Sharon Lu, a 23-year-old college graduate in Beijing, says it was “out of a sudden impulse” that she decided to make her eyes look bigger and brighter.

In December, a plastic surgeon made one cut on each of her upper eyelid with a scalpel. Two hours later, Lu walked out of the hospital with her eyes a bit swollen; on the skin above them were the newly created creases that about half the people in East Asia are born without.

“It was as easy as getting a new haircut,” Lu says. “Many of my friends have had the operation. It’s a perfectly normal thing.”

The double eyelid operation, or Asian blepharoplasty, which adds a fold in the eyelid to make the eye seem larger, has turned from a controversial procedure to a common practice in China.

Chinese doctors say the number of eyelid operations has skyrocketed thanks to rising incomes, growing social acceptance and the long-existing beauty standard that favours big eyes.

Meanwhile, the predominantly female patients are getting younger, with parents willing to spend several thousand yuan to make their daughters more attractive, plastic surgeons say.

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