Documentary following Annie Price, who was badly burnt in a fire as a baby, as she travels to South Korea to explore a culture where plastic surgery is common.
Browse content similar to Plastic Surgery Capital of the World. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
This programme contains some scenes which some viewers may find upsetting and some strong language
I'm Annie Price, and I've lived my whole life with burn scars.
I've had many operations on my face, but all were for medical necessity.
-Where would you do that? Across the bridge?
Now I'm older and more confident,
I'm thinking about having my nose done, but just for looks.
So, short nose can be released in some degree.
I'm in Seoul, South Korea.
This is a city where 60% of people in their 20s
have had plastic surgery.
Hi, are you OK?
I want to find out what some of the best plastic surgeons in the world
would recommend for me.
WHISPERING: This lady is having her nose done.
This could literally be me on here.
All in the name of beauty.
I was burnt in a caravan fire when I was about three or four weeks old.
I had third-degree burns on my whole face, my head,
both my hands and my arm.
So, I had splints on my hands because my hands didn't move.
They didn't think I'd write, so I'm really lucky that I can.
I've always had to moisturise a lot,
and my mum really had to do all the heavy, heavy work,
and she had to moisturise and bend the fingers around every single day,
twice a day.
Doing it on a child was quite painful, so I was crying,
so it must have been horrible for her.
So, the surgery I have had done,
I've obviously had the surgery that saved my life,
and all of the skin grafts that...
..obviously allowed me to move my face at all.
My mum helped me make most of those decisions because I was quite young.
You know, she sort of had the conversation with the doctors,
you know, "Can we make Annie look...?"
I'm not really supposed to use this word, but "normal".
And they said, you know, "No."
I've looked at doing the top of my nose.
I would like to probably try the tip of my nose,
but we'll see, we'll see.
-Hello, did I see you downstairs?
-How are you doing?
No, I don't think so. How are you doing?
As a child I had more than a dozen operations on my face.
Most of them were performed by reconstructive surgeon
Mr David Gault.
I haven't seen him for more than 15 years.
-And how is life?
I can't complain, I'm very happy.
How has it all been? Have you had lots of operations recently?
Well, I haven't had anything for about, let me think...
..about 10 or 12 years.
The last one that we did together was the eye,
and then I've just recently had...
..um, like, zigzag cuts in my nose because that was really webbed.
Oh, right. Yes, that's a good plan.
Yeah, and I've just started doing loads of laser work.
You know the six kind of needles, like...
-Yeah, lots of little penetrating things.
-Yes, that one.
I've had that probably about four or five times.
-And you like that?
-I love that.
-Because your face is looking good.
It feels so good.
I've got some slides here...
..of an operation we did together.
Oh, wow, there's loads of them.
And that's a picture of you when you were two.
Oh, look at my little face!
Oh, look at my little Jackson 5 afro!
I've got a massive head.
I don't need to see that, now I'm about to have a baby!
That's your ear,
all pulled forward and sticking out, and shaped like a little cup.
God, it was so far out.
-Look at me, little Dumbo.
-And you can see...
..we flattened it out, put that fold in, and moved it back a long way.
-That looks so good.
-That's how it ended up.
Such a neat ear.
Do you still look at that now and think,
"Yeah, I'm chuffed with that"?
-That's why you're in my collection.
-Oh, am I in the Hall of Fame?
People who have worked.
Of course, no-one is going to show a bad testimonial, are they?
I'm thinking of having my nose done,
just dropping the tip down a little bit.
What do you think?
If you really want it, do it, do it safely as you can,
-but as far as need goes, you don't need surgery.
What is it about you that's prompted you to think of further refinements?
I think I'm just happier in the way that I didn't use surgery at all,
kind of ignored it for about 12 years,
and since getting back into it,
I have actually felt physically better,
so literally, from having the nose done,
I didn't realise how much I was turning my head to look at things.
I can see from all angles, which sounds ridiculous to say,
but, yeah, it's nice, and my face feels a lot freer.
See, it's not just the shape thing then, is it?
-It's an actual vision thing.
First of all, don't make up your mind in a hurry.
Always take the advice of the people near you that you trust.
Yeah. You're completely right.
I live with cats Bobby and Batman, and my fiance Sam,
just outside London.
We've been together for five years and are expecting our first baby.
So is this... Are you actually packing then?
Yeah, of course I'm packing.
