According to the China Daily, the China Association of Plastics and Aesthetics has reported that more than seven million cosmetic surgeries were performed in China in 2014. Plastic surgery is a booming business in China; the industry is currently valued at $62.6 billion. And that number is expected to double by 2019! If the industry grows as projected, China would become the third largest market for cosmetic surgery worldwide, trailing only the US and Brazil. Dare we ask why?

The BBC has an interesting video on plastic surgery in China. It gives one plastic surgeon’s answer to the question of why: “China’s economy enjoyed a healthy, double-digit growth for more than a decade, so now people can afford to pursue a higher level of satisfaction. That has brought us a booming cosmetic industry.”

The same plastic surgeon goes on to say, “There are other benefits, but the ultimate reward of becoming more beautiful is happiness.” Regardless of whether that’s actually true, the numbers alone would seem to suggest that lots of people believe it to be so. The video also touches on the fact that it’s not just adults that are seeking plastic surgery, but that high school and college students now flock to get plastic surgery as soon as summer vacation hits.

Interestingly, we once had a plastic surgeon attend a small group we led while in China. A member of our small group had invited him because he seemed open to exploring Christianity. At one point in the discussion, he said that he had gotten into his profession to help people. But what he had realized after many years of practicing, was that cosmetic surgery didn’t really make people happy. This realization, it turns out, was one of the reasons for his interest in spiritual matters.

There are other benefits, but the ultimate reward of becoming more beautiful is happiness.

All this makes for a potentially interesting conversation piece with Chinese international students (perhaps particularly for the newer generation, who are likely to have the economic means to consider cosmetic surgery). Do they know friends who have undergone plastic surgery (or have they themselves gone under the knife)? What do they think about the industry in general? Do they agree that “the ultimate reward of becoming more beautiful is happiness”? If not, where does one find genuine happiness and satisfaction?