THE PURSUIT OF BEAUTY

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Beauty is big business – and it has been since the ancient Egyptians began using black kohl to line their eyes some 6,000 years ago. As time progressed, this pursuit for physiognomic perfection pushed us to bleach our blemishes with lead and chalk or ingest arsenic to bring a “natural” flush to our cheeks. Still, the industry didn’t get its global boost until the early 1900s, when beautician Elizabeth Arden opened her now-iconic Red Door salon in New York City. With it, the cosmetics giant unknowingly started the West’s dominance of a lucrative industry that would extend into the start of the next century.

But the new millennium brought along with it a noticeable shift in the business of beauty. Western influence began to wane in the late 1990s, when the surging growth of Internet access in the East opened the region and its beauty innovations – BB and CC creams, collagen drinks and carbon cleansing soaps, among others – to the rest of the world. As a result, Asian beauty has become big business, with one segment in particular gaining significant strides in recent years: plastic surgery.

PLASTIC SURGERY FOR ALL

Swelling demand for cosmetic procedures – both surgical and non-invasive – in countries such as South Korea, China and Thailand has spurred a billion-dollar industry that is showing no signs of abating. Citing figures from the China Association of Plastics and Aesthetics, a BBC report revealed that seven million plastic surgeries took place in the East Asian country in 2014, generating 400 billion yuan (US$60.97 billion). The figure is expected to double by 2019.

And while the United States is globally still in the lead in terms of total number of cosmetic procedures (1.4 million in 2014), South Korea boasts the highest number of surgeries per capita. Seoul, its ultra-modern capital, is home to more than 4,000 beauty clinics, where a reported 20% of women between the ages of 19 and 49 have gone under the knife, according to research from Tech Insider. Overall, the country’s growing army of plastic surgeons performed some 650,000 procedures a year. However, these startling statistics are not exclusive to South Korean nationals. International news agency Al Jazeera reported that about 400,000 foreigners headed to the East Asian peninsula for medical treatment in 2013 and the government hopes to welcome one million “medical tourists” by 2020.

SOUTH KOREA: A STAR IN THE GLOBAL BEAUTY INDUSTRY

iStockKorean-2From BB cream to gel sleeping masks, South Korea is now widely considered to be at the forefront of revolution in the global beauty industry. If you happen to be a fan of K-Pop musicians or some of the country’s addictive drama series, you must be no stranger to the youthful complexions of Korean women — which, in addition to their natural beauty, are further improved by these innovations.

Just like many other modern women worldwide, the female denizens of Seoul aim to exude an attractive appearance amid their busy schedule. In pursuit of things like blemish-free skin and a glowing vibe, many of them not only depend on everyday skincare regimen, but also occasional cosmetic procedures performed by professional surgeons.

Growing pressure to meet a very specific standard of beauty has played a prominent role in the region’s plastic surgery movement, along with Asia’s infamously fierce level of academic competition that has now expanded to include the “perfect” facial features – which is believed to be a key factor in gaining employment opportunities, a romantic relationship and, in turn, happiness.

FACIAL FENG SHUI

Most critics are quick to blame a young and manic media for encouraging this obsession for perfection. And while the sector – thirsty for creative expression after decades of restriction – may have played its part in the accelerating beauty pursuit, its roots may be found in a far older Asian practice: facial feng shui. According to the ancient art of “reading” faces, your visage foretells your fortune. A large nose, for example, is an indication of wealth and vitality; while a strong, prominent chin can help you maintain your riches.

Sixty years ago, those “unfortunate” enough to be born with thin lips (argumentative) or a mole on the nose (bad luck) had no choice but to live out their lives with their supposed flaws, but today, with Asia’s technical innovations in plastic surgery progressing in leaps and bounds, anything is possible.