These are really comfy. How cute are these?
-But, I bought them in a size six, and I'm like a four.
Because everyone kept saying, "You're pregnant,
"your feet are going to swell." I was like, "I want comfort".
You could wear your shoes inside the shoes.
How do you feel about me having, like, another nose surgery.
I literally don't care.
Care a little bit. How about that?
-That's how I feel.
-You need to care. Care a little bit.
No, I mainly care about your recovery.
Like, are you going to be OK afterwards?
So, you're saying you don't care because you love me so much that you
think I am beautiful as I am, is that what you meant to say?
I think if I cared that much about if you had a nose or not,
-we wouldn't be getting married in a few months' time.
If you want to get a nose, that's fine.
But what if I have it done and I look...it looks worse?
Well, it's your decision what you do with your own nose.
Yeah, you're right. Thanks.
-It'd be nice to have a nose.
-It's annoying to have no nose.
Yeah, it'd be nicer to have a nose for you.
Not that there is no nose, just a little nose.
It looks a country mile better than it did.
I'm also scared that I'm going to get there and they're going to say,
"Oh, how have you lived like this?
"Why haven't you done all this sooner?"
-They probably will.
-I think they will.
I think they'll be like,
"Really? The nose? Is that all we're going to go for?
"I think we should do this, this, this and this."
-How are you, my dear?
-I'm really good, how are you?
-Oh, I'm fine, thank you. Look at this!
My mum, Maggie, adopted me when I was six.
She's always brought me up to be comfortable with how I look.
I'm not sure why you want to have surgery now, I'm not sure...
Why, what's brought it up now, all these years later?
I think I feel more comfortable,
a lot more confident with how everything is.
I'm having a baby now, and life's going to get more hectic.
I'd rather do it sooner than later because I don't want my children
-to be like, "Oh, Mum's changed."
-I don't see...
-I don't think...
-I know it wouldn't be a big thing.
I won't change that much, but I don't want it to be
something they have to deal with.
When you were little, there was a lot of stuff
that the surgeons could have done,
but I didn't want you to have to grow up from a very young age,
keep thinking, "I've got to have my face look like everybody else's,
"or I can't go out."
I would be uneasy
if you wanted to keep having little bits and pieces done.
Although it's not my decision.
Is your decision. It's not my decision at all,
I'm just saying, as a mother, how it would make me feel.
-It's not my decision at all,
I'd support you whatever you did,
but we don't always have to like our offspring's decisions.
No. Unfortunately not!
In a kind way.
Not everything's for comfort,
some of the things I'd like to do is just for look,
but I don't think that's a bad thing.
I don't think it'd impact my happiness,
I don't think I'm going to be a better person if I have it,
I just think I might feel and look better.
They're the only two reasons you should have the surgery.
-That's a good point, yeah.
-I think I'm the ideal candidate.
Yeah, that's a really good point.
-You know what I mean?
-Yes. I just want to make sure that you're
comfortable and that you're not going to do things that are going to
set you on a path to being unhappy.
She's my baby, you know, my youngest child.
-No, no, no!
Sorry, Mum, I think I am.
You're my favourite adopted child,
or you're my favourites youngest daughter.
-Diplomatic, this one.
-Yes, got to be.
No favourites in our house.
And your baby will be my...
You can see it in your eyes!
-..my favourite second grandchild.
-The eyes don't lie!
You can say all the niceties that you want!
No, you're my favourite youngest daughter,
or my favourite adopted child, whichever one you like.
Seoul, South Korea, the global capital of plastic surgery.
People come here from all over the world to be operated on,
and Koreans have had more procedures than anyone.
An amazing one in five of the population
have had some sort of plastic surgery.
The doctors here specialise in facial surgery,
so it's the ideal place to see what could be done for me.
I'm here in the famous Gangnam district,
known as the beauty belt of Seoul.
In this neighbourhood alone,
there are more than 400 plastic surgery clinics.
And there's a plastic surgery clinic here.
I can see all the ones already from here, down there.
There's some more coming up.
It's crazy because they're huge.
They're doing really well, obviously. Big businesses.
It's crazy how it's so tight, and it's all dense in one little area,
almost like they want to be like,
"Come here, there's all this in one spot."
I'm wondering just how many people here
have actually had their faces done.
What was excuse me again?
Can I...? One second?
Sillyehabnida? No? No.
