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Plastic surgeons call for restriction of ads on surgery

Posted November. 07, 2014 05:17,   


When riding subway train or bus, people see advertisements with images comparing the appearance "before and after." The images are pictures of the same person before and after taking plastic surgery. Perhaps because the photos are modified with software, they make people to think that “I wish to become pretty like that as well.”

Advertisements on cosmetic surgery have increased significantly since deregulation in 2009. Plastic surgeons recently said, “Excessive issuing of advertisements on plastic surgery brings about reckless surgeries and medical accidents,” arguing that “advertising should be restricted,” a move that is drawing keen attention.

Korea is a "Kingdom of plastic surgery." Many foreign tourists visit Korea to take plastic surgery because the country boasts the top-rated plastic surgery skills in the world. Amid intensifying competition, all different illegal acts and irregularities are rampant here. Best examples include surgery by a proxy doctor, in which counseling is conducted by a famed plastic surgeon but actual surgery is done by another doctor, and overuse of anesthetic to prevent the patient from learning about such practice. In other cases, a non-specialist doctor who did not major in plastic surgery conducts surgery leads surgery, or brokers in China pocket 90 percent of sales from plastic surgery. As the situation is so chaotic, foreign media outlets have even carried special reports on plastic surgery accidents in Korea.

The Korea Plastic Surgeons’ Association proposed a number of measures to correct irregularities in the plastic surgery industry at recent parliamentary inspection of the government. It suggested regulation of advertising on plastic surgery, and introduction of a surgery system based on doctors’ real names to prevent surgical operations conducted by substitute doctors. As for foreign patients, it proposed prevention of tax evasion and brokers’ illegal acts through return of excise tax. As the government has not taken any measure even after plastic surgeons voluntarily disclosed corruptions by themselves in April this year, the association made appeal to the National Assembly and the presidential office recently.

The Health and Welfare Ministry has not taken any countermeasure whatsoever for unknown reason. The ministry strongly cracked down on rebate payment to doctors in the pharmaceutical sector in the past, but is turning a blind eye to problems in the plastic surgery sector. Even through Seoul’s Gangnam Police Station caught illegal brokers and lending of loans for plastic surgery, and demanded the ministry to impose administrative measure last year, the ministry has yet to take measures such as suspension of business license, and is only dragging its feet. Analysts say that the ministry does so because it fears that taking such a measure would hamper the government’s push to galvanize medial tourism in Korea. However, establishing transparent and fair order in the industry is necessary to promote the development of the medical sector as well. If current problems are left unchecked and patients thus lose trust in plastic surgery, everyone is doomed to fail collectively.