FROM TABOO TO TRENDING

In a nation with reportedly the highest per capita rate of cosmetic plastic surgery, Koreans no longer consider the act of going under the knife taboo. In fact, they increasingly see such treatment as a safe, private and quick way to enhance their features and, of course, self-confidence. The proliferation of top plastic surgeons and clinics — not to mention the implementation of strict regulations on cosmetic procedures — in the country has also invited a growing number of overseas visitors who are looking to enhance their looks. Below we will take a closer look at five cosmetic surgery trends that have been taking hold in South Korea.

Double eyelid surgery

This procedure is for those who feel their creaseless eyelids cause their eyes to look unattractively small and droopy. The double eyelid surgery solves that conundrum by creating a crease in the upper eyelid, in effect making the eyes bigger and brighter. According to JK plastic surgery clinic in Seoul, there are normally three kinds of options when it comes to this procedure: non-incisional, partial incisional and incisional.

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Breast augmentation

Breast augmentation surgery, also known as mammoplasty, provides women with a natural breast shape that suits their body type. A relatively new technique, as developed by Dr. Yim Joonghyuk of Seoul’s TL clinic, is called teardrop mammoplasty. As its name suggests, the procedure utilizes a teardrop-shaped implant that resembles the curve of the innate breast, hence making it appear more natural and full-busted.

Body sculpting

Body sculpting procedures vary widely, but they all have one goal: to shape that well-balanced body figure of one’s dreams. Ranging from abdominoplasty (also known as tummy tuck) to liposuction and fat grafting, these treatments will let men and women bid farewell to areas of excess on the body that were previously impossible to remove, even through exercise.

Nose enhancement

Rhinoplasty is a popular procedure to resize the shape of one’s nose as desired. The intricate surgery, according to Seoul’s The Line clinic, involves reshaping the nose bones, septum and cartilage and takes about two to three hours. The recovery process for the rhinoplasty procedure normally requires the application of tapes and splints on the nose for a minimum of one week.

Topical Botox treatment

It might not be a surgical procedure per se, but Botox injection is still a widely popular treatment to reduce wrinkles on the face. For those who want to avoid needles, however, innovative skincare products like BoLC A+ could very well be the answer. This new facial serum by the Korean company Midaskin promises Botox and filler-like effects, thanks to its botulinum ingredient that visibly improves fine lines and wrinkles after three to four weeks.

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EXPLORING THE OPTIONS

Of course this short list of examples only scratches the surface in terms of the many procedures available, which is why many feel overwhelmed by the ever-changing list of options. And how does one know which doctors and facilities operate with the highest levels of medical expertise and care? Not all practitioners and clinics are operate with the same standards, and the cost of making a bad selection can be off-putting enough for some to abandon the idea all together.

For those who may be considering their own nip-tuck getaway in Seoul, the professional experience planners at Maxuri can remove these stresses quicker than an injection of Botox can remove unwanted lines and wrinkles. For their beauty experience packages, Maxuri works exclusively with trusted medical facilities and highly trained medical experts in Seoul to create individual experiences that are tailored specifically to each individual’s needs. All doctors within their experience package are board-certified plastic dermatologists who are educated and trained from top-tier medical schools.

In addition to personal consultations and custom treatments, the Maxuri beauty package includes translation services, accommodations in a 5-star hotel or premium residency, transportation by Mercedes-Benz, BMW or equivalent and various other options such as a high-end shopping experience. They even offer consultation services with a facial feng shui expert. Packages are available for both men and women and can be arranged for either individuals or a small group of friends.

As a member of The Reserve, you and your friends may be entitled to enjoy special entitlements or other benefits such as:

• One-on-one concierge service to help you prepare the optimal experience
• Priority scheduling of treatments and other activities while visiting Seoul
• A customised gift tailored to your individual preferences

To find out more about the Maxuri beauty package or to request a personal consultation, click here to visit them online or email The Reserve at member@thereserve-asia.com for a personal introduction.

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16/F Chao's Building  |  143-145 Bonham Strand  |  Sheung Wan  |  Hong Kong
T: +852 33620 3157  |  F: +852 3753 1811  |  thereserve@infonation-asia.com  |  Data Policy  

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