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More Chinese head for S Korea for plastic surgery

2012-01-18 13:28 Shanghai Daily     Web Editor: Zang Kejia comment

A growing number of Chinese are heading to South Korea for medical procedures, mostly for plastic surgery, according to the Yonhap news agency.

Citing a report from the South Korean Embassy in Beijing, the agency said 1,073 medical tourist visas were issued to Chinese in 2011, up 386 percent from 220 in the previous year.

South Korea introduced the medical tourist visas in mid-2009 after its hospitals and medical institutes asked the government to simplify the visa process. Yonhap cited the short distance between the two countries and the high-quality medical care available in South Korea, especially its capability on plastic surgery, as the big draw to the Chinese.

An industry insider in Shanghai also noted that while the cost of plastic surgery has been rising in China, it has held firm in South Korea. Adding to the allure, the appreciation of the yuan against South Korea's won makes prices in Korea cheaper for Chinese people.

"The price of plastic surgery in South Korea didn't change in the past five years, while domestic price has risen by at least 20 to 30 percent in recent years," said Liu Chunlong of the Shanghai Art Plastic and Cosmetic Hospital.

He said prices for comprehensive surgeries like facial restructuring is similar between South Korea and China, which retains a price advantage only on small operations like double-eyelid surgery.

"Chinese plastic surgeons' capability has caught up with their South Korean peers, but our doctors' professionalism and aesthetics still lag behind," he said, adding that many South Korean surgeons have learned art and painting and do more study on the patient for a better surgical plan. "Their surgical procedure is also more elegant."

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