I have travelled to Seoul 3 times now, in 7 months! My most recent one was only a week ago. Why do I love this particular city? It is a very vibrant city, very welcoming and polite people, very affordable for a tourist, and of course has the best Kimchi in the world. Apart from its multiple health benefits, Kimchi is also my most favourite condiment for all Korean cuisine!
Incidentally, how I feel about Kimchi mirrors my appetite for Korean anti-aging, rejuvenation and beautification procedures. This is what has kept me coming back to this world class aesthetic destination.
I am always amazed at how Korean doctors have such extensive repertoire of treatments for both surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures. Korean doctors remain at the forefront of such sought-after treatments due to its popularity among Koreans and surrounding neighbours like China, Japan and SE Asia. Physicians are able to practise in a very conducive and less restrictive environment. While our local regulating bodies like Health Canada and the College of Physicians and Surgeons ensure safety and efficacy of practitioners, highly restrictive policies can often stymie innovation and creativity.
One clear example of this is thread lifting procedure. It is popular and practiced world-wide and is FDA approved as well. Thread lifting has been around for a couple of decades but in recent years the Koreans have refined it and made it very easy and safe to use. Apart from its efficacy, it is also deemed as safer than hyaluronic acid fillers that is often used in Canada for volumizing and lifting. I have gone multiple times to Korea for such training in anticipation of Health Canada approval. We are all hoping that this will get clearance soon!
There are also very exciting things done with fat harvesting and fat transfer for both aesthetic and therapeutic uses. In particular there are stem cell harvesting from fat cells that is being used with very promising outcomes worldwide. Anecdotally I witnessed an IV therapy of stem cell harvested from adipose tissue for patients suffering from MS and another with chronic fatigue and low libido. They were there for their second infusion in a year and wanted a repeat treatment because they experienced very good results with it. This is in no way an evidence-based study by me and in Canada this remains a prohibited area of practice.
The machines and devices available and often made in Korea for cosmetic purposes are also phenomenal. They are quite inexpensive for practitioners to acquire and use, which explains why the cost of getting treatments in Korea is more affordable than getting the same treatment in Vancouver! For example, there is a Korean high intensity focused ultrasound device for face and body tightening and contouring that is as effective as Ultherapy and Thermage but is also painless! I am not sure how this can translate to more accessibility and affordability for Canadians locally, perhaps this is something we can try to improve on.
Last but not least, I am just amazed at the number of cosmetic clinics I can find in Seoul, as well as the very visible advertising that I find everywhere! Going up and down a subway escalator is a real treat for the eyes! There are about 10M people in Seoul (20% of the population) but there are literally more than 500 cosmetic clinics in Gangnam District alone (a highly affluent area of Seoul). The vibrancy and energetic vibes I get from just walking and looking at these billboards and clinic signage is also felt when I attend these Korean master courses. Doctors here are world experts in their chosen field and it is so easy to be swept away by their vigour, enthusiasm and passion for the field they have excelled in and continue to do so. Apart from investing in this transfer of expertise, I also hope to inoculate our local players with the same infective enthusiasm for this very exciting and fast evolving field of cosmetic medicine. More than 20 years ago we were pioneers in using Botox for softening wrinkles, let’s not get complacent and get left behind on the world stage of cosmetic medicine.