Do you know many people that have had plastic surgery?
Excuse me? You obviously don't need it at all, both of you,
but would you ever consider having surgery done yourself?
You have a very unique face, it's lovely. I wouldn't get it done.
Have either of you thought,
"You know what? I want to get some surgery for myself"?
That's a really nice answer to hear.
It doesn't seem very common around here.
Why do you think you feel differently to everyone else?
-Thank you so much.
-Thank you so much.
In Seoul, 60% of people in their 20s have had a surgical procedure.
There's a picture of plastic surgery,
someone having their chin done, even on the tube.
There's definitely a particular look going on here.
Big eyes, small nose, and a narrow jaw.
I meet a lady who's booked in for eyelid surgery in a couple of days.
She's going to let me follow her through her procedure.
What made you decide to have the surgery?
For me, it's strange, because if you weren't getting a job,
or struggling in the job market,
we'd probably try a lot of different avenues,
rather than think, "I need to change my face."
I feel like before, plastic surgery used to be an out-of-the-norm
kind of thing to do, whereas now it seems like everyone's doing it.
Why do you think that is?
This is your first big operation. How do you feel about it?
I think you're gorgeous, honestly.
You're so pretty. For me, it's shocking
that you would want to have it done.
Oh, thank you!
I want a nose like yours!
We'll switch, right?
I've been thinking about having my nose done for years,
but it's never felt like quite the right time.
Now I'm going to have a consultation with Dr Oh,
one of the most famous surgeons in Seoul.
On his website, he claims to be the god of facial surgery.
Obviously I was excited outside, but I am getting a bit...
I'm sort of tensing a bit now cos I know that I'm an easy sell,
so I'm worried that he's going to be really persuasive and I'll be like,
"You've make great points, I will look better, let's do this."
Can you imagine?
"Sam, I've just put a non-refundable deposit down.
"I'll be back in about eight months.
"The baby will be born here.
"Plus side, it'll have a dual passport!
"How do we feel about that?"
-How are you?
-I'm good. How are you?
-I'm Dr Oh.
-Excellent, I'm Annie.
Just wondering what you would recommend for me.
-Ah, for you.
-Yeah, I know obviously...
..I know it's...
-..a big ask...
-..what you would do.
-Well, the facial proportions are very good...
For instance, you have a very lovely facial proportion,
even though you have scars, your proportions are very good.
Good proportion, you don't really need plastic surgery.
-Ah, good. I'm out.
-Saved me some money.
I've had some work done recently in the UK.
-Yes... Not too recently, probably last September.
I had my nose sort of narrowed at the top because I had webbing,
where the scars sort of pulled, just to release the tissue.
-So you released the scar?
-Yes, to release the scar tissue, yes.
-And I've started having laser work over there.
But I'm looking at possibly getting something done
-with the tip of my nose.
-But I wasn't sure what.
Do you mind if I touch?
Go for it. I've got a lot of make-up on, so you'll get it on your hand.
The difficult thing about scars, how do you say,
the shortage of soft tissue...
-..is the problem.
I mainly do cosmetic surgery.
-I try to make it more beautiful.
But in scar contracture or burn scars,
-it's more about the functional part.
And to achieve the aesthetic part, it is very, very hard.
Your nose tip, although there's a little room on the tip side,
-there's no room on the nostril side.
The nostril, that rim, this part has to come down with...
-..with the whole nose.
-So if there's not enough tissue here, it's very hard to...
Pull it down. So, would you not do a skin graft?
-No, you don't like it?
-No, I would not do that.
-You wouldn't do that.
If you gain something here, you lose something here.
For instance, there is a lot of depressions there.
Those can be released a little bit more.
What do you mean?
There is depressed because there is a shortage of skin.
-It's wrinkled, like this. It's wrinkled. There is no skin.
-Right, got you.
-So we release it.
-And, because there's no skin here,
-we're going to put something in there to replace the skin.
-So you would take skin from, say, here?
Is there anything else I could get done?
I do know that it's... There's a lot to go for, but...
The skin is very tight there.
-There is not...not enough excess of skin to stretch.
-OK, you have a good stay here.
It's funny, because I think that I was a bit shocked that,
I think maybe I wanted him to do, like, "Right, you should do this,
"you should do that." I thought he was going to say,
"Do 100 different things,"
so I think, in a way, there was a tiny bit that I was a little...
