SINGAPORE - Now that more people are travelling to Seoul for surgery, Dr Tan of The Sloane Clinic Plastic Surgery Centre says he has seen more patients in the last year who need corrections after getting work done there, up from one every three months to one every three weeks.
Add to that the risk of infections and having to make return trips for follow-ups and corrections, and it is no wonder why some Singaporeans such as Ms C. Chen would never consider going abroad for surgery.
"I picked my local plastic surgeon only because he was referred to me by a trusted aesthetics doctor," says the 30-year-old housewife, who declined to give her full name.
She has spent more than $50,000 in the last five years on Botox injections and breast implants that were all done locally at the Sloane Clinic Plastic Surgery Centre and Nu.Reflections Medical Aesthetics.
"I'm more assured by our local medical regulations than the ones overseas which I'm not familiar with," she adds.
In 2012, blogger Hong Qiu Ting, 26, paid just $170 dollars for alarplasty to reduce the width of her nostrils in Bangkok at a clinic that she had researched thoroughly online. It also came highly recommended on forums.
In Singapore, she had been quoted $3,500 for the same procedure. But the old adage "you pay for what you get" applied in her case. She ended up with unbalanced nostrils.
She did not correct it because she says it is not obvious. But she advises those who are considering plastic surgery overseas: "Choose wisely where you do your surgery. Even the most recommended doctor who puts you on a wait list for six months can muck up a simple surgery."
Next Tips on how to choose wisely
1. Do your research thoroughly
Visit the official tourism site of the cities for more information on the accredited clinics or hospitals.
The Korea Tourism Organisation's (KTO) site lists the outfits that are registered with the South Korean government (asiaenglish.visitkorea.or.kr).
If the clinic or hospital you visited is not on the list, it might be more difficult for the KTO to help you if you have any complaints afterwards, says Ms Caitrin Moh, the organisation's meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions manager.
Do as much research as possible on the clinic or hospital that you are interested in, by visiting their website and going on forums for independent reviews.
Most reputable hospitals that are equipped with dealing with foreign patients have 24-hour Internet chatlines, or live video consultations where queries can be answered.
Also, if the site is written mostly in grammatically correct English, there is a better chance that you would find English-speaking coordinators and doctors there. For extra security, it is best to get in touch with a medical coordinator at the hospital or clinic who speaks your language before flying over, adds Ms Moh.
Next Do not make decisions based merely on cost
2. Do your legwork
Make appointments with and visit at least four clinics before you sign on the dotted line.
Seeing the place in person will give you a better understanding of its facilities and medical staff.
Size does not matter; the biggest hospitals are not necessarily the best, and smaller outfits are not necessarily sub-standard, shares Ms Moh.
Do not make your decisions based merely on the cost.
3. Stick to your guns
Aggressive doctors or coordinators might persuade you to get more procedures done than you need or want. So be firm. If you want only eyelid surgery, stick to that and do not be swayed, even if they say you will look better with extra work done.
Get a copy of Urban, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.