The ugly side of the beauty business

SINGAPORE - Power blogger Jacqueline Koh, 31, has lost count of the number of offers of free cosmetic procedures made to her by Korean beauty clinics, in return for promoting their services to her readers.

But Ms Koh turned down every one of the five-figure offers.

"I don't feel comfortable pushing a particular clinic to readers, because I cannot guarantee the results. I am not a doctor," she said.

Ms Koh, who had double eyelid surgery and two nose jobs, among other procedures, said feedback from her readers suggests there are "a lot of botched jobs".

Ms Diana Kim, who is on the global marketing team of Korean medical tourism operator Hyundai Medis, warns of disreputable "medical brokers", who usually operate independently.

These brokers work like medical tourism agencies, but they charge patients a fee. Reputable agencies get commissions only from the medical institutions.

The Straits Times understands there are such agents in Singapore, hired by South Korean clinics to organise group trips for Singaporeans to receive cosmetic treatment at these clinics. They also arrange for South Korean doctors to travel here to hold consultations with potential patients.

Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) said foreign doctors have to register with the Singapore Medical Council for a practising certificate before they can practise here, under the supervision of a fully-registered doctor.

Online forums are another grey area where medical brokers or even doctors may lurk.

Bank executive Denise Chan, 40, booked a trip to South Korea for double eyelid surgery several years ago with strangers she met on an online forum.

"Looking back, it was quite risky," she said, adding that she was fortunate there were no complications.

MOH warns that people who seek treatment abroad do so at their own risk.

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