September 08, 2009 07:40
Recent surveys reveal surging demand for cosmetic surgery among young women.
According to the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, 729 clinics have been opened up and there are 1,242 plastic surgeons nationwide as of 2009. The service estimates the size of the cosmetic surgery industry at approximately W400 billion (US$1=W1,234), half of it among college students.
In a poll of female college students by the Chosun Ilbo and the Olive Channel from Aug. 5 to 23, about a quarter of 2,041 participants said they had plastic surgery. About 404 respondents or 80 percent said they would like to undergo additional procedures. Most tended to get nipped and tucked around their entry into college.
Some 120 said they had an operation immediately after high school graduation, 185 in college, 141 after college graduation, and some even in elementary school. Although 371 had surgery only once, 28 had more than three operations.
Eye surgery took first place, followed by nose jobs (97), Botox shots (22), lip and forehead augmentations (16), and liposuction (15). Forty-five had other miscellaneous surgery such as brow lifts or rhytidectomy.
While only 13 percent chose to undergo cosmetic surgery for vital reasons such as employment, 62 percent admitted that their decision was influenced by their friends and celebrities and thus had not given much thought to the matter beforehand. Eleven percent said they wanted to look "younger."
Even among the rest of the group, there was a desire for cosmetic surgery. Of the 1,551 respondents who did not have plastic surgery, 1,245 or about 80 percent said they wanted to. Eye surgery topped the wish list, followed by nose jobs, facial surgery and liposuction.
But the carefree attitude toward Botox shots or filler operations often leads to lack of qualms about illegal plastic surgery. Although the size of the illegal industry is unknown, it is estimated to be worth up to W20 billion per year.
Seo Jae-don, a plastic surgeon practicing in the Apgujeong area said the adverse effects from illegal surgery start to appear after a month or two, a fact exacerbated by many students rushing to get illegal surgery the moment they see how it has altered their friends.
The students' legal status as adults allows them to make reckless decisions alone. Misleading advertising is also a problem. Plastic surgeon Hong Jung-gun of the Korean Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery pointed out that competing cosmetic surgeons and clinics often promote and glamorize untested and risky procedures to attract more customers.
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