Technology has made plastic surgery cheaper, safer and better than ever before. The trend isn’t just happening here in America, though. In South Korea, one in five women living in Seoul have had some type of procedure done, according to a 2009 survey by Trend Monitor. South Korea has the highest per capita of plastic surgeries, prompting CNN to dub them the “Plastic Surgery Capital of the World.” Everyone from pop singers T-ara to the 2012 Miss Korea beauty queen is talking about cosmetic surgery benefits. A new TV show called “Let Me In” is showcasing plastic surgery candidates and the dramatic transformations they undergo.
Being unattractive is a real issue for the plastic surgery candidates that appear on the program, explained the show’s producer, Park Hyun-woo, at a press conference to kick off the third season. “It’s easy to say the standards of beauty are unfair or wrong, but if you haven’t been in their shoes and couldn’t carry on a normal life because of your looks, you shouldn’t judge,” he told the Wall Street Journal. The number of applicants for the show has grown 12 times to 4,300, but producers say they are only choosing people whose lives stand to gain the most from their transformation. Looking at the photos, the results speak volumes as Korea’s young women are made into beauty queens. This season, the show will feature young Korean men too.
Over a quarter of college students say they are considering cosmetic surgery for greater economic opportunities. “It’s become a sign of an ambitious young female professional who’s making an investment before entering the market,” says Hur Song-woo, director of gender studies at Sungkonghoe University in Seoul. Women are hoping to become more beautiful to gain a competitive advantage in their careers or to marry, she adds. Some women are starting as young as high school, with parents encouraging their daughters to become prettier.
Model Kim Tae-Hee is one of the most-requested faces at the thousands of plastic surgery clinics in Seoul. Eyelid surgery and nose-lengthening procedures are so commonly requested, that they’re referred to as “the basics” in the industry. The double-jaw surgery has become increasingly popular as well, with as many as 5,000 procedures done each year, according to NY Daily News. Initially it was designed as a form of facial reconstruction for facial deformities, but now it’s being used to create a slimmer jaw-line.
Of course, plastic surgery is not without its share of risks and potential side effects. In South Korea, a doctor in any field can become a plastic surgeon to capitalize on the growing trend. “Cut throat competition among the growing number of plastic surgeons has driven some to promote more radical procedures that others might not offer,” reports the NY Daily News. As a result, some women report nerve damage, permanent facial numbness, misaligned teeth, and inability to chew or smile. Even though the surgeries may be a few thousand dollars cheaper there, it is not worth the risk.
Dr. Thomas W. Loeb is a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City who can help you determine if plastic surgery is right for you. He takes a conservative approach – listening carefully to your wishes and recommending what is necessary to achieve the look you desire, with minimal downtime and recovery. To book a private consultation in his Manhattan plastic surgery office, call 212-327-3700.