Thanks to the popular Psy song “Gangnam Style,” most people are aware of South Korea’s “Beauty Belt,” where cosmetic surgery clinics line the streets. Earlier this year, the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons reported that the South Koreans were the most cosmetically-enhanced people (per capita) in the world. Wide eyes, small noses, v-shaped chins, narrow jaw-lines and slightly upturned lips have become the gold standards of South Korean beauty.
To get this look, high-end clinics are charging more than $10,000 for the suite of procedures. Young girls without the patience or the capital to seek cosmetic surgery from the pros are turning to cheap, unregulated tools sold online to do their own plastic surgeries at home, according to a report by the Global Post.
“We want to become pretty without spending all the money,” a 17-year-old dubbed “Na” told Global Post news two years ago. “We know that these methods aren’t approved of, but lots of our peers do it.” She added that she knows about the dangers, but doesn’t think it will happen to her.
Among the tools purchased for $5 to $20 online were:
These treatments are painful, the girls admit, but they feel it’s necessary to get a certain look to find potential mates and get ahead in their careers. Of course, these fads come and go, especially as the demographic shifts younger and younger. “Elementary school kids wear them,” Na and Choi said of the “lame” eyeglasses.
Even so, South Korean cosmetic surgeons are concerned about how these girls are impairing their still-developing faces and bodies with these gadgets. Teens have shown up at clinics with eye infections and severe bruising – which, thankfully, can be repaired. The best cosmetic surgeons in New York have also been keeping an eye on these global trends and use the stories as a cautionary tale for their patients who want a beautiful, natural look at a rock-bottom price.
Two years ago, the UK Telegraph told the devastating story of Hang Mioku, a Korean woman whose obsession with plastic surgery led her to inject cooking oil into her own face, causing irreparable damage. She had her first plastic surgery procedure at age 28 and was hooked from then on.
Over the next two decades, she sought countless procedures in South Korea and Japan, but the results left her face enlarged and disfigured to the point that no plastic surgeon would touch her. When she returned home from Japan after an absence, her own parents no longer recognized her. They suggested that she go in for mental disorder counseling.
After dropping out of the expensive program, Hang found a doctor who gave her silicone injections – as well as a syringe and silicone that she could implant herself! Once her supply of silicone ran out, she turned to cooking oil. The end result was horrible disfigurement. Sympathetic Korean TV viewers pitched in donations to cover the cost of facial reduction surgery, but unfortunately, the damage had already been done.
A series of operations removed 60 grams of foreign substance from Hang’s face and 200 grams from her neck, but still left her scarred and disfigured for life. The woman says she now sees the damage she’s caused and wishes she could have her old face back again.
“I am deeply saddened by what is going on with young women in Korea,” says Dr. Thomas W. Loeb, considered by many among the best plastic of surgeons in New York City. “Fortunately, much of the damage has been reversible, but the tales of pain and sub-par results has proven that there is no substitute for a qualified, board-certified plastic surgeon with a track record of successful outcomes.”
Dr. Loeb adds, “We take every step to choose candidates wisely and from there, minimize their pain, expedite their recovery, and ensure that they are getting the precise type of look they desire.”
Private consultations can be made with Dr. Loeb – who is world-renowned for his Paula Jones rhinoplasty – by calling his Manhattan office at 212.327.3700.