..I was a bit disappointed because he said about the scar tissue,
that there's not a lot he could do, which is fair.
You know? You know, I think, obviously, really,
if I actually gave it a proper thought, that's an obvious thing.
Now, I know I've got another consult,
so I'm going to wait, and I haven't closed the book,
but it's kind of taken the edge off, and drawn a line under it a bit.
I don't want, "Yeah, here's a wand.
"We can make everything special, you're going to feel amazing."
But at the back of my mind, I did think he was going to say,
"Hey, try this.".
I've been a bit shocked
by Koreans' obsession with this idea of physical perfection.
How are you?
I wonder what it would have been like to grow up here
with a face like mine.
I'm meeting a woman called Song to find out.
What actually happened? How did you get your scars?
Four weeks old.
What would you say it was like growing up in Korea
Get on with it. Tough love.
Since I've been in Korea,
I've really noticed that image is important, how you look,
what you do for a job, how successful you are.
Did you feel that you had a lot of social pressure
to fit in?
I... Give me a second.
I'm thinking more of you because I just think really, it's luck.
Do you know what I mean? Like, where you live, where you grow up.
Growing up, whilst I was aware I was different,
it wasn't a huge negative, it was just I was different.
It wasn't until, and I got upset as well because you said
that you had trouble getting work because of the CV and the pictures,
that my real trouble started when I was probably around 16
and all my friends were getting jobs in the local shops,
in the clothes shops,
and I couldn't really get a job. I'd go in and hand...
Because I went in to hand my CV in,
no-one really wanted to give me a job.
But beauty actually never really came into it for me for me,
if I'm brutally honest.
My mum always told me I was beautiful when I was a baby
and growing up, so I kind of just thought I was in a way, you know?
Obviously I'm not, like...
..you know, compared to standards of other people,
but I feel lucky that I grew up in an environment
where I didn't think that it was necessarily,
of more importance than your character.
If I'm honest, I think I'd have said probably the look a little bit more.
I don't think I could be comfortable with changing too far off of
how I already look.
I wouldn't ever be comfortable looking at myself in the mirror
and thinking, Jesus Christ, that's a very different face.
But I would like my nose to be...
Because to be honest with you, it's embarrassing,
I don't want to feel like, you know.
I want to, like, have my nose a bit lower.
I want to wear sunglasses, I think they look weird...
My nose looks weird with sunglasses.
So that's, yeah, that's for a look.
I would like my eyes to look nicer.
I feel like the question is more, what would I have
if I couldn't have one or the other, would I go for functional face?
Obviously, I would probably go for function,
but no, I do want to look better. I would like to look better.
So, the thought of my kids getting bullied on account of me,
that was something I was worried about.
I actually spoke to my mum about it because it's such a small thing,
I know a lot of people would be like,
"You should be worrying about your kids' health,"
I don't want people thinking I'm vain and that but, you know,
things are difficult, and I know how I can deal with things,
but having to instil that into children,
I don't how that would work.
I think my approach will be that I'll...I'll just be honest,
like my mum did. It worked for me.
That's the only thing I can relate it to.
I don't see why I would ever lie, so I think from the beginning
I will always say... It's more how they deal with it,
I think the worst thing would be if my kid came home and was like,
"I'm getting..." you know, "They're being horrible to me,
"I don't want you to drop me at school."
That would be, like, I would struggle with that.
I think I would just have to be the parent and say, "Don't be rude.
"You respect your family, you respect me," you know.
Just get them to stand up to the situation.
Which is something I would rather not deal with, but...
It's the day of Myung's operation.
She's having eyelid surgery at BK Hospital,
one of the biggest plastic surgery clinics in the beauty belt of Seoul.
This place has 16 floors,
with three of them used purely for operating theatres.
An incredible 10,000 patients come here every year.
Myung is having a consultation with medical director Dr Kim.
He'll be performing her operation.
This is a good example.
To make the eyes open bigger.
Before surgery she has left eye weakness of her opening muscles.
So I gave her surgery to make the eyes open bigger, the left eye,
so after surgery she made more symmetrical.
That looks really good.
She has both eyes weakness.
You can see how one is quite weak.
Sometimes the plastic surgery procedures
can make people more beautiful and prettier,
but actually, our purpose is to make people more...
..look friendly, and then they can have a good impression.
Many Koreans or Asian Chinese people
have a small eye opening, and they have an angry appearance.
