Went to the Plastic Surgery Capital of the World…

…Seoul, Korea!

Sorry for the long hiatus. I was on vacation.

I wasn’t just goofing off, though, mind you.

(Though Taylor Lautner can goof off as much as he wants. We’ll all just sit here and stare.)

I was looking out for signs of plastic surgery since, as pointed out by the title of this post, Seoul is the plastic surgery capital of the world…It was pretty obvious because, well…

There were literally advertisements everywhere: before and after pics of plastic surgery patients at various clinics, boasting slogans like, “Everyone has done it except you.”

I took pictures of some of the drastic ones because, well, it’s interesting. There’s a whole culture revolving around plastic surgery in Korea. People get it as birthday gifts or graduation presents. 1 in 5 women in Seoul has gotten plastic surgery (though many procedures are limited to minor tweaks like the double-eyelid surgery). The double eyelid surgery, in turn, is viewed as many Americans view ear piercings.

In a country where beauty lands you jobs and gives you a competitive edge, plastic surgery is an essential part of many Koreans’ lives.

Look at these pics…

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Crazy, right?

Though I have nothing against plastic surgery, there’s one thing with this whole phenomenon that really bothers me.

Take a look at all the “after” photos.

Big, round eyes. Tall, small, narrow nose. White skin. Smooth jawline and sharp chin. Small face.

Don’t all the girls look kinda…similar? I think plastic surgery can definitely be used to enhance your features, but in some cases, it seems to be turning many young girls into clones.

Pretty clones, I guess. But they’re still clones.

It doesn’t have to be this way, but it seems like everyone wants to look a certain way. These features have come to represent what it means to be beautiful in Korea. Most of the popular K-Pop stars and K-drama actors and actresses tend to have similar features, and it’s no wonder.

Many of them are getting plastic surgery in similar ways (why, some even have the same plastic surgeon!), thus producing almost identical faces. Of course, there are differences from face to face, but the overall appearance is strikingly similar.

Sure, many countries have this problem, a standard of beauty that everyone strives to fulfill. In other countries, however, I feel like the problem isn’t so severe. Or, at least, not in America. In America, there are various types of looks that one would consider beautiful.

There is the sexy-puffy-lips-sultry-eyes look of Angelina Jolie, or the girl-next-door look of Jennifer Aniston and Blake Lively. There is the hourglass figure of Sofia Vergara, the fuller figures of stars like Queen Latifah and Kim Kardashian,  and the twiggy, boyish bodies of actresses like Nicole Kidman and Kate Hudson.

In Korea, the standard of beauty seems much narrower and much more marginalized.

With such high plastic surgery rates within the Seoul population, people will definitely start to look similar.

And no, I’m not being racist. Koreans do not “all look alike” naturally, but if they get plastic surgery to look like a K-Pop star or an actress or one of those ads in the subway stations, they’re certainly bound to.

I support plastic surgery, but when people end up looking like clones, it saddens me.

It’s one thing to make yourself look better. It’s another thing entirely to change your face so completely that you look nothing like yourself and have transformed into an Asian barbie doll.

After all, if we are all beautiful, then what’s the point of being beautiful in the first place?

Clone-like Miss Korea 2013 Contestants (from KoreaBang.com)

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Nose Infections, Oh My!

At the clinic the other day, one of the patients came in with a, drum roll please…

NOSE INFECTION!

Yeah, that’s not that exciting. In fact, it sounds really unfortunate.

Correction: It was really unfortunate.

When a patient comes in for rhinoplasty or some other nose surgery, there’s always that tiny risk of infection. If the patient doesn’t carry through with the proper, post-op treatment, then this is certainly a possibility.

Not very fun, but very possible.

I tried to remember everything that was happening…

…but my facts may not be 100% accurate. I apologize in advance.

Anyways! The patient which came in with the nose infection had amazing results but was seriously miserable. She had had to inject a few IV’s prior to coming in with a different doctor and was positively exhausted by the time of her check-up.

