Trends are funny; yesterday’s defect can become today’s fad. In the latest turn of events, turning your normal or portly ears into elongated elf ears has become the desire of young Chinese people amid a rapidly growing cosmetic surgery market. People in China are actually willing to pay to have their ears extended into ‘elf ears’ because they think it makes their faces look slimmer. The trend has already spread like wildfire, and Chinese social media is awash, with people enthusiastically promoting the results of the ear procedure. “It is magic! I haven’t changed anything on my face, and yet all my friends said I look different the day I got it done. (My face looked smaller, and I looked smarter, etc.)”, one user shared feedback on Xiaohongshu.
The procedure is not limited to just women. Even men are keen to get a chiseled look and a sleek face, thanks to elf ears. The result can generally be achieved in two ways: borrowing cartilage from another part of the body and placing it behind the ear to make the ear protrude, or it can be done by injecting the ear with its ear hyaluronic acid. Yu Wenlin, a doctor at Guangzhou’s Gaoshang Medical Cosmetic Center, commented, “I dare to say that after this ‘elf ear’ frenzy, there would be an army of beauty seekers requesting to get their original ears back, just like those ‘online celebrity nose,’ ‘European-style double-fold eyelids,’ etc., that once were very popular.”
China’s plastic surgery industry is the second-biggest plastic surgery market globally. In 2017, China recorded more than 15 million plastic surgery procedures; in 2018, that number rose to more than 20 million procedures, and by 2019 the industry generated nearly $27.7 billion. Both male and female beauty seekers have flocked to hospitals seeking the procedure even after being warned of risks of infection, cicatrices, and ears ending up asymmetrical when adding extra cartilage, infection, allergic, blood clot, and skin necrosis when using hyaluronic acid.
These risks haven’t stopped people from wanting to look a certain way and are lining up. Shanghai-based Mylike Medical Cosmetic, a major domestic surgery service provider in the city, mentioned demand is so high that customers have to line up to get the procedure, “It’s very safe and popular. We have customers queuing up for this every day,” she said. Would you jump on the elf ear bandwagon to make your face look slimmer and younger?