Even though they are not angry,
everybody thinks they are angry.
After she opens the eyes bigger,
she can have a little more friendly, brighter appearance.
Has this lady just had her eyes done, or has she had anything else?
She had eyelid surgery and nose surgery too.
If I am employer,
I do not choose a person who doesn't look friendly
because when we hire people they should look prettier and nicer,
and friendly to the customers.
Do they say, "I want to look more friendly and more approachable"?
Yes. Many patients come to hospital
to request the surgery to change themselves,
to make them less scary and not angry.
Ah, so it's the history of cosmetic surgery.
Tagliacozzi coined the phrase "plastic surgery" in 1597.
I wonder how they did it, though, back then.
Do you know what I mean? Anaesthesia?
Have a couple shots of whiskey.
That's pretty much what it would have been, would it not?
Bite down on a stick? Prayer?
Oh, here we go.
So, "There are different standards for beautiful eyes by era and race.
"According to the current standard of beautiful eyes,
"you must have a well-defined shape and big eyes with double eyelids
"like Westerner, rather than small and sharp eyes like Asian."
That's bad. Just saying, "Yeah, you're not attractive.
"It's the Westerners' look, that's the one."
If it goes by this, the Asian look will be completely wiped out.
They've definitely got their picture of beauty.
It's sad that it's not their own, is basically what I'm getting at.
Oh, look. This is a slim mirror.
I've always liked to be taller.
Oh, do you know what? I'm really sorry, I like it.
Sorry! Look at me! "Don't get anything done!"
I'm in the mirror, I'm like, "Yes!"
Oh, this one isn't as good.
To be fair, it's made my head the size of a shed.
It's time for Myung's operation.
I'm definitely going to ask to keep this.
Unless blood splatters, and then they can have it.
Dr Kim has agreed to let me come and watch.
I feel like I need to explain I'm not going to be helping at all,
I'll be standing right at the back!
I'm just about to go into surgery for the first time,
and whatever I said downstairs about it not bothering me is a lie.
I'm not looking forward to this.
This is local anaesthetic.
And, after the injection of local anaesthetic,
we wait five to seven minutes.
Did you always want to be a doctor?
Yes. I think this is the best job in the world.
Why do you enjoy the job?
I think this is the most pleasant job, to make people beautiful
and the surgical procedures can change the life of the patients.
WHISPERING: It looks so sore.
The stitches are so small, like...
It's almost like an art.
Here, it seems like your face is everything
and I've heard that they take this to extremes.
So today, I get to meet a face reader so I can learn
a little bit more about the ancient art of face reading.
It's got a big impact on their society and how they go for jobs,
on how the direction of their life is,
so I get to meet this guy. He looks great.
So, yeah, I'm excited.
If it's good news I'll take it, if it's bad news, he's a fraud.
We'll just do that. We'll go with that.
This guy, he works with some of the top companies.
He works with Samsung, helps them pick who they're going to employ.
Which is huge, isn't it? All just because of their face.
No, it's interesting, I wonder what he's going to say to me.
I have good proportions, remember, so...
..he better not try and read it too much.
If he recommends I should have my nose done
after what Dr Oh says, I might have to, I don't know...
No, I'm sorry, that's off the table now.
I'm not doing it.
I don't know, I'll have a think.
Depends what he says I'll get if I get my nose done!
New nose, and you'll be swimming in riches and happiness
for the rest of your life. It's a hard thing to turn down.
Should I take my shoes off? Yes.
Is there anything you can read from my face?
I am, that's so true.
-Yes, that is so nice. So far, so good.
Yeah. Well, yeah, that's...
That's true. When I was a baby I was in a caravan fire and then
I was adopted out into a new family.
So you nailed it.
Is there anything else you can tell me about my future?
So you'd advise me getting my nose done?
Dammit, I'm back again!
I thought I drawn a line under it. What are you doing to me?
OK, well, I'll think. If I do get my nose done,
I would have... I can't just get my nose done like a regular face,
I would have it done and then there would more scars over my nose and,
as you said a second ago, the scars impact your career
so, what would you recommend?
This has given me a good insight to why the boom has even happened
because obviously it's picked up huge amounts,
the amount of plastic surgery people are having done.
If people are being told directly by face readers
that it's going to change their life for the better,
why wouldn't they get it done?
