Haven’t we all wished for shapelier boobs, a sharper nose or more deep-set eyes?
Jacqueline Koh wanted much more. She wanted to look like the archetypal anime girl – a heart-shaped face, big sparkling eyes, a small nose and chin, flatter ears, a svelte body and full, ripe breasts.
In her quest, the 29-year-old fashion designer at homegrown fashion boutique The Blog Shop has undergone nine plastic surgery procedures and one correction job.
The cost: $136,000 in total – the most expensive being her $36,000 breast augmentation procedure.
She still isn’t completely satisfied and rates her looks three and a half out of five.
“I’ll be perfect five the day I don’t need to Photoshop my pictures,” she says.
She always touches up her pictures before posting them on her blog at www.jacquelinekoh.com.
She hopes to finally attain “perfection” this March, after she goes for her second correction job with the same Korean surgeon who did her numerous facial operations.
The doctor will making her nose tip even smaller and her chin slightly more V-shaped.
It all started two years ago when she put on 6kg in about a year and a half, even though there was no change in her diet. At 1.6m and 48kg, she says she looked chubby.
She thinks gained weight because “my metabolism was slowing down” and for three months, she ate less and exercised to shed the excess weight.
“I ate one meal a day, worked out on the Stairmas for 15 minutes and did the biceps curl using 1kg dumbbells every day,” she says. But she didn't slim down.
Exasperated, she decided to go all out. She wanted not just to lose weight, but also to revamp her entire look.
Improving her appearance was always on her mind, she says. Her weight gain was simply the catalyst.
Though Jacqueline says she’s “not an anime fan”, she settled on the look of anime girls because she "really likes [their] big eyes and small faces."
She also wrote a list of all the procedures she wanted to go for to get her ideal look.
Her family and friends had always said she looked perfectly all right, but she felt she was “just average-looking”.
She says: “They think I didn’t need to go for my operations in first place, but it’s a personal choice. It will be enough when I think it’s enough.”
Did a former verbally and physically abusive relationship that ended in 2004 – Her World ran a story on it a few years ago – have anything to do with her extreme makeover?
Jacqueline vehemently says no. “I had all the procedures done for myself.”
A disastrous start
A disastrous start
She first had Vaser Lipo (a procedure like liposuction, but gentler) in February 2010.
She paid $10,000 to have it done by a local general practitioner she found online.
She was put under twilight anaesthesia – a type of anaesthesic that sedates you but doesn’t knock you out – which made the experience unnerving.
“I could hear the doctor and nurses speaking and feel tubes being inserted into my body. I didn’t feel any pain but it was frightening,” she recalls.
She asked the doctor to turn on soothing music to calm her down and kept repeating to herself: “I’m going to be skinny soon." But that didn’t happen.
After the procedure, “I had bruises and lumps all over my bod like I had been beaten up,” she says.
For three months, she waited for her body to heal and couldn’t do much except to lie in bed.
Bored, she kept herself busy by surfing the Internet, reading and listening to music. Thankfully, she could work from home.
The bruises went away, but there were “dents” and “zigzag lines” on her arms, legs an buttocks because, she claims “the doctor didn’t remove the fat evenly”.
“I looked like a freak," she recalls.
She also ballooned to 58kg despite eating normally.
She went back to the doctor and demanded he re-do the procedure for free. He did, but it didn’t help. The “dents” reappeared.
Frustrated, she looked elsewhere for a solution. Going online, she stumbled across a non-surgical, non-invasive procedure called Velashape, in which a machine is used to pull on your skin to reshape your body.
According to Jacqueline, it feels like a warm deep tissue massage. She flew to Bangkok alone to have the procedure done at Yanhee Hospital there because it cost only US$300 (S$385) per session. Local doctors were charging $1,600.
After three sessions, she said the lumps on her body smoothened out.
At the same time, she went on a detox diet, “drinking only fresh fruit juice for five days and eating only breakfast for nine days”. She also exercised. Her weight dropped to 45kg and she has maintained it ever since.
Looking to Seoul
That harrowing first experience didn’t deter her from going for more procedures. But she made sure she did her homework first.
She visited 10 local surgeons to ask questions about their procedures and did her research online.
In June 2010, she got her boobs done by a top-notch local surgeon. She went from a 32A to a 34C.
“I couldn’t see my feet,” she says, recalling her swelled-up post-surgery chest.
The doctor told her that the swelling would go down by 70 per cent, and it did. She was very pleased with the results.
There was no stopping her now. Four months later, she flew to Seoul – together with her ex-boyfriend and a girlfriend to lend moral support – to get her eyes, nose, ears and chin done.
