25 April 2019
According to statistics, South Koreans are most passionate about cosmetic procedures. Photo: chirurgietunisie
According to statistics, South Koreans are most passionate about cosmetic procedures. Photo: chirurgietunisie

The sad story of a cosmetic surgery addict

Twenty-two-year-old-year-old Berry was attracted to plastic surgery when she was 17. She actually looked quite attractive back then, but one day she saw an advertisement offering micro surgery for students for only HK$799.

Berry ended up spending HK$17,000. She believed it was a good bargain. “I looked so gorgeous after the surgery, and I’ve become addicted to it.”

Micro surgery has become very popular in past 10 years or so. It’s considered a low-risk plastic surgery process. For example, injections of collagen, hyaluronic acid and botox claim to reduce wrinkles, enhance the lips, do the nose job, repair scars, etc.

Touted as less risky while highly effective, micro surgery has attracted a lot of women to go for it. In Berry’s case, she even became addicted to it.

She has gone through nearly 30 micro surgeries over past five years, covering the eyes, nose, lips, chin, forehead and cheeks.

Berry said she first tried micro surgery just to please herself. She later met her boyfriend at 20, and the boyfriend kept making fun of her appearance. That made her very upset. She then resorted to plastic surgery in order to regain self-confidence and please her boyfriend.

In the end, the boyfriend still left her, but Berry still had to put up with various side-effects of the procedures. For example, her nose can easily go out of shape, and the wound would sometimes get inflamed.

That prompted her to share her regrets on Facebook to warn others against doing something similar. Ironically, she has received a lot of inquiries about what cosmetic procedures are better, which tells us something about how women are crazy about getting prettier.

South Koreans are most passionate about cosmetic procedures, and every 1,000 South Koreans go through about 20 plastic surgeries per year, according to data from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

The number is 12 per 1,000 in the US, eight in Taiwan and 7.5 in Japan.

By contrast, mainland Chinese report 1.5 plastic surgeries per year for every 1,000 people, suggesting vast growth potential.

China is tipped to become the world’s third largest cosmetic surgery market by 2018, with its market size estimated to double to 800 billion yuan from 500 billion yuan in 2015, according to data from China Association of Plastics and Aesthetics.

Aier Eye Hospital Group Co. (300015.CN), Lancy Co. (002612.CN), Shandong Jiangquan Industry Co. (600212.CN), Union Medical Healthcare (02138.HK) and Sisram Medical (01696.HK), a spin-off of Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group (02196.HK), have engaged in either micro surgery, or cosmetic procedures.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 13

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist

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