So, yeah, I mean,
I guess it's down to the individual,
and you just hope that they've got it in them to go,
"You know what? Is it good for me? Is the right thing for me to do?"
Whether or not plastic surgery is necessary to improve beauty
will always be a grey area.
But I know from experience that it can literally transform your life.
In South Korea, there's even a popular makeover show
called Let Me In that offers plastic surgery as a prize.
Contestants have to persuade the judges that their features
make it impossible for them to live a normal life...
..and that the only solution is plastic surgery.
The truth about plastic surgery here
is that perfectly normal-looking people
are having really extreme surgery...
..all in the pursuit of some strange idea of perfection.
Back at BK Hospital I'm meeting Viv,
who is about to have her whole face reshaped.
Tell me about the jaw.
OK, the jaw I want to look like more slimmer because now I have, quite...
The shape is quite square.
So after the jaw reduction I will look like more slimmer.
-To make it more sharp.
-I want to get more prettier.
-Yeah. Oh, more prettier?
-You're gorgeous already.
Tell me about the fat graft, what's happening there?
Fat graft, they're going to take my fats and inject it in my face.
Where are they going to take the fats from, you're tiny!
Maybe some fat on my tummy, or my thigh.
So thighs or tummy, and then they are going to put it in your cheeks?
-To give you fuller cheekbones?
-Yes, and forehead.
-Put a little bit in the forehead?
-Why the forehead?
To make it more fuller because I think it is now very, like...
OK. I wouldn't have thought that, but fair enough.
Did you have a look in mind before?
No, I don't have.
You didn't have a look in mind.
You came to see the consultant and then he said, you know,
-"I think this would work for you."
So you weren't upset that he said,
-"Right, I want to improve three big things in your face"?
-You're happy that he said this?
-Yes, I am happy, yes.
That's quite a specific look, quite sort of...
..almost doll-like, quite a sweet look.
Is that something that's popular with your friends.
Mostly of my friends, they have reshaped look, which I don't have.
And how are you feeling about it?
I am feeling nervous, of course, but I am ready for it, yeah.
We're ready for the patient.
-Sure, come, let's go.
She's so pretty.
The fact that the consultant told her to do those three big things,
again, it is nice that she's come and he's given her advice,
but they're really big operations.
She don't need it.
Don't get me wrong. My doctors have even said, "These are options,"
but look at my face.
I can get a load of crap on this sorted out, but her, I'm like...
They're creating a slightly weird little army look.
No-one's looking like themselves,
they just looking like they've got that look.
Of course you can do it, but does it need to be done?
No, I don't think it does.
That makes you think, who's driving it?
She went... She didn't really have an idea.
She was, like, "Yeah, I just want to look prettier."
It's a bit sad really, isn't it?
Come this way.
I will draw a line for your surgery.
-Only one temple?
That will make your face look younger.
You have some protruded bone.
Let me show you the X-ray.
This is OK, but here, too much protrusions.
We may cut this bone out.
OK. Let's prepare your surgery.
In Britain, jaw surgery is rarely carried out
unless to correct facial deformities.
Can I come in?
The surgery involves changing your entire facial bone structure
and making the face much smaller.
Right now, being in here, it seems so excessive.
Viv will literally have a whole new face by the end of this.
That was super intense.
It's difficult to know what to say to that
because I was having a little chat with old Viv on the settee,
and then I was seeing her face being pulled away from her jawbone.
I've got a strong constitution, I think, in that area
but I was just like, "Shitbags."
Do you feel quite conflicted?
I do feel conflicted, you know, seeing all of it.
You just think, as well, like,
you understand when people have big surgeries for big reasons but...
Do you know what I mean? ..in the name of beauty,
and she is a gorgeous girl anyway.
I don't know, I keep going back and forth because,
let's see, I haven't had my consult with Dr Kim yet.
Do you know what I mean?
He might say, "Annie, do this and this and this," and there's me,
"Yeah, I'll be back in three months!"
I don't know. It's just, after that... Do you know what I mean?
You just want to hope that you can doll yourself up with some lipstick
and a nice smile, don't you?
Not all the doctors here are like Dr Kim.
Sometimes, surgery can go horribly wrong.
I've come to meet a lawyer who specialises
in plastic surgery related lawsuits.
He currently has 300 cases on his books.
So are medical malpractices on the increase?
How do you think the botched surgeries happen?
