December 24, 2014 12:58
A 21-year-old university student died last week after undergoing four hours of plastic surgery to trim her jaw bone. An investigation will reveal the exact cause of her death, but it is heartbreaking to see yet another casualty of the cosmetic surgery industry, which has come to resemble a factory assembly line.
According to accounts from doctors, some large plastic surgery clinics in Gangnam have literally become assembly lines. Scores of doctors are assigned a set number of procedures on designated parts of the body each day, and timers are installed in operating rooms to remind doctors that they have half an hour to conduct a double eyelid procedure, an hour for an eye reshaping operation and two hours for a nose job.
To get more patients, some clinics perform a couple of operations together rather than one patient at a time and even carry out some procedures while consulting with patients without wasting time to move into an operating room.
Aggressive marketing tactics are another essential part of this industrial process. Subways and buses are filled with ads touting the benefits of plastic surgery.
The cosmetic surgery industry in Korea is scaled at a whopping W5 trillion (US$1=W1,103) a year, nearly a quarter of the global W21 trillion market. Korea ranks No. 1 in the world in terms of per-capita cosmetic surgery with a whopping 131 in every 10,000 people going under the knife.
In other words, things are completely out of control.
The Korean Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons vowed in April this year to cut down on advertising in public places, but this has not has not led to any tangible results. With more and more patients losing their lives, the time has run out for the industry to clean up its act voluntarily. The time has come to use legal measures to rein in cosmetic surgeons and to strengthen regulations to make them more accountable.
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