updated 13 Aug 2013, 18:36
Login password
Thu, Aug 02, 2012
The New Paper
Email Print Decrease text size Increase text size
Make us look like K-pop idols
by Maureen Koh

Item Clinic, which sees about 15 to 20 cases from Singapore each month, has a local representative here.

Its clients include aspiring Korean stars and members of popular girl bands.

Its regional marketing manager, Singaporean Elaine Teo, 37, says: "Other than the easing of the law, another popular reason is the rise of the hallyu (Koreanpop culture wave).

"Everyone is into K-pop and K-dramas."

It helps too that most of the Korean celebrities - mainly female stars - are open about going under the knife.

And when Singaporeans walk into the plastic surgery clinics, they usually go in with a photograph torn from a K-pop magazine.

In a telephone interview, a spokesman for OZ Cosmetic Clinic says: "It's the wide eyes, sleek cheekbones and delicately upturned noses that Singaporeans want.

"These are more easily achieved, but it's harder to work on face shapes, or face contouring. Like, for example, someone with a wide square face who wants, say, a smaller pear-shaped face."

Ms Teo, who is separated from her husband and has two children, also went for a makeover.

She went for an incisional double eyelid procedure and a rhinoplasty in 2007, when she was working for BK Plastic Surgery.

BK Plastic Surgery, a top cosmetic surgery clinic, offers a pick-up service from Seoul's airport and provides Chinese and English translators for patients.

Ms Teo adds: "Good techniques, affordable prices and the keen demand have made it a boomtown for Seoul."

She worked for BK Plastic Surgery from 2007 to last year, before leaving to setup Item Clinic with two of its former doctors, Dr Chung Woo Jin and Dr Kim Jin Sung.

She admits: "There was a demand for their services and we felt it was time for us to move onto this new venture."

In just one year, Item Clinic became a leading cosmetic surgery clinic in Seoul.

And the two doctors make regular trips to Singapore to hold consultation services with potential clients.

Ms Teo says: "It's a good opportunity for those who are interested to get details and information (about the procedures) first hand."

A spokesman for VIP Plastic International Center says in a telephone interview that it doesn't usually fly over to meet potential clients - enquiries come via its website and e-mails.

He adds that it receives about 40 enquiries each month.

Exact numbers of the cosmetic procedures done by Singaporeans are difficult to ascertain, but if a check with 10 of the top clinics in Seoul is any indication, the numbers are rising.

All report an average of 20 to 30 cases a month each, with anything between 50 and 100 enquiries a month.

But psychologist Richard Lim cautions against the big rush to go under the knife.

He says: "Often, it can be an impulse, especially when people think it's easy to just fly off and return a new person.

"But along with the high demand, it could also lead to a fast-food chain service, where you just go in and go out."

Mr Lim adds: "When you do it here, you can first think through it over and over again.

"And if anything really goes wrong - as with reports of botched jobs done overseas - it's easier for you to seek remedy or, at worst, compensation."

He also points out that people tend to see the rosy picture and forget that the incidence of post-surgery depression is higher than most people are aware of.

"Risks and complications (of the physical aspects) aside, most patients are not reminded of the possible emotional doldrums," says Mr Lim.

"You're living with a new face and while you think it's better or prettier, others around you may disagree. And when the criticisms fly fast and furious, some patients can be so affected that they want their old face back, which is impossible."

Problems can also include adjustment difficulties.

Mr Lim says: "If you have lived with the same face for that number of years and suddenly see the new face, you are staring at a stranger and there are some people who take a longer time to get used to it.

"What's worse is, if the job is botched, you may have to go into hiding before you can go for a recovery job."

He adds: "Be realistic. Cosmetic surgery is not the only path to positive self-esteem or confidence."

This article was first published in The New Paper.

Related stories:
Family spends $26,000 on plastic surgery
Just $40,000 to look like my idol
Extreme 'makeovers' still niche
readers' comments

Copyright © 2013 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.