Authorities in Beijing have recently stated that cosmetic medicine institutions may not fuel anxiety about people's physical appearance, while strengthening curbs on irregular charging practices in the industry.
The Beijing Municipal Health Commission and the Beijing Municipal Administration for Market Regulation jointly released a sample contract for cosmetic medical services on July 7.
The contract defines cosmetic medical services as those using surgery, medication, medical equipment or other invasive medical techniques to restore or reshape a person's physical appearance.
"Cosmetic medical procedures require professional skills, and these are complicated and carry some risks. However, the expectations and evaluation of the outcomes of such procedures are often shaped by subjective opinions," the commission said.
"Consumers are advised to strengthen their understanding and knowledge of the risks posed by cosmetic medical services, form rational expectations of their results and use them in a rational and moderate manner," it said.
According to the sample contract, cosmetic medical clinics should honestly introduce and promote their services and results and should not adopt false advertising or stir anxiety about people's physical appearance.
They may not impose extra fees beyond the prices listed, charge fees that are not clearly stated or expand the scope of treatment without authorization.
The sample contract also prevents service providers from charging fees that exceed five times the cost of a single course of treatment at one time.
Customers who make an advance payment at a cosmetic medical clinic are entitled to terminate their contracts and obtain a refund within seven days of making payments.
The annual number of plastic surgery hospital visits in China rose from less than 320,000 in 2010 to over 1 million in 2019, and the annual number of visits to cosmetic medical clinics jumped from 530,000 to nearly 8.4 million, according to data released by the National Health Commission.
As the industry has been booming in recent years, customer complaints and disputes have also spiked.
A report released by the Beijing Sunshine Consumption Big Data Research Institute said that nearly 91,000 complaints were filed about cosmetic medicine institutions from January to May. The complaints focused on dubious credentials, the quality of medical services and inappropriate advertising tactics.
Guo, an accountant in Beijing who gave only her family name to protect her privacy, said she has sometimes encountered cosmetic medicine salespeople on the streets who attempted to get her to visit their facilities.
"A salesperson bluntly told me that my skin was terrible for a woman and I would never get married as a result," she said. "I was able to ignore his demeaning words."