South Korea has one of the highest per capita rates of cosmetic surgery procedures in the world–with giant billboards advertising popular surgeries, with a constant gossip cycle about who’s had work done and who hasn’t (you know, like here)–but the nation’s latest trendy procedure is a lot more intense than your typical tugs, tightenings and injections.
The procedure is called “double jaw surgery,” and if that doesn’t make you shudder, you are made of stronger stock than us.
Originally intended to address “congenital facial deformities or for people unable to chew properly due to excessive over or underbite,” the operation involves realigning the upper and lower jaws. To make a cuter, newer jaw. We guess.
Apparently double jaw surgery results in a slimmer jawline–rather, it helps to achieve the common feminine ideal of a slim, narrow jaw with high cheekbones and big eyes. Per the Daily News, one doctor with the Korean Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons explained the procedure took off around four years ago when a Seoul-based dental clinic ran a major campaign touting the procedure’s cosmetic benefits.
Of course, it’s still surgery. It still involves general anesthesia and takes “months” to recover from. It also comes along with risks like permanent facial numbness and paralysis. You know, like surgery:
“This surgery alters your look far more dramatically than, say, Botox or a nose job because it changes your entire facial bone structure,” said Choi Jin-Young, a professor in dentistry at Seoul National University. “But it’s a very complex, potentially dangerous surgery … it’s disturbing to see people with no real dental flaws daring to go through it just to have a small, pretty face.”
Demand for the procedure has also inspired a number of plastic surgeons to “promote more radical procedures that others might not offer.”
Naturally, the ad campaigns are awful and shaming:
Advertising for the procedure is prevalent and unambiguous.
“The double jaw surgery clinic chosen by the pickiest ladies,” reads one typical poster on a Seoul subway station wall, with large before and after photos.
“Everyone but you has done it,” admonishes another on a metro bus.
There’s no way to tell how many South Korean women have gone under the knife for cosmetic reasons (statistics don’t differentiate between medical need and otherwise) but a study cited by the News warns that “some 52 percent of those who had taken the surgery suffered sensory problems.” It gets worse:
Seoul’s consumer protection agency saw the number of registered complaints surge from 29 in 2010 to 89 last year, though many more cases of post-operative problems are believed to go unreported.
“My mouth keeps moving leftward and the jaw area has gone numb,” wrote one user of a medical consumer online forum, showing photos of her skewed mouth.
“I can’t even feel when saliva keeps dripping out of my mouth,” she said.
So this is terrifying.
For another angle on South Korea’s plastic surgery obsession (which, to us doesn’t seem quantifiably different from our American one), we recommend this awesome video by VICE about the country’s massively popular “double eyelid” surgery.
(via NYDN, image via Shutterstock)