinese.
"Around 20 percent of my patients are men. Some want to remove acne and look better in wedding pictures, while others troubled by baldness hope to look younger through hair transplants," said Zhang Hui, a dermatologist with a Beijing-based private cosmetic hospital.
Doctors found that hair transplants, eye bag removal, acne treatment and dental orthodontics were the most commonly requested procedures for male clients.
Wang Jun, vice president of the marketing department of Gengmei, admitted that there is a rising trend of young men resorting to aesthetic medicine, as most of their male customers are born after 1990.
Societal pressure and the misconception that being beautiful is a shortcut to success are often cited by patients as the reasons they chose cosmetic surgery.
"Some people just want to please themselves, while others hope to improve their odds in job hunting or dating," Wang said.
Chang Li, a 39-year-old orthopaedic surgeon in Beijing, receives three intradermal injections to improve his facial skin each year. To his satisfaction, he looks much younger than others his age.
Chang said that men are under the same social pressures as women and their confidence and competitiveness would be somewhat weakened by facial and body defects.
"Why not reduce the signs of aging if you can?" he asked.
Makeup and plastic surgery are no longer just the realm of women, with society's growing tolerance of beauty-seeking men.
Xinhua interviewed 86 people randomly chosen online. Around 77 percent said it was a personal choice for men to undergo cosmetic procedures and their choice should be respected.
However, experts have pointed out the risks of cosmetic surgery.
Fan Jufeng, director of the Plastic Surgery Department at Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, does not encourage people, no matter men or women, to "blindly" go under the knife.
According to the National Health Commission, a total of 2,772 cases related to illegal plastic surgery were handled by China's health departments during a yearlong crackdown that started in May 2017.
Fan also warned the public of the negative impact of live-streaming celebrities who promote the misconception that being pretty trumps all else.
On an online lifestyle-sharing platform, 21-year-old blogger Chen Jingwei shared his experience of undergoing plastic surgeries including a nose job, facial implants and a chin surgery in the past three years.
Quite a few male fans of Chen followed his posts and left questions asking for details of his surgeries. "How much does the eyelid surgery cost?" "I am a guy and I want to change my nose, which hospital should I choose?" "Did you have jaw implants or simply have fillers injected?"
"Whether to have cosmetic procedures is a personal choice, but people should not develop an addiction to it," Fan said. "After all, a rich and beautiful inner world is far more important than a pretty face."