South Korea is often dubbed the Plastic Surgery capital of the world with an estimated 20% of South Korean women having undergone some form of cosmetic surgery. Going under the knife to conform to the country’s beauty standards (small nose, V-shaped face, and double eyelids) has become normal for many with popular birthday gifts including breast augmentations, rhinoplasties, and skin whitening treatments.
This trend is especially apparent in the subway stations of Seoul with copious plastic surgery ads lining the walls of tunnels and terminals. However, not every Korean is happy about the omnipresence of cosmetic surgery. Last year, the ads prompted more than 1,000 complaints filed against the advertisements forcing the government to announce a partial ban.
According to Korea Times, the surgery ads will be reduced by 15% next year and replaced with ads portraying and promoting cultural events. The plan is to increase the reduction steadily, much to the dismay of the cosmetic surgery professionals, which are part of a trillion-dollar industry.
It shouldn’t make too much a difference, though, considering that Korea’s medical tourism industry alone is currently worth around $500 million annually, according to estimates from the Korea Tourism Organization, and it’s getting more every year.
The demand for Plastic Surgery is so high, there are plans for a Plastic Surgery Medical Center to open at Seoul airport at the beginning of next year. It’s a highly questionable plan condemned by many doctors pointing out the obvious dangers involved in a ‘fly-in-fly-out’ surgery clinic.
“It’s generally considered safe to fly two weeks after a facelift and one to two weeks after a rhinoplasty,” says facial Plastic Surgeon Dr Min Ahn. “Flying before those times risks negatively affecting healing because of the air pressure changes with flying, the strain associated with traveling (luggage, walking etc.) and the potential exposure to unclean surfaces or sick people.”
Time will tell how far the Korean Cosmetic Surgery business can go, but it sure looks like a trend on a steep rise.