And what would you say the... What's the worst case you've seen?
That's so... That's terrible. And how long has she been in a coma for?
I can't believe that, that's horrible.
You'd think, though, if she was a scholar, she'd want to look into
more who was doing the surgery.
It makes you think that,
-I don't know, I guess it can happen to anyone.
Oh, my God!
That's so bad!
Do you worry, then, that cases are going to get worse,
or there's going to be more of these types of incidences
if things aren't brought under control?
So many young people are going under the knife,
do you think they're aware of the consequences?
Thank you. Thank you.
Sarah is an American classical pianist,
one of the victims of South Korea's plastic surgery industry.
So what brought you to have the surgeries, plastic surgery?
Well, actually, I went to a couple of auditions here in Seoul
and the producers thought it would be beneficial if I lost some weight,
and particularly they wanted me to start in my arms
because I was wearing a lot of sleeveless dresses
in my live performances so, you know,
I was playing piano or singing, it looked a bit "uneven", they said.
Can I ask what sort of procedure you came for?
Sure, yes. It's an auxiliary arm lift.
-So he said he would cut here...
..take out some fat by liposuction,
cut some skin, and then fix it up to make a beautiful silhouette.
Right. And what actually happened?
Well, he told me it was supposed to be same-day surgery.
However, even after two weeks, the sutures weren't healing correctly.
When I went to him, he said,
"There is some problem, but we can fix it later.
"Let me staple this wound."
Unfortunately this is what happened a week later.
Oh, my God! That's terrible.
Yes. I was reaching in my book shelf in my apartment
and it just, my arm just, it felt like a rip of paper,
like when jeans rip.
-I reached for a book...
-Oh, my God!
..and my whole armpit just opened like that.
That looks so sore. Oh, my God.
-Sorry, I'm smiling because it's making me squeamish.
Yeah. I was with a friend who said, "No, this is really bad.
"We need to go to an emergency room."
One of the ER attendants said to me, you know, this is really serious.
The blood tests showed that there was a quite advanced staph infection
running through my body.
It was so severe that the doctor asked my friends to call my parents
to say, "We're not sure how much we can help her."
It was that serious.
-Oh, my God.
-It took about ten days,
and finally the infection was cleared.
They had to do a skin graft.
After my infection was gone,
they took the skin graft from my thigh,
and they patched up the hole here.
Because obviously the severity of this wound,
-he realised that the median nerve was damaged.
I was just told that this kind of damage, you cannot fully recover
your feeling, and your motor coordination in your hand,
so, as a classical pianist,
that's the worst news you could ever think about.
Your career is gone, basically.
Sarah is fighting her surgeon in court.
He maintains that he did nothing wrong.
I think it's quite a dire situation
that this doctor is still practising,
and that people don't know,
and I feel that it's really, really important
to just protect people.
Put this word out there, plastic surgery is great,
South Korea is number one,
however, you must be cautious in your decision-making.
You need to be sure the government backs up this hospital.
Do your research very thoroughly.
Meeting Sarah and the lawyer has given me a lot to think about.
Dr Kim is a certified surgeon, and works at a government backed clinic.
I've come to meet him to see what surgery he'd recommend for my nose.
I made some computer simulation surgery for your nose.
-Right now, you have a very shortened nose.
With this simulation surgery, we made some correction.
We can see after surgery
nose is coming down.
For the patient who doesn't have any scar constriction on the skin,
-we can release much more.
But for your case, I'm afraid your skin has some constriction.
-So I am showing you the simulation surgery,
which can make only some degree of improvement.
Yes, so this is without the graft, this is just with the...
-..just with the cartilage.
That would be ideal because I don't want to have another skin graft.
What would you recommend?
I think if you want a little more perfect result, you need...
..still need skin graft.
-Even though you need skin graft,
I would recommend you to do structure changes first,
and if you really need it after structure change,
you can try a skin graft later.
OK, so you think I can do one and then come back.
-It's best to actually have a break?
Do you know what? I can get on board with that.
I can recommend another very simple one.
This kind of scar should be released with skin graft.
For example, your left finger, this joint should flex.
-I know, it doesn't bend.
-It should flex. You cannot flex that joint.
-That would be ideal, wouldn't it?
-You cannot flex the joint.
-No, I can't.
-The first joint should flex like this.
You think I can bend my finger?
-Yes, that would be so good.
I thought this finger would be long gone.
