Elven-ears once considered an undesirable beauty flaw and a prime target of bullies, now have young people lined up for plastic surgery to achieve the look.
According to a report by the South China Morning Post, the elf ear, which typically refers to a pointed ear shape, has become the latest fad among Chinese young people.
Its become one of the most sought-after procedures among Chinas post-2000s generation, both male and female. Its believed it makes the face look slimmer and younger. The news outlet said Chinese social media is flooded with enthusiastic reports from those promoting the results.
The report cited one person who commented on the lifestyle sharing platform Xiaohongshu over the weekend: It is magic! I havent 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.)
Another responded, Oh I want it too, definitely worth it, so unbelievable.
A saleswoman at Shanghai-based Mylike Medical Cosmetic, a major domestic surgery service provider, told the South China Morning Post that demand is so high that customers have to line up to get the procedure, adding that its very safe and popular.
Yu Wenlin, a doctor specializing in otoplasty at Gaoshang Medical Cosmetic Center in Guangzhou, said he sometimes performs up to six elf ear surgeries a day and saw an increase in demand after he helped one online celebrity do it at the beginning of last year.
Yu said the popular ear form falls somewhere between what is medically called a Stahls ear, where the deformity consists of an extra cartilage fold in the scapha portion of the ear and a protruding ear, one that sticks out more than 2cm from the side of the head, traditionally considered a symbol of good luck in China.
When a child is around six years old, the ear is already 90 percent the size of an adult, yet the face is definitely under this proportion, Yu explained. So having more prominent ears tends to make one appear more childlike.
How is the procedure performed and what are the risks?
The two common methods for obtaining the look are to add a piece of artificial material or cartilage from other parts of the body to the area behind the ear or to inject hyaluronic acid.
The procedure does come with risks, according to Wang Jiangyun, a cosmetic surgeon at The Third Peoples Hospital in Zhengzhou, in central Chinas Henan province. Jiangyun warned of the possibility of infection, cicatrices, and ears ending up asymmetrical when adding extra cartilage. When using hyaluronic acid there is the possibility of infection, allergic reaction, blood clots, and skin necrosis, he said.
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, Wang added. So he suggests that people be more rational about this.
Yu, the Guangzhou surgeon, said the popularity of elf ears had come as a surprise to him, but he agreed that the fad would pass quickly, adding that hed refuse to do surgery on those who request ears that look like elves in the movies, which would require cutting cartilage, a permanent alteration.
Yu noted doctors are required to consider the patient in the long run. He said that many kids are asking for it on an impulse.
There is a differing opinion.
A report by The New York Post noted despite the trends popularity, it has received a lot of pushback from social media users as well as medical professionals. Another hashtag that went viral on Weibo with more than 200 million views asks: What do you think of social appearance anxiety progressing to involve the ears?
Many users noted in comments, these body modifications do not make someone more beautiful especially when the trend may die out soon.
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