Extreme Plastic Surgery Causing Confusion at Airport Security in Asia

In the past few months, multiple news outlets have reported on an alarming discovery. Chinese women who visit South Korea for plastic surgery are undergoing such extreme makeovers that they no longer resemble themselves — to be specific, their passport pictures. As you can imagine, this makes it confusing and difficult to successfully pass through customs on the trip back home to China.

Why has this startling phenomenon become so widespread?

South Korea is a well-known city for plastic surgery — POPSUGAR calls it a “metropolis of cosmetic surgery” — and home to many top-notch plastic surgeons. It is very common for South Koreans to undergo plastic surgery. In fact, the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery says that nearly one out of every five women in South Korea has had plastic surgery to enhance her appearance. It is also common for residents of other countries to travel to South Korea to seek treatment; some sources claim that out of 7.5 million South Korean visitors, 800,000 traveled to have a cosmetic operation.

Many of these procedures are intended to “Westernize” a woman’s appearance, by enlarging her eyes, lightening the color of her skin or refining her nose and/or chin. Eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty and chin augmentation are popular.

Unfortunately, as reports show, these dramatic surgical makeovers are problematic for women who look unrecognizable when being scrutinized by their native country’s security forces.

Because of these misunderstandings, Chinese women that undergo cosmetic treatment in South Korea must now carry special plastic surgery certificates that include their passport number, information about the hospital they stayed at and the length of their stay.

What We Can Learn from This Story

There are a few important messages within this story. You might have already noticed that the approach to plastic surgery in South Korea is generally very different than that of plastic surgery in the United States.

In the United States, rarely do qualified and properly credentialed plastic surgeons perform such extreme makeovers. The demand is simply not there. Plastic surgery patients tend to request subtle transformations; they want to look like themselves, only a few years younger, slightly slimmer or with a better-looking nose or chin. Patients that desire dramatic transformations should have a frank conversation with a plastic surgeon to discuss the underlying motivation, and to recalibrate their goals. Having reasonable and realistic expectations is a key quality of a suitable plastic surgery candidate, and an important part of the planning process.

Qualified plastic surgeons in the United States also tend to take a different approach when working with patients of various ethnicities. Patients are proud of their unique ethnic or familial backgrounds and generally want to improve upon a problematic feature while retaining what makes them special. Because of this, most surgeons go to great lengths to preserve their patients’ ethnic heritage while operating.

This story is also a good reminder of the importance of selecting the right plastic surgeon to perform your surgery. South Korea may be home to many talented plastic surgeons, but there is an abundance of exceptional plastic surgeons in the United States (and more specifically, California). Dr. Sayah is among Beverly Hills’ most trusted plastic surgeons. He has the training, experience and talent to help you accomplish your cosmetic goals and enjoy greater self-confidence.

If you would like to discuss your plastic surgery goals with Dr. Sayah during a one-on-one consultation, please call (310) 905-8405 or send an email today.

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