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What Is The Most Popular Procedure In The Plastic Surgery Capital Of The World?

by Ji Hyun Joo / Oct 12, 2015 03:25 PM EDT
Plastic Surgery

Seoul, South Korea has been named the plastic surgery capital of the world, with the cosmetic surgery industry raking in up to $5 billion a year, according to CBS News.

In an industry that is so “versatile,” there is one procedure in South Korea that has proved to be popular time and time again — blepharoplasty, or double eyelid surgery, according to the news outlet Tech Insider.

In fact, the double eyelid surgery is the most popular operation done in the world, with 1.43 million people getting it done in 2014 alone, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Despite how popular the procedure is, the operation has gained quite a bit of controversy in the past for making patients look “less Asian,” ultimately implying that Western features are more favorable.

"Most Koreans don’t have a double eyelid line, so in that case, sometimes they look sleepy and tired," said Hang-Seok Choi, the director of JK Plastic Surgery, a Seoul-based clinic that sees 10,000 patients a year. 

The double-eyelid surgery also happens to be one of the cheapest operations from the selection, reportedly ranging between $1,000 and $3,000. It also reportedly has a shorter recovery time, which explains why it appeals to both men and women.

“Ladies want to have a beautiful look, defined look,” explained Choi.

20% of Choi’s patients are reportedly men who “want some beauty too.”

Despite the controversy surrounding the surgery, plastic surgeon Minhwa Na, who has been performing double-eyelid surgery for 15 years, told the Korea Herald that her clients are actually not trying to look less Asian.

“I would get serious complaints if I performed the procedure and the Korean patient gets a crease like the one of a Caucasian person. What people want is a natural crease that is suited to Asian faces," she said.

“The whole idea that undergoing this surgery is an attempt to look white is absurd."

In a society where plastic surgery is so common, the high number of patients undergoing plastic surgery has become a window into a world where outer beauty is valued. A prettier face equals opportunity. 

“I think it's [South Korea] more competitive than other areas of the world--very highly educated--so you can't just have a good spec on your resume," explained Oh Myeong-Joon, who is saving up money to undergo surgery.

“Because everyone has good grades, everybody has all the credentials, so how are you going to get ahead of it?"

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