By Lee Hyo-sik
Around this time of the year, many female high-school seniors visit cosmetics surgery clinics in southern Seoul to improve their appearance before their transition into university the following spring.
Many university graduates also go under the knife during the three-month-long winter vacation, hoping that an improved look will help them find jobs and meet better partners in this increasingly appearance-oriented society.
But they should exercise a great deal of caution over possible post-operative side effects of plastic surgeries, the state-run consumer protection agency advised, saying clinics in the areas south of the Han River are the most frequent target of consumer complaints.
The Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) said Tuesday that the number of consumers who sought consultations with the agency jumped 20 percent from a year earlier to 3,641 from January to November this year.
Of them, 78 consumers filed complaints with KCA against their plastic surgeons, citing diverse undesirable side-effects.
Over the past three years, those who received blepharoplasty surgery, also known as double eye-lid plastic surgery, reported the most frequent side effects. The agency said 43 consumers reported harmful side effects from this procedure, followed by 39 after a nose job, 25 after facial reconstruction, 22 from liposuction and 15 from breast implants.
Extra care essential
``Not to mention female high-school and university students, it is not unusual these days for male students to get cosmetic surgery to upgrade their looks. But prior to the operation, they should do their research thoroughly,’’ said Kwon Nam, head of KCA’s medical affairs team. ``Patients should get surgery from licensed and highly-experienced surgeons even though it costs more. They should not be lured by clinics that offer procedures at extremely cheaper prices.’’
Prior to the operation, Kwon said, patients should notify surgeons of their medical records and take a photos of themselves.
``After the surgery, they should follow doctors’ instructions to minimize potential side effects. Above all, patients should not expect a complete transformation from the operation,’’ she said.
Those who suffer from cosmetic surgery-caused side effects need to document their symptoms and secure visual evidence in preparation for potential legal conflicts with cosmetic clinics, Kwon said.
``Patients should first call us at 02-3460-3000 to get advice from our staff about what to do,’’ she said.
KCA said consumers filed the most complaints against clinics located in southern Seoul, the area known as ``Korea’s cosmetic surgery hub.’’
By gender, 94 percent of the victims who suffered side-effects were women. Most of them were in their 20s and 30s.
Nearly 17 percent cited asymmetric figuration, with 8 percent complaining of scars and damaged nerves.
KCA said it asked the Fair Trade Commission to set guidelines to help resolve conflicts between patients and clinics.
``We will carry out a range of publicity activities to increase the awareness of side effects of cosmetic surgery among high school and university students,’’ Kwon said.
성형수술 부작용 중 쌍거풀 수술이 가장 많은 것으로 나타났다.
한국소비자원은 26일 급증하는 성형 피해를 막기 위해 ‘성형 수술 주의보’를 발령했다. 소비자원에 따르면 올해 1월부터 11월까지 접수된 성형외과 상담은 지난해 2949에서 3641건으로 급증했다. 성형 피해 신고는 78건으로 전체 진료 과목 중 내과(112건), 치과(96건)에 이어 3위였다.
최근 3년간 성형 부작용 220건을 조사한 결과 쌍꺼풀 수술이 43건으로 가장 많았다. 코수술(39건), 안면윤곽수술(25건), 지방 주입·제거(22건), 유방수술(15건) 순으로 나타났다.
계약금 분쟁은 33건으로 피해 유형 가운데 ‘계약금 미반환’이 35%나 차지했다. 소보원에 건의해 성형외과에서 배상이나 계약금 환급을 받은 사례는 전체의 30%에 불과했다.
계약금 문제와 성형 부작용이 가장 많은 곳은 서초동 G성형외과(7건), 신사동 G성형외과(7건)로 조사됐다. 이어 강남권인 대치동 M의원(6건), 신사동 A성형외과의원(5건)순이었다. M의원은 성형외과 전문의 자격증도 없었다.
피해 고객의 94%는 여성으로 20대가 절반에 가까운 44%에 달해 가장 많았다. 30대와 40대는 각각 21%였다.
‘수술 후 비대칭’(17%), ‘흉터 또는 신경손상’(8%) 도 많았다.
이밖에 성형 수술시 수술 동의서를 작성하지 않는 사례가 많았다. 피해 고객 중 47%는 수술 동의서를 쓰지 않았다.
공정거래위원회에 수술 계약금 분쟁 해결에 대한 기준 마련을 건의했으며 여고생·여대생에게는 성형 부작용 분쟁 사례를 홍보하기로 했다.