Thankfully, Dr. Lee already had an action plan as to how to treat the infection. First, he had to inject salt water into her body to open up the blood vessels, etc. He then numbed several key areas of her face and nose and irrigated the infected area with a beneficial, antibiotic solution. (Or was it antibiotic? Forgive me, I’m only an intern.)

Unfortunately, though he had stuffed some cotton in the back of her nose to prevent the solution from going down her throat, some of it did escape. The medical team was well-prepared and had her gurgle some water to help with the burning. She was fine in no time.

This is kind of random, but…honestly, I can’t think of a better, more personal group of medical professionals. The people at Enhance Medical Center keep on amazing me with how much they actually get to know and interact with their patients.

Seriously. I’m not just saying that. It’s not like I’m being paid to say that or anything…

But seriously. I actually am not getting paid. They don’t even know about this blog yet.

Have a happy Memorial Day weekend everybody!

Crazy Medical Mysteries

Since the clinic is closed this weekend, I’ll post some crazy stuff instead.

Everyone’s heard of medical mysteries– medical cases which have no known scientific explanation. Cases which, frankly, almost seem to come from some other world.

Watch these videos– they’ll blow your mind away.

The boy who can’t eat food…

 

The girl who hasn’t aged…

 

After having a stroke, these people have been turned into modern-day Picasso’s!

 

Pretty strange and gruesome…But interesting, surprisingly! What does that say about me?!

More Junk Food For the Brain

Until I intern next…more junk food to rot your brain!

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Well, hey, my arm hurts, too, but I’M not complaining. Sissy.

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If I were that doctor…

Yeah, that would be me.

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Ah. The intricacies of the modern world.

What’s the Big Deal About Plastic Surgery?

To clear any confusion beforehand, this blog post is neither a promotion of plastic surgery, nor a rejection of it, but a defense of those who choose to get it done.

I’ve neglected this blog for too long. It’s just that nothing new has happened lately! But when summer comes…

I’ll be able to sit in on a surgery! SO excited for that.

Until then, though, I thought I’d write about something that, as Americans, always seems to bug us: the ethics of plastic surgery.

Whenever I tell people that I intern at a plastic surgery clinic, they always get extremely uncomfortable. They stare at me, and their expression clearly says, “I am totally judging you right now.”

Huh? After the umpteenth time, it’s gotten extremely irritating. What’s the big deal about plastic surgery? What’s with the stigma? To me, plastic surgery is a personal decision, something everyone has a right to do.

I mean, I myself am not completely comfortable with getting it done, but if other people want to go for it, why not?

After a bit of thinking and research, I came to this conclusion.

People shy away from plastic surgery because they:

1) See it as “fake” and “unnatural.”

2) Have religious reasons (to not change the body that God created).

3) Are frightened of the procedure itself.

4) Are scared of any potentially bad results.

5) Can’t afford it.

6) Are afraid of being judged by society.

I feel that the first and last are the most common. They are also the ones which annoy me the most.

I respect the opinions of those who seriously do not want to get surgery. That’s completely fine. It’s not like I’m going to hunt them down with a giant syringe and force them into plastic surgery.

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What I absolutely cringe at, though, is when people try to force their stigmas and tabboos down other people’s throats. The disgust and horror and “Ew! Why would you get plastic surgery?That’s what I cannot tolerate.

When people say, “Oh, but plastic surgery is shallow and fake” I find it highly hypocritical. Yes, plastic surgery is about altering our appearance, but don’t we do this everyday?

We do our makeup to look prettier. We put on mascara and eyeliner to make our eyes bigger. We use wrinkle creams to get rid of wrinkles unnaturally. We take diet pills to get rid of weight unnaturally. We wear braces to force our teeth to become straight, and when that doesn’t work, we use surgery.

All of this is artificial and can certainly be considered “fake.”

No matter what others say, we live in a world where, sadly, looks do matter. They say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but the depressing truth is, most people do. And we respond to this.

We alter our appearances constantly to impress a highly critical and judgmental world.

Those who get plastic surgery are also altering their appearances. It’s definitely more permanent, but it works on exactly the same context: become more attractive.

