Interview with Dr Kim Byung Gun, One of South Korea’s Leading Plastic Surgeons
It’s no secret that South Korea has the highest rate of plastic surgery per capita in the world. It has been estimated that between one-fifth and one-third of women in Seoul have gone under the knife.
It is still quite astonishing that South Koreans are so open about plastic surgery. Parents sometimes even pay for their children to undergo plastic surgery procedures to improve their looks because South Korea is still considered a traditional Asian country deep-rooted in the morality of Confucius’ ethics.
We’ve managed to catch up with one of South Korea’s leading plastic surgeons, Dr. Kim Byung Gun, Chief Plastic Surgeon of BK Plastic Surgery Hospital located in the Gangnam district of Seoul in South Korea, to help us understand the complexities by plastic surgery.
South Korea has the highest plastic surgery rate per capita. What is the reason for South Korea to be leading the world in terms of the number of people getting plastic surgeries?
Because South Korea has the most plastic surgeries per capita in the world, Korea has had the most operations per capita since 2009. Korean customers tend to have particularly high standards and tastes in beauty which lead to the development in the Plastic surgery industry as well. To satisfy the customers' high standards and needs, Korean plastic Surgeons have to be very experienced and specialized in the field and they use world-class techniques to perform plastic surgery.
Is it a norm for parents to pay for plastic surgeries for their children when they turn 21?
Taking Korea's whole population in mind, it is not a common. There are parents who are against plastic surgeries. However, when children in middle class families are not as good-looking, parents are willing to support financially. Meaning, if minor surgical procedures can improve their children's overall look, they will support when necessary.
It seems that South Koreans are very receptive to plastic surgeries and it seems common to South Koreans to get part of their anatomy fixed, why is this so?
For two main reasons. Firstly, because of Korean customers' high standards and tastes in beauty and Korea is also particularly active in leading innovation and in developing new and safe techniques for plastic surgery procedures. Korea is leading the world in terms of world-class techniques and safety in Plastic Surgery, bringing about societal acceptance of plastic surgery.
Eyelid surgery is the most popular plastic surgery because the surgery will make the eyes look bigger, wider and rounder depending on the patient's different demands and types. Asians and Koreans in particular tend to have a desire for bigger eyes which is why double eyelid plastic surgery and the lengthening of the inner and outer corner of the eyes are extremely popular.
What kind of plastic surgery procedures will help women shave off the years on their faces?
The demand for anti-aging procedure is constantly rising, as middle-aged customers are increasing. There are various procedures to make the patient look younger. A facelift using threads is a popular surgical procedure to tighten wrinkles and sagging skin on the face and neck caused by aging. Procedures with minimal downtime and short recovery time such as Botulinim toxin injection and filler injections also help tighten wrinkles of various types. Autologous fat injection is also one of the most popular anti-aging procedures. It gives you an overall volume to your face without the need of incision to achieve a beautiful youthful look. While facelifts and other rejuvenation procedures do not actually stop the aging process, they can improve visible signs of aging to restore years of youth and beauty to your appearance.
How do you prepare your patient if he or she is undergoing the knife for the first time?
Most patients tend to get nervous before their first plastic surgery. A support system can help you remain calm and reassured that you are in the best hands. Emotional support is important for the recovery as well. Therefore when nerves do set in, the doctors and staff members will support the patients emotionally and make sure that they are safe and well-taken care of.
You have many overseas clients who fly to Seoul for plastic surgery procedures, do you have any advice for them and how should they prepare for the trip?
Patients coming from abroad need to be aware of their surgical procedures and must be prepared for short to long-term specialized surgical follow- up which is essential in order to get the best result and maximum satisfaction. Therefore, consultation before the surgery is exceptionally important. During your consultation, your consultant will inform you about all the details to your surgery and you will be properly guided by the surgeons and staff on the surgical procedures and how to prepare for the procedures.
Some who have undergone plastic surgeries in South Korea complain about botched jobs, how can patients circumvent from getting botched jobs from plastic surgeries?
Every surgical procedure, including plastic surgery, carries certain risks. Each patient has to take into account that no treatment is completely without risk, no matter how skillfully the surgery is performed. It is extremely important that the patient fully understands all possible risks and side-effects before undergoing surgery.
To reduce risk of surgical complications, it is very important that the patient seek the advice of a specialist in plastic surgery and be well informed before undergoing your operation. Check to see if the surgeon is board-certified. Any licensed doctor can call themselves plastic surgeons. To be certain that your surgeon is qualified, choose one who is certified by the Board of Plastic Surgery.
As it is not illegal to operate without a specialist's license, there are doctors, who are not specialists, performing cosmetic surgeries. Of course we do provide our services to help correct botched plastic surgery procedures, but we hope that more patients will take precautions to ensure they choose a board-certified surgeon who can perform the procedure right the first time around. This is always the safest and healthiest option for everyone.
It really depends on what kind of surgery procedure the patient will be going through. Some plastic surgery procedures only take days to recover from (the more minor ones), while others can take weeks or even months. It is important to speak to your plastic surgeon prior to the procedure to know what to expect in terms of your recovery. It will likely impact many other spheres of your life, such as your work life and ability to go out with friends, so it is important to be able to plan for this.
Do you get many patients who undergo plastic surgeries after childbirth to get their figures back?
It is not a common case but they do exist. Patients with C-section scars after delivery usually visit more for removal of scars with surgical procedures.
Do you see an increase in males getting plastic surgeries as well?
About 80% of customers are female. But we definitely see an increase in our male visitors every year.