Masks, remote work boost appeal of plastic surgery

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Masks, remote work boost appeal of plastic surgery

A sign on the door says not to enter without a mask at a plastic surgery clinic in Gangnam District, southern Seoul. [PYUN GWANG-HYUN]

A sign on the door says not to enter without a mask at a plastic surgery clinic in Gangnam District, southern Seoul. [PYUN GWANG-HYUN]

If there’s a silver lining to the social obligation to wear a mask while out in public, the plastic surgery industry may have found it.
A 29-year-old office worker, who gave her name as “Ms. A,” in March visited a plastic surgery clinic famous for the so-called "petit plastic surgery" in Gangnam, southern Seoul. Despite the ongoing fears surrounding the highly contagious coronavirus, she said the clinic was full of mask-clad clients waiting for their appointments.
"I came to get nose-filler injections," she said. "After injections, the area of injection swells, and the bruise lasts about a week, but since I am wearing a mask everyday and working from home, swelling and bruising don’t matter much."
While many businesses that require person-to-person contact have taken a hit following the outbreak of the coronavirus, plastic surgeons say they’ve been helped by a steady stream of customers who feel more comfortable knowing they can conceal the temporary wounds with a mask or while telecommuting.  
"The majority of visitors coming in for plastic surgery consultations are office workers who are working from home and college students who are not going to school but taking online courses," said a specialist who has run a plastic surgery clinic for more than a decade in Gangnam.
Others in the field say business has actually increased, with the social distancing period viewed as ideal for weathering the long recovery period associated with plastic surgeries.
"April used to be the off-season for the plastic surgery industry, but some popular clinics are getting more reservations than usual," an official from the Korean Association of Plastic Surgeons said. "A worker who works from home came to get plastic surgery with a long recovery period … I thought sales would drop significantly in the aftermath of the new coronavirus, but it’s quite the opposite."
"Every plastic surgery clinic I visited was packed,” said a 54-year-old middle school teacher who had double eyelid surgery in February. "At the time, the postponement of the opening of schools was under discussion … I was going to have ptosis correction to raise my droopy upper eyelids, but I also received double eyelids and eye-lifting surgery as well."
She added, “Everyone wears a mask these days, so I didn’t have to worry about looking strange or suspicious with a mask and a hat on.”  
Other plastic surgery clinics, concerned about falling sales, have been holding sales events. A plastic surgery clinic in Mapo District, western Seoul, offered a discount under the slogan "Special Event to Overcome Covid-19" for a month in March. The price of surgical services was lowered by about 30 percent.
"When the first few clinics started to close in fear of the spread of the coronavirus, every remaining clinic started discount events," said a consultant in a plastic surgery clinic in Apgujeong-dong, southern Seoul. "Our clinic even provided a half-price discount for price competition.”  
The number of daily users of Zocdoc, an online plastic surgery information platform, increased from 11,612 in January to 13,653 in March.
"Despite the increased number of Korean patients, the total number of patients is still less than before because of the decreased number of foreigners," said a 26-year-old consultant in charge of Chinese customers at a Gangnam plastic surgery clinic. "Consultants for Koreans are busier than usual, but consultants for foreign patients have no reservations," he said. "Only when foreign customers come back will sales fully recover."

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