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Rich Seoulites spark anti-aging boom

Sept 04,2003
The fountain of youth may be a myth, but that hasn’t stopped the nation’s aging rich from searching for it in Gangnam.
“Youth clinics” and anti-aging treatments have become the latest trend in Seoul’s wealthy southern district, with some patients paying huge sums to enhance their looks.
One 52-year-old housewife ― who has always thought she looked older than her age ― has been visiting a Gangnam anti-aging clinic to get hormone shots.
She visits five times a week at a cost of 3 million won ($2,500) a month. Money doesn’t matter as long as I can look young again,” she said.
In Cheongdam-dong, one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Gangnam, a new anti-aging clinic opens every other week. There are 20 such clinics in the area.
“The number of anti-aging clinics has jumped since the end of last year,” a dermatologist in the district said ― though he warned the fad could just as quickly fade. “I watched two such clinics go bankrupt two years ago.”
Still, that hasn’t stopped the new wave of medical centers from going to extraordinary lengths to extract money ― if not the ravages of time ― out of their clients.
One clinic in Cheongdam-dong, which opened in July, has signed up 30 patients who have each paid 100 million won just to subscribe. A doctor at the clinic said the total number of clients would be limited to 50.
Another clinic in the district said it treated its clients with injections from newborn babies’ placentas, which it claimed could restore aged skin.
One injection, according to the clinic, costs millions of won.
Medical experts, however, have warned against the side effects. They said the frequent injection of hormones might cause blood sugar levels to rise, headaches, hair loss or emotional changes. Critics also claim anti-aging physicians overcharge their clients, as the actual cost of a hormone injection is less than 200,000 won.
“The best policy to prevent aging is quit smoking and drinking,” said Lee Seung-nam, a doctor who runs an anti-aging clinic in Gangnam.


by Lee Chul-jae


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