Getting Botox in Shanghai

Everything you need to know

by SHFamily | Mon, April 10, 2017


The number of women aged between 19 and 34 having the cosmetic procedure Botox® has risen by 41 percent since 2011, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Men are also increasingly turning to Botox® – they now make up 10 percent of all users, leading to it being dubbed “Brotox”. But what exactly is Botox® used for?

What is Botox used for?

As you can see from the picture below, botulinum toxin is used to treat more than wrinkles these days. Botulinum toxin is used to temporarily paralyze muscle activity. The toxin is produced by a microbe that causes botulism, a type of food poisoning. It is being used these days in a variety of ways. And while some may consider injectables somewhat controversial (with many practitioners now recommending patients begin treatments at increasingly earlier ages as a preventative measure), it continues to gain traction and has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to relieve a multitude of symptoms, including:

• Issues associated with muscle pain                                      

• Chronic migraines

• Excessive sweating

• Overactive bladder  

• Teeth grinding 

And while not every doctor will recommend Botox® for the aforementioned conditions, it’s important to acknowledge its use in non-cosmetic procedures for a variety of patients. According to our research, Botox® was the first company to administer the botulinum toxin as a cosmetic procedure.



Who is using it?

According to Dr Patrick Ma, dermatologist at ParkwayHealth Medical Center, women in their 20s to 50s  are mostly using injections, while women in their 30s to 50s mainly visit for wrinkle reduction, forehead lines, glabellar lines, and crow’s feet. The 20s to 30s set also come into the clinic for facial contouring (square jaw reduction).

Ma goes on to comment that there is a trend towards fast visits for touch-ups. “Because it works with an excellent safety profile, there are very simple ‘lunchtime’ procedures without downtime. The future of Botox® and injectables will get better and better at least within 10 years,” says Ma.

Local vs. import

So, if it’s Botox® you are looking for, most reputable clinics will offer both an American brand (Allergan) and a Chinese version (HengLi). The Chinese brand is almost half the cost (at an average of ¥1,200, as opposed to ¥2,000 for Allergan). Reports are mixed in terms of quality, with some doctors we spoke to saying the quality and effects are basically the same, while women who have tried both swear the Allergan lasted significantly longer than its Chinese counterpart. In general, you should expect one round to last for between three and six months.

Professor Jianxing Song, Director of Surgery at East Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery Clinic, himself internationally trained, advises those who want to use a local clinic, “to ask if the doctor is a member of the Chinese Society of Plastic Surgeons, as only fully accredited specialists are admitted.”

Similarly, Bioscor has a two-tiered system separating local and imported Botox® brands, with imported brands costing almost double. Founder, Dr Alan Ong exlains that “providing the patient goes to the right clinic, the quality of local Botox® can be very good, almost as good as those imported.” However, he warns that patients should be wary if someone offers them the injectable at a very cheap price, as it is probably unregistered and diluted.

According to Dr Ong, imported brands are less acidic, unlike local brands that inflict “momentary pain on the client.” Dr Ong says that while many would still rather have imported Botox®, patients are now becoming more “cost conscious” than “brand conscious.” So would he use the local brand himself? Taking cost into consideration, Dr Ong says he would happily “trust the local brand carried at Bioscor.”

Dr Song agrees that first-time patients often choose the import version as they assume it’s safer, but then switch as they become more confident. “Once they realize both are safe, money becomes the deciding and influencing factor,” he says. Ironically, Chinese clients are more likely to demand imported Botox®, in contrast to foreign clients, who prefer the discounted local brand.

Dr Ong explains that charges are generally per “area” and can quickly become costly when used across popular regions like the forehead, eyes and mouth. Local Botox® becomes more appealing for consumers who are searching for a more affordable option. In Dr Song’s experience, if consumers try the Chinese brand, “they will use it indefinitely and not change back.”

Buyer beware

Botox® might seem like a simple procedure involving an injection to the desired area, but Dr Song argues this is a misconception. “Administration requires special knowledge of anatomy as well as precision and skill in order to target the specific nerve locations,” he says. Dr Song explains that the industry is highly regulated in China, with strict rules clearly stating that Botox® can only be adminis ered by physicians, plastic surgeons and, in some cases, specially trained dermatologists. “Patients can be assured treatments here are safe as long as they go to a trained professional, preferably a board-certified plastic surgeon in a licensed hospital or clinic,” he says.

In contrast, Dr Ma feels that although the local version could be quite safe if “the doctor is skillful enough and experienced with the application,” it is not something he offers to clients. With over 10 years of experience working in dermatology and cosmetic treatments, he shares that his clients show a high demand for imported Botox®, which he is also more comfortable and familiar with. “I have personally experienced the treatment myself and was delighted with the result just two days after the injection,” Dr Ma says.

While black-market versions may seem attractive due to lower costs, it is often diluted and unregulated, and then purchased and administered within a non-certified spa or nail salon. The bottom line is that it’s worth spending a little extra to guarantee authenticity and safety.

Admittedly, Botox® isn’t for everyone. However, the increasing availability in China, a comparison of Chinese and Western brands and the differing cultural standards of beauty that dictate its use, are topics that will become worthy of discussion as it continues to rise in popularity around the world.

Where to go in Shanghai 

In Shanghai, there are many options available to Botox consumers. Bioscor is one clinic with a lengthy operating history in Shanghai that offers these services.

Another is East Plastic Cosmetic Surgery Clinic at Bestway Hospital, tucked away in downtown Xuhui District. Although it looks more like a private residence than a medical clinic, it boasts two operating rooms, multiple recovery areas, injection facilities as well as private consultation rooms. Ellen Leedle, Medical Practice Manager, explains that appointments are spaced out so clients will not bump into someone they might know when coming in for a procedure or treatment; discretion is of paramount concern here. 

Shanghai East Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery Clinic. 3/F Shanghai East Hospital, 150 Jimo Lu, near Pudong Da Dao, Lujiazui. Tel: 5876 4134. Web:

Ye Medical Center. 1165 Hongqiao Lu, near Yan’an Xi Lu. Tel: 6208 8088. Web:

WorldPath Clinic International. 399 Nanquan Bei Lu, near Shiji Da Dao. Tel: 2020 7888. Web:

Bioscor International. No. 5, Lane 89, Xingguo Lu, near Hunan Lu. Tel: 6431 8899. Web: