Friday, November 4, 2011

Hub of plastic surgery, still

If they're going to keep recycling this meme,
then I'm going to keep recycling this graphic.

It's becoming a cliché: writing about how plastic surgery in Korea is itself a cliché. But there it is, yet again, in the mainstream American media.

From the New York Times:
For Ms. Chang, 25, a makeup artist, the 2.3 million won, or about $2,000, eye job is just the finishing touch in a program several months long to remake her face. In the previous two months, Ms. Chang had not only had her teeth rearranged, but her jaw bones cut and repositioned, for 22 million won.

“You must endure pain to be beautiful,” she said, adding that an eye job is so routine these days “it’s not even considered surgery.”

Cosmetic surgery has long been widespread in South Korea. But until recently, it was something to keep quiet about. No longer.

And as society has become more open about the practice, surgeries have become increasingly extreme. Double-jaw surgery — which was originally developed to repair facial deformities, and involves cutting and rearranging the upper and lower jaws — has become a favorite procedure for South Korean women who are no longer satisfied with mere nose jobs or with paring down cheekbones to achieve a smoother facial line.
How common does something have to be for it to be "a favorite"? Fifty percent? A mere ten percent? Two percent and rising? I wonder seriously what proportion of under-30 women in South Korea are rearranging their upper and lower jobs jaws (that was a typo I caught later, but it actually has some ring of truth to it, since one's appearance can affect job prospects).

And no, the proper calculus would not simply take the population of the twenty-somethings and divide by the number of procedures performed (or vice-versa). That would skew the actual proportion by adding in all the Japanese who come to South Korea to get it done more cheaply and all the Chinese and other East Asians who come to South Korea to get it done more expertly. Hub of plastic surgery indeed.

And I do wonder how many people are going more extreme. Or is this one of those things, like tongue-snipping, where it gets talked about more than it actually gets done?

As the article actually suggests, eyelid surgery is so routine as to hardly be considered "major." In fact, I have on numerous occasions (see here, herehere, here, and here) likened it to getting braces in the United States (which costs even more, alters one's appearance, and often requires invasive surgery in the form of teeth removal). But the other forms of surgery are extreme enough that the typical squeamish Generation-Y Korean female is going to think twice, then thrice about this and usually decide no. The costs-more-than-a-car price tag helps.

UPDATE:
D'oh! I forgot to add my admitted overgeneralization (from my infamous CSI post) about Korean-born women who get breast enlargement surgery:
You see from other parts of the show that the young Korean mother (murder victim #2) is sort of hot. Thin—maybe too thin for someone who has had a kid—and crazy nutso. But hot. Though she's lying on her back, you can see her breasts are still standing at attention, which is nearly a sure bet that they're mercenaries. The moral of this episode is simple: never trust a Korean-born woman who gets a boob job. They're nuts. I'm not kidding. Certifiable. If you don't like 'em small and natural, move along, brother. Move along.
Yeah, I'm sure there are some exceptions to the rule, but my point in adding that was to distinguish South Koreans' acceptance (as of now) for minor plastic surgery (eyelid surgery or slight changes to the nose, chin, or jaw) from that for breast "enhancement."

... Sphere: Related Content

7 comments:

  1. Plastic surgery in South Korea is overhyped by the media, Korean and foreign, especially other countries like Japan and China who are resentful of the Korean Wave. Korea is definitely not the hub of plastic surgery, not even in the top 5, as the article suggests. Here are the stat's from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery:

    Countries by percentage of total SURGICAL procedures:

    1. United States 15.3%
    2. China 14.2%
    3. Brazil 12.4%
    4. India 8.0%
    5. Japan 4.8%
    6. Mexico 4.7%
    7. South Korea 4.3%

    So looking at the total number of surgical procedures done worldwide, this is how each country ranks by percentage out of that total.

    For blepharoplasty (double eyelid surgery), here are the top five countries:

    1. China 15.2%
    2. U.S. 14.8%
    3. Brazil 11.1%
    4. Mexico 5.5%
    5. Japan 5.1%

    Korea is not on this ranking although it is in the top ten for most surgeries performed worldwide.

    You may check out the stats here: http://www.isaps.org/files/html-contents/Analysis_iSAPS_Survey2009.pdf

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  2. Koreans are more forthright about whether they have had any surgery compared to other countries like China where it is considered shameful or Japan. Even the U.S. has a stigma toward plastic surgery and that's why you don't see so much openness about it in the media. The Korean and foreign media like to hype plastic surgery trends because of the taboo and sensationalistic nature of the subject. "Ooh, look at this country that is so addicted to plastic surgery." What they fail to recognize is that being open about something doesn't mean there is more of it in a specific country or population. You have to look at statistics. A lot of surgery is hush hush in countries where it is considered taboo.

    Celebcosmeticsurgery.com is a website where Korean American surgeon Anthony Youn talks about plastic surgery and actually mentions the work done on some celebrities (not his patients obviously, but those he noticed through his professional eye). Yes, gotta tie in the Korean link somewhere.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You also need to factor in the medical tourism that Korea takes in from countries like China and even the U.S. I know that Korea has become known as a top spot for Chinese tourists to get plastic surgery.

    "The shortcomings of China’s medical system are hardly limited to cosmetic and plastic surgery. But the industry now generates an estimated $2.3 billion in revenue, and the government has begun to take note. Officials say new regulations will probably be issued this year.

    "One implicit goal is to halt the flow of Chinese patients to better-established hospitals in South Korea. Mr. Ma estimates that Chinese make up 30 percent of cosmetic surgery patients in Seoul.""


    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/24/world/asia/24beijing.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&sq=china%20surgery%20korea&st=cse&scp=1

    “As incomes rise in China, people are more focused on beauty, and more and more of them are coming to Korea” in search of it, says Sung Min-yun, head of a consulting firm that specializes in the cosmetic surgery industry here. In 2010, he adds, the number of Chinese clients leapt nearly fivefold from the year before."

    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2011/0301/My-what-big-eyes-you-have-Young-Chinese-drive-Korea-s-plastic-surgery-boom

    ReplyDelete
  4. itissaid, I agree with what you're writing in your comments here.

    About this...
    You also need to factor in the medical tourism that Korea takes in from countries like China and even the U.S. I know that Korea has become known as a top spot for Chinese tourists to get plastic surgery.

    ... I alluded to this in the second paragraph after the NYT snippet, where I talked about skew the stats on the actual proportion of Koreans getting plastic surgery "by adding in all the Japanese who come to South Korea to get it done more cheaply and all the Chinese and other East Asians who come to South Korea to get it done more expertly."

    The Chinese, Japanese, other Asians, and perhaps the Americans you mentioned in your comment are the ones making South Korea the "hub of plastic surgery," if it is one.

    And I don't know if that's a good thing or bad. I'm not a fan of boob jobs and I think a lot of people change their eyelid shape or other facial shapes when they look perfectly fine the way they are.

    But who am I to tell people who have that one "imperfection" or "flaw" on their face that they should just suck it up and live with it. After all, I got oral surgery and went through months of discomfort to straighten my teeth and do something about the "tusk" I'd had, and when I got my face slammed with a car door, I had the plastic surgeon put in my stitches on my nose and forehead instead of the regular E/R doc.

    It would be nice if we can get people to accept others and themselves on the looks God gave them, but I realize that's a bit of a pipe dream.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "when I got my face slammed with a car door, I had the plastic surgeon put in my stitches on my nose and forehead instead of the regular E/R doc."

    Interesting topic for future blog post?

    "It would be nice if we can get people to accept others and themselves on the looks God gave them, but I realize that's a bit of a pipe dream."

    Well, it's a personal choice, but what I object to is the media, particularly Chinese and Japanese, singling out Koreans as getting lots of plastic surgery and generalizing that most Koreans get it. Just looking at an attractive Korean actress and based on that alone, assuming that she got surgery done. There are lots of naturally attractive people. Just because one is beautiful does not mean that they got plastic surgery.

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  6. itissaid wrote:
    "when I got my face slammed with a car door, I had the plastic surgeon put in my stitches on my nose and forehead instead of the regular E/R doc."

    Interesting topic for future blog post?


    T'was a painful memory. ;)

    The face (actually whole head) being slammed in a car door had nothing to do with gangsters or anything violent. I just was within the arc made by the rear door of my minivan when someone closed it, not realizing how close I was. The door came down hard on my forehead and then again on my metal-framed glasses, which sliced downward through my nose so that the part that had been attached to my nose bridge was falling down like a flap.

    I didn't get knocked out or anything. I actually drove myself to the hospital, some ten kilometers away.

    I did nearly get knocked out, though, when the nurse swung the X-ray machine hanging from the ceiling right toward my skull, missing me by about a half inch.

    I might write about the story, though, from the point-of-view of using the medical system.

    Well, it's a personal choice, but what I object to is the media, particularly Chinese and Japanese, singling out Koreans as getting lots of plastic surgery and generalizing that most Koreans get it.

    I agree that's annoying.

    Just looking at an attractive Korean actress and based on that alone, assuming that she got surgery done.

    Yeah, that's annoying and stupid. A lot of it is simply jealousy.

    There are lots of naturally attractive people. Just because one is beautiful does not mean that they got plastic surgery.

    True, that.

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  7. More Chinese women are flocking to Seoul for plastic surgery. Reuters has covered it in this video.

    http://www.reuters.com/video/2011/11/05/chinese-flock-to-south-korea-for-plastic?videoId=224296509

    "Medical tourism in the country is booming - health chiefs say there were more than 80,000 medical tourists last year, compared to just 8000 three years earlier."

    "DR. PARK WON-JIN, DIRECTOR OF WONJIN AESTHETIC SURGERY CLINIC, SAID, "Recently, the number of patients have sharply increased along with popularity of South Korean dramas and K-pop. These days, we're having more than five patients for surgeries or consultation on a daily basis.""

    ReplyDelete

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