Subtle or dramatic, they all want dewy skin

A pedestrian walks past an advertisement for plastic surgery clinic at a subway station in Seoul on March 26, 2014.
A pedestrian walks past an advertisement for plastic surgery clinic at a subway station in Seoul on March 26, 2014. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL • Some want to look like Korean beauties Kim Tae Hee and Song Hye Kyo while others prefer China's Fan Bingbing and Angelababy. 

South Korea's plastic surgeons attract patients from various parts of Asia. While all hope to improve on their looks, their notion of what is beautiful can differ.

Chinese nationals, for instance, are not shy about wanting more dramatic changes, be it bigger eyes, higher nose bridges or a sharply slimmed jawline, according to industry experts here. 

"They want it to look obvious so it stands out more when they pose for photos," said Ms Daphne Wu from Medical Korea Services, a medical tourism consultancy firm. They also tend to covet what they see on Chinese celebrities, like Fan's well-defined double eyelids. 

While South Koreans like their noses small and perky, the Chinese tend to ask for more prominent ones, said Dr Choi Soon Woo of Seoul's View Plastic Surgery.

Generally, Koreans, as well as patients from Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and other South-east Asian countries, ask for a more natural and subtle outcome, "as if they didn't have surgery", said Dr Choi. 

Whatever their nationality, all desire the smooth, dewy complexions that Korean celebrities are famous for. That look, which has been compared to the surface of peeled hard-boiled eggs, is usually rendered by hydration injections, and lasts three to six months.

To avoid post-surgery unhappiness because of different perceptions of beauty, Dr Choi stressed the importance of in-depth consulting sessions with foreign patients.

"Our aim is not to make a perfect face, but to heal the inferiority complex they have over a certain part of their face and give them confidence to face the world," he said.

Chang May Choon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2015, with the headline 'Subtle or dramatic, they all want dewy skin'. Print Edition | Subscribe