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Unless the person critiquing plastic surgery has never worried about their appearance, has never cared how their hair or teeth or clothes looked, and has never truly cared about beauty in any degree, does he or she really have a right to criticize plastic surgery patients?

They are doing exactly what you do everyday except on a more permanent level.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, it really isn’t fair to deprive unattractive people of the opportunity to be attractive. Life is unfair. Some are blessed with beauty, and some are not, but why can’t those who were not remedy this? Why can beautiful people continue to reap the benefits of their attractiveness (and it is useless to pretend that being beautiful does not have its own pluses), while those who are not must continue to be this way?

“Nuh uh. You will remain ugly, girlfriend.”

People who get plastic surgery often do it to feel more confident about themselves. If fixing uneven eyes or plumping your lips or getting those high cheekbones you’ve always coveted will make make you feel more beautiful, more confident, and stronger as a person… then why not?

Who are we to judge people for only wanting to be prettier? Something that we do everyday? Who are we to deprive people of self-confidence when we don’t even know their story, what they’ve suffered and how they feel?

Plastic surgery is a choice that people shouldn’t be judged for. It’s their life, their face, and their option. If you don’t want to go through with it, that’s perfect! Do whatever you want….but don’t try to shame others because they chose a different route.

This topic is a complex one, but in the end, it all boils down to the same thing: we are all humans, and beauty, no matter how much we may deny it, plays an irrefutable role in our world.

Why can’t we stop judging each other and just respect each other for once?

Motivational speech = Done

Two words: Boob Job.

God, I haven’t posted in two weeks!

Two. Weeks.

I was crazy busy, since certain high school teachers like to cram exams before spring break starts. Oof. At least I’m finally on break!

Now, back to business. Last week was actually really cool. I entered the clinic and shadowed a few botox treatments, but things didn’t really get interesting until the very end.

A woman came in who had just recently gotten a boob job.

Boob jobs are very common here in ‘Murica. In fact, they’re the second most common type of plastic surgery, coming in at over 300,000 surgeries a year. That’s crazy.

In Asian countries, boob jobs aren’t as common, but they still occur in significant numbers.

I’d never really seen the aftermath of a fresh boob job. I guess I thought it would be a lot cleaner than the other procedures– maybe with some small stitches, all neatly sewn in and complete.

Well.

It was a lot messier than that. The chest was bound tightly, and a couple drains were attached, collecting blood. The patient was in a little pain, too, but I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything else since  she kind of just had surgery.

Dr. Lee was calm and professional throughout the check-up, which was a good thing because I wasn’t exactly calm and professional.

I still have to get used to the immediate aftermath of surgery, or risk being mistaken for a deer in headlights for the rest of my life.

Anyways, despite the messiness, the procedure actually produced great results. Dr. Lee checked up on the condition of the breasts, removed the drainage bags, made sure they were positioned and were developing correctly, and the check-up was complete.

Unfortunately, the patient could hardly move her arms! I helped her get re-dressed and she left the clinic all intact. Woo-hoo! Point one for Maddi.

It’s great how much I’m learning from this internship. I seriously can’t wait until I can watch an actual surgery live in action.

You know, as long as I don’t throw up.

Or almost faint.

Like last time.

Well, hey, I’m getting there! No nausea or sickness from seeing the blood this time. The desensitization must be beginning.

I deserve a special sticker.

Lipo, Ultrasounds, and Tiny Waists

Another week, another day at the clinic!

It wasn’t as busy today, but there were a lot of interesting cases.

One woman who recently had liposuction came into the clinic. She had fat removed around her waist and thighs, but the results were crazy. Seriously. When she showed us her waist, I was, like:

WHAT. It was pretty crazy. In this case, the patient was very fit, but couldn’t get rid of the fat on her stomach no matter how much she worked out. This is probably the ideal situation for someone to get lipo. I think there’s a common misconception that you should get lipo just to lose weight. But, seriously, if you can lose weight without lipo, go on a diet. Defeat the lure of the cookies.