My hands get really sore.
-But I don't say anything because there's no point talking,
and my Sam always takes the piss,
-he says my hand looks like a flipper.
This surgery is not to make a cosmetic improvement,
this is to make a functional improvement,
to make your fingers work properly.
-That could be done?
-I would love that.
-I'm going to cry, I'm so sorry.
I'm so embarrassed, sorry.
I'm so sorry.
But, yeah, that would be so nice.
Because my hands, literally, are like... I can't really...
Like, it's just annoying, and they ache a lot
and so I didn't think...
I'm crying because I didn't think I could do anything about it.
Oh, my God.
If you're 30 and your hands hurt now,
I think, you know, what about when I'm, you know,
50 or 60?
Do you know what I mean? You don't want...
Yeah, I just think I worry that in the future my hands will...
They're going to fail me, because even if I write for, like,
10, 15 minutes, I'm like, "God, you know, that's got to go."
I want to make you a big improvement of your function of the fingers.
Yeah. That is so nice.
That is much more meaningful surgery.
Thank you so much.
-Thank you. Goodbye.
I didn't expect at all that he'd say anything about my hands,
which was quite interesting because it made me realise
what actually is important to me.
Speaking to him today, I got the feeling, not only that
he can help me functionally, which was a huge shock,
I didn't think that was on the table for me.
If I can't use my hands, I can't work, you know.
That's not something anyone wants to be thinking about at 30.
And they ache a lot.
Day-to-day, they pretty much ache.
So... Yeah, sorry, I keep going on about my hands, but I'm just...
..so happy about it.
I made a joke to Sam, I said,
"Sam, what are you going to do if I come home with, like,
five different operations that I want?"
And that is basically what's happened!
This has gone horribly wrong, hasn't it?
I thought I would find some inner peace.
Instead, I'm like, "You know what? I'll take the lot.
"Thank you very much."
I'm going to call Myung now, have a little catch up with her and see,
yeah, how she's looking.
So how are you feeling after your surgery?
It looks brilliant.
Oh, that's good, that's ideal. That's lovely.
OK, how about the love life?
That's why you're not working,
because you're focusing on the love life! Get back to the work!
A successful operation. That's ideal.
THEY SPEAK KOREAN
I think I've near enough made my decision about surgery.
I think I am going to do it.
Next year. Next year at some point.
But my head is just not in the game right now.
Look at me, I'm folding clothes, I'm thinking about him and,
can I breast-feed and can I actually...
..will I sleep? Will I be a nice person still,
or will I hate everyone because I'm tired?
It's so cute, look at it!
Actually, if I'm honest, it makes me feel, like,
I feel a little bit guilty thinking about wanting to have things done
when I'm having a child and I should be not caring about that,
and all that mother earth, and all of, you know,
focusing just on the baby, whereas, you know,
there's part of me that's still like,
"No, let's sort that nose out, sunshine."
What it comes down to, really, is what are you going to regret less?
It sounds very morbid to say it like that,
but I think most decisions have to come to that
because you're never going to be 100% on either decision, ever.
And, especially with a decision like this, because it is so grey,
it's not black-and-white at all.
I think I would regret it less if I went for it.
In light of history, and how I've lived my life,
I'm going to have to do it, I know.
..pro-"go for it", so...
I have to go for it, won't I?
As a baby, Annie Price was badly burnt in a caravan fire. She had life-saving operations on her face, but growing up her mum encouraged her to get on with her life rather than focusing on further plastic surgery. Now, aged 31 and about to get married, Annie is travelling to South Korea, where cosmetic surgery is so common people have double eyelid surgery and are back at work the next day. She wants to find out what some of the best plastic surgeons would recommend for her.
In South Korea 60 per cent of women in their twenties have had plastic surgery, and each year hundreds of thousands of people travel there specifically to get procedures done. Annie meets Myung, who is having her eyes widened in the belief it will help her get a better job, and Viv, who is having her whole face reshaped to make herself look prettier. Having resisted pressure from doctors to operate on her face for most of her life, Annie wants to understand why these young women feel compelled to modify very normal parts of their faces.
In Korean society, first impressions are very important, so Annie meets a face reader who says he can predict a person's wealth and happiness just from their features. Finally, she meets one of South Korea's top plastic surgeons to find out what they would suggest for her and tries to decide if she wants to have surgery to change her face.