She chose South Korea because “the surgeons there are more experienced in giving me the look I wanted than local ones”.
She shopped for a surgeon on the first day and decided on who was friendly and spoke English well.
In one day, she had several operations to make her eyes bigger and more deep-set, otoplasty to flatten her ears and rhinoplasty to sharpen her nose.
Cartilage from her ear was used as an implant for her nose bridge.
Three days later, she got a chin implant. The airfare and accommodation cost about $3,000 in total.
Though she was mentally prepared, she still ended up in tears after the operations.
“I was depressed,” she says. “I felt ugly. My swelled-up head looked like a pig’s head.”
She didn't look in the mirror for the two weeks she was in Seoul and kept telling herself that she was going to look beautiful once her wounds healed.
Going public online
Going public online
As Jacqueline was dissatisfied with the results from the Korea trip – “my eyes were uneven and my nose too high and my chin protruded too much”, she recalls – she went back to the same surgeon in Seoul last May for a correction job.
He evened out her eyes, lowered her nose bridge, made her nose tip and chin smaller, and shaved her cheekbones to slim down her face.
Everything took a total of two to three hours.
This time, she recovered in two weeks because she took Sineech, a medication that brings down the swelling.
She says the surgeon will do as many revisions as she wants, free of charge, till satisfied.
Last August, she wrote in her blog about her operations because she wanted to help others make more informed choices about plastic surgery.
On the first day of the post, she received 824 e-mails from readers (whom she calls “fans”) asking for her advice.
“I didn’t write about my procedures to become famous,” she insists.
“I wanted to help women become as beautiful as me or even more beautiful. When I was doing research for operations, people weren’t that open to sharing their experiences.”
Today, her blog has a growing “fan base”, which is made up mostly of local working women in their 20s to 40s.
She also gets 800 to 900 e-mails a day from readers seeking advice on procedures. She replies to all of them, she says.
She also gives her fans a list of surgeons to choose from and tells them what to look for.
“It’s very important to meet with the doctors beforehand to ask questions,” she advises. "I always ask about the procedure, recovery process and possible complications in detail.”
The end is near?
The end is near?
After the upcoming correction job in March, Jacqueline doesn’t see herself going for any procedures – for now.
“Maybe a facelift in two or three years’ time,” she says lightly. But she will have her biannual Botox and fillers fix to smooth out her nasal folds and facial lines.
Each procedure will cost between $600 and $1,000.
For daily maintenance, she uses a facial mask and spends $50 to $100 a month on skincare.
She also applies scar gel to the remaining Vaser scars.
She doesn’t have any other visible scars except for incisions under her breasts.
Every week, she uses three different handheld aesthetic machines to rejuvenate her skin.
She imports them from South Korea, Japan and the US, and sells them on her online store yourbeautyguru.com.sg because, she says, her fans are always asking how she maintains her glowing skin.
When asked how she feels about her looks, she says: “I feel really good about myself, definitely better than before.”
And she’s quick to reiterate: “I’ve had all these operations done for myself. I just want to make myself happy.”
She also insists that it’s only her exterior that has changed. “I’m still the same person on the inside.”
What she had done
The procedures she did
• Double eyelid surgery and cutting of the inner and outer corners of her eyes
• Nose job
• Flattening of her ears
• Shaving of her cheekbones
• Chin implant
• Vaser Lipo: A gentler form of liposuction on her body
• Velashape: Pulling on skin to reshape her body
• Boob job: Upsizing her breasts from 32A to 34C
What can go wrong after the surgery
What can go wrong after the surgery
Complications don’t often occur. But the healing process may go haywire.
“Hardening of breast implants can affect 5 per cent to 10 per cent of patients,” says Dr JJ Chua of JJ Chua Rejuvenative Cosmetic & Laser Surgery.
“This can be due to the body’s overzealous immune system forming a capsule of hard fibres around the implant,” explains Dr Chow Yuen Ho, a director at TCS at Central Clinic.
Avoid this by massaging your breasts minutes a day or by doing any exercise.
“The implants may also get infected,” adds Dr Chow. Doctors reduce the risk of infection by putting patients on a short course of antibiotics after the surgery.
“If the infection is bad, the implants will have to be removed," he said.
"New implants can only be re-inserted when the infection has cleared up."
Double eyelid surgery
“You risk getting multiple creases on the eyes and scarring, due to poor wound recovery,” says Dr Chow.
Reduce your risk by going for minimally invasive techniques which use smaller incisions.
Be careful during sports and avoid over-exuberant facial massages and aggressive extraction done during facials.
“Otherwise, your nose implant can get infected and you’ll have to remove it,” cautions Dr Chua.
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