China has banned leg-lengthening surgery that a largely unregulated beauty industry has been offering to customers who want to be taller.
"Leg-stretching surgery for the image conscious has been banned by China's Health Ministry after a spate of botched operations," the Xinhua news agency reported Saturday.
The operation involves breaking the patients' legs and stretching them on a rack, and has led to several cases of disfigurement, Xinhua said, citing the health ministry.
Hospitals that conduct at least 400 orthopedic operations a year and offer post-surgery care and rehabilitation will be allowed to carry out such operations in future, but only on strictly medical grounds, according to a ministry circular.
The surgical procedure, popular among young Chinese professionals who believe height will help them climb the career ladder, was developed in Russia to help patients with birth defects such as dwarfism.
Botched operations carried out by unauthorized beauty clinics have left many patients physically and psychologically scarred, Xinhua said, without detailing the injuries.
Ten people, enticed by a promise of "height surgery without pain," were reported to have been disfigured after they underwent the operation last year at a Beijing hospital.
The health ministry said hospitals must in future tell patients about the risks involved, while only qualified personnel would be allowed to carry out the procedure.