Anyways! That same woman was here to also get an ultrasound.

I know what you’re thinking.

But, um, no. She wasn’t pregnant! Considering she just got lipo, you know… That would be bad. The ultrasound was actually to get rid of any nodules that form after liposuction– like hard lumps that form under the skin.

She also got this laser treatment for her skin. Basically, a lot of people come in to get laser treatment– even if their skin isn’t bad. It’s to stimulate collagen production and make their skin look young for a longer time.  Not that Asians really age or anything,

I mean, seriously:

That 60-year old grandmother’s such a gangster, yo.

Hope I can see more interesting cases next week. Until then, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! May the leprechauns have mercy on your soul.

Is it Really So Wrong to Get Botox?

I finally got to intern again this Saturday!

I manned the front desk  for about half an hour, and I must say, I now have a newfound respect for all front-desk-workers around the world.

That stuff is STRESSFUL. Fun, but stressful.

Overall, it was mainly a pretty slow day. There were quite a few new patients coming in for consultations, several checkups, and a few botox/filler appointments.

One botox patient in particular was especially interesting. She mentioned how her daughter disapproved of her coming here. Tentatively, she asked me, “But I feel so much more confident after I come here. That’s not bad, is it?”

 

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I’m not ashamed to admit that I completely approved of her choice. Seriously, if I were in my sixties and a couple syringes being poked into my skin could make me look a decade younger, I would do it in a heartbeat. And I told her this.

In my opinion, this woman and thousands of others like her should not feel embarrassed to want to look younger.

As young people, I don’t think that many of us can even begin to understand their situation. To us, aging seems so far away. A wrinkle in time (no pun intended). How can we, who have never developed a wrinkle or seen our eyes droop, judge them in their pursuit to reclaim what was once theirs?

Everyone wants to feel pretty. Is it so wrong to do something about it?

No. Or, at least, not in my own mind.

I’ll probably devote an entire post to this whole stigma surrounding plastic surgery, so…expect more of that fun stuff later! Until then, enjoy the weekend and daylight savings!

Oof. Spring forward. Less sleep, and the worst time of the year (pun intended).

Plastic Surgery, Blogs, and Hopping, Blonde Princesses

When I landed my first ever internship at a plastic surgery clinic a few weeks ago, blogging was the last thing I had on my mind.

Blogging is so…I don’t know. It’s formidable, definitely.

I tried blogging a few times before, but I got so lazy and bored that they ended up as giant, weird blobs of nothingness. You know your blog is dead when you start comparing dancing cats to Michael Jackson.

I’m not trying to be funny. I actually did that.

What got me back here…writing to a possibly nonexistent audience (go me!)…was the internship that I first landed in December.

I’ve always wanted to be a doctor. I mean, I still have the second grade poster which says “I want to bee a doctor!” with a picture of me, dressed in a doctor’s costume, awkwardly cradling a bear. I jammed plastic syringes into my poor brother’s arms for five years (child abuse? I think so.) until my doctor’s kit was donated. Seriously, I had a doctor’s kit. That was some pretty legit stuff.

When I was generously accepted as an intern at a family friend’s plastic surgery clinic, this was what went on in my head between me and my conscience:

…Which quickly turned into this:

I was thrilled! And rightly so. I’d been searching around for an internship for months, but most places did not start to accept interns until they were at least 16. Add to that the fact that I could pass for a 12-year-old… and you have the situation I was in.

Hardly anyone would accept a 15-year-old girl with nothing to claim but a passion for medicine.  I was lucky, and I knew it.

The experience at the clinic in Beverly Hills has been amazing so far, and Dr. Lee and his staff have all been very friendly and welcoming.

So, here I am, writing this two months later. I’ve been interning every Saturday since early December, and Dr. Lee recently recommended that I start a blog to record my experience.

Whew. Daunting, but I think it’ll be totally worth it. So, here it goes. May this blog see every triumph and every failure, every mischance and every breathtaking wonder that I encounter along the way. Here’s to a brand new year and a brand new internship!