China’s cosmetic surgery industry is expected to double in size over the next three years, fuelling intense competition among hospitals and suppliers to woo the growing number of mainlanders willing to change the way they look.

As plastic surgery hospitals and cosmetic filler makers increase marketing costs and stage a price war to attract customers, the industry’s profitability has fallen, while big players outpace smaller ones in growing market shares, according to a recent survey by HSBC based on phone interviews with 50 private hospitals and beauty salons in China.

“The pursuit of physical beauty had become big business in China,” HSBC analysts Zhijie Zhao and Esther Wen said in the report.

Cosmetic surgery is becoming more “socially acceptable”, they added.

More male customers and young people have jumped on the bandwagon to make themselves look prettier through dermal filler injections.

According to the 2016 Cosmetic Surgery Whitepaper published by Gengmei, a cosmetic surgery app with more than 15 million users in major Chinese cities, male consumers accounted for 21 per cent of procedures in 2016, up 4 per cent year on year.

The share of customers aged under 25 and over 35 increased from 31 per cent to 39 per cent of the whole population.

Given these changes in demographics, the stereotypes about cosmetic surgery — that it is only for women or movie stars – are fading.