History of Japanese plastic surgery
Originally, plastic surgery in Japan was primarily performed for reconstructive purposes. In the late 1940s and 50s, the Hibakusha – those who had been affected by the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – received plastic surgery to repair their wounds. Some, such as Shigeko Niimoto, became symbols of post-war progress after they were sent abroad for pioneering surgery to reverse their physical damage. Since that time, plastic surgery has evolved in Japan and the stigma associated with cosmetic procedures has diminished.
Spiritual significance and folklore
In Japan, certain facial characteristics carry special significance. This phenomenon has most recently been illustrated through Japan’s palm surgery craze. With the aid of a small electric blade, it is literally possible to change your future with Japanese plastic surgery in just fifteen minutes – and demand is ever growing.
Japan plastic surgery clinics
There are numerous private clinics in Japan. Despite measures, these private clinics are not well regulated, and some patients end up seeking corrective procedures in one of the country’s university hospitals. The Japan Society of Aesthetic Surgery acts as the industry’s governing body, and it is to this group of doctors that many women in their 20s and 30s gravitate in order to enhance their facial features and improve their career and marriage prospects. Anti-aging, rather than complete physical transformations, are more desirable in Japan.
Currently, the top two facial procedures being sought by Japan plastic surgery patients are eyelid surgery (‘double eyelids’) and rhinoplasty. Body procedures, although not as popular as they are in North America and Europe, are on the rise – particularly breast augmentation and liposculpture. Aesthetically speaking, Japanese plastic surgery procedures render fairly similar results to those performed in South Korea, although standards of beauty are comparatively less rigid in that Japanese patients are not quite as preoccupied by Korea’s specific set of aesthetic ideals. However, it seems that the popularity of K-Pop plastic surgery trends has been fairly instrumental in driving business abroad, given the country’s role in homogenizing perceptions of beauty across the Asian continent.
Social media channels like YouTube and Tumblr attest to the growing popularity of the ‘French doll’ look. Although most of these take the form of makeup and clothing tutorials, there have been a number of cases where surgical procedures have been undertaken to become a real life, living doll. The most notable case is Vanilla Chamu, who has spent over $100,000 on at least 30 facial and body procedures.
Medical tourists from Japan
Until fairly recently, wealthy Japanese citizens tended to travel to either Europe or the United States for cosmetic surgery. However, it appears that South Korea has overtaken both, becoming the number one medical tourist destination for Japanese plastic surgery patients. This has ignited competition between Japanese plastic surgeons, who are eager to claw business back from foreign shores.