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Wed, Feb 03, 2010
Urban, The Straits Times
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Chin up for surgery
by Hong Xinyi

Clarence Lee, 36, celebrity make-up artist

Trust a veteran make-up artist to think of plastic surgery as 'permanent make-up'.

The man who has painted the faces of celebrities including Zhang Ziyi and Maggie Q says: 'What I find weird about most people's reaction to plastic surgery is that they seem to think it is a shameful thing to do.'

To him, getting a few nips and tucks is not that different from temporary enhancements often employed by women, such as push-up bras and make-up.

'It's still fooling people and there is only so much that things like slimming creams can do. I want to let people know that there is nothing wrong with plastic surgery. You shouldn't be ashamed of wanting to look better.'

Although he had not been happy about his receding chin for many years, the thought of getting work done struck him only after he got braces to fix his buck teeth in 2002.

The improvement to his profile prompted him to look at what else he could get done. On the recommendation of a friend, he sought out a plastic surgeon in Seoul and went under the knife in 2006 for a three-hour operation that cost US$4,500.

The result is subtle - his chin was pushed out a mere half a centimetre.

'It's not drastic. If I hadn't told anyone, I don't think many people would have guessed.

'I just wanted to enhance my looks,' he says.

It took 10 to 15 days for the swelling to subside. He was also given mild painkillers to take during the healing period, which he says was very manageable.

Lee freely admits that 'I have been vain all my life' and is now thinking about getting more work done.

A broader nose and fuller lips may be nice, he says. He also gets Botox injections every six months.

However, he is quick to add that he is not an advocate of drastic plastic surgery that transforms patients into wholly unrecognisable entities.

'I feel kind of sad for people who want to change their faces entirely. Maybe they suffer from low self-esteem. I don't believe in going overboard.'

While some friends initially advised him not to go through with the operation for fear of complications, they were full of compliments about the eventual results, he says.

He also did not tell his parents - a retired technician and a housewife - about his operation beforehand because 'I didn't want them to nag me about it'.

His father spotted the change to his chin afterwards and his folks 'are okay with it'.

The bottomline is that he is pleased with the way he looks now.

'It makes me feel better. I don't want to look flawless, but I feel that I look more refreshed and still quite natural and my features are now more balanced.'

This article was first published in Urban, The Straits Times.

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