For almost a year now, we have been wearing face masks as we go about our daily tasks. For those of us in the West, we look in bewilderment at the mask phenomena. Suddenly we all resemble those Asian tourists we use to watch with curiosity. Now ‘they' are ‘us'.
So what has our use of masks to do with cosmetic surgery? Quite a lot in fact. If you always wanted to get a nose job this would be a great time to do it before the Covid-19 vaccines kick in and the masks start coming off. Bear in mind there will be bruises and swelling from the surgery but since we’ll all be wearing masks that should help,
This attitude is fuelling the already booming cosmetic surgery markets around the world, especially in South Korea – the epicentre of aesthetic surgery.
The Seoul cosmetic surgery industry is estimated to be worth about $10.7 billion in 2020, up 9.2 per cent year-on-year, and is expected to hover around $11.8 billion this year, according to Gangnam Unni, the country’s largest online cosmetic surgery platform.
Cosmetic surgeons say patients are interested in all parts of the face: Those that can be easily hidden under masks, such as the nose and lips, as well as those that face coverings don’t conceal, which some consider the criteria of beauty in the coronavirus era.
“Both surgical and non-surgical inquiries about eyes, eyebrows, nose bridge and foreheads – the only visible parts – certainly increased,” said Park Cheol-woo, a surgeon at WooAhIn Plastic Surgery Clinic and a well-known figure in the Seoul cosmetic surgery sector.
Apparently, lots of people spent their Government stimulus payments on cosmetic surgery procedures which have helped boost revenue for Surgeon Shin Sang-ho, who operates Krismas Plastic Surgery Clinic in the centre of Gangnam district. He has a great take on the subject. “I felt like it’s sort of revenge spending. I’ve sensed that customers were expressing their pent-up emotions (from the coronavirus) by getting cosmetic procedures,”
Government data showed that of 14.2 trillion won government cash handouts, 10.6 per cent was used in hospitals and pharmacies, the third-largest segment by classification behind supermarkets and restaurants The details of hospital types were not disclosed but with Seoul's love of plastic surgery, I am sure we can guess the answer.
Gangnam Unni data showed its users surged 63 per cent from a year earlier to about 2.6 million last year. They requested 1 million counselling sessions, double the amount from a year earlier.
As we know, cosmetic surgery tourism really dried up in 2020 so the Seoul clinic sector embraced a more local and regional focus.
But the third wave of coronavirus at home remains a concern as the country reports record-breaking daily cases. As one local clinician put it “We’ve seen growing numbers of cancellations in consultation appointments recently as people refrain more from going outside… especially customers from the suburbs mostly postponed their surgeries to 2021,”
Sophie is a writer based in London and contributes to many sites about LGBT issues and self image.