Across the world, Koreans are known for their absolutely perfect, ageless skin and extensive skincare routines. In fact, Korean skincare is so popular in the United States that huge makeup chains like Sephora and Ulta have entire sections of their stores dedicated to Korean skincare products like facemasks, serums, wrinkle creams and more. But why is it that Koreans have such amazing skin and what do they do to achieve it?
While many Americans would like to have good skin, they usually prioritize their hair or clothing but in Korea, perfect skin is the ultimate beauty standard and Koreans will go to great lengths to achieve it. Korean women can spend up to two hours every day applying various serums and moisturizers! This includes cleansers, exfoliation, toner, prescription and over the counter treatments, sheet masks, eye cream, moisturizer and, finally, some sort of sunscreen with a high SPF. Each person’s routine is individualized for their skin type and any skin issues they deal with. The goal is light, even and ageless skin.
However, such a strong emphasis on perfection has its downsides as well. Seoul, South Korea is considered the plastic surgery capital of the world. With over 980,000 reported plastic surgeries in 2014, South Korea’s number of surgeries per capita is nearly double that of the United States, at 20 procedures per one thousand people. The most popular surgery is eyelid surgery, a procedure to create a double eyelid crease giving the eyes a larger, more awake appearance. South Korean parents often pressure their children to get this procedure or even buy it for them as a graduation present. And it’s not just eyes. Younger and younger teens are getting rhinoplasties, face lifts or double jaw surgeries. These surgeries by themselves are fine, but the societal pressure to look exactly the same can have detrimental effects on teens, who tend to be very susceptible to peer pressure and bullying. All procedures are not inherently bad though. As with any type of procedure, it’s most important to do your research and talk to a medical professional in order to make your decision.
Korean dermatology and skincare routines are so highly regarded around the world that Seoul is known as a dermatology destination. From the rest of Asia to Europe, the United States and Australia, people flock to Seoul for procedures only available in Korea or just to see for themselves what an appointment with a Korean dermatologist is like. For this reason, many of the dermatology clinics around Seoul offer translators for English and other languages and many of the doctors themselves are fluent in at least Korean and English. The websites also cater to foreigners and clinics often have special treatments for patients who will only be in Korea for a short amount of time and cannot come back for frequent follow-ups.
If you’re one of the many people who want to see what Korean skincare is all about, beyond what products you can find in the United States, Seoul is the place for you. We’ve rounded up some of the best dermatologist and clinics around Seoul that cover everything from general dermatology to laser treatments and even stem cell therapy.
- General Dermatology
General dermatology treatments refer to treatments that are done to resolve a medical issue, not procedures that are done purely for personal aesthetic preference like skin whitening. Examples of general dermatology include acne treatment, allergy tests, wart and fungus treatment, psoriasis, vitiligo and more.
Dr. Woo of Woo Skin has an excellent reputation for solving all types of general dermatology problems. He and his associate, Dr. Hann, opened their clinic in 1975 with the goal of providing the the best treatment of skin diseases and general skin care. Since then, Woo Skin hs become one of the leading dermatology clinics in Seoul. Dr. Woo speaks excellent English, a perk for foreign patients.
Treatments that Dr. Woo is popular for include wart and mole removal and skin pigmentation lightening. He also performs skin allergy tests and treatment as well as taking skin biopsies for any skin ailment that is unidentifiable or needs extra confirmation before treatment.
- Laser Treatment
Laser treatments are available for a vast number of skin issues. One of the most popular laser treatments in Seoul is anti aging laser therapy. This does not stop the aging process, but it can slow it down. These treatments include lifting or tightening, skin whitening and hair removal as well as scar lightening and tattoo removal. Different wavelengths of lasers are used for each type of procedure in order to target the specific type of cell. Laser treatments usually require a number of appointments over a period of time. Each case is specific so dermatologist will determine the exact course of treatment per case. One of the biggest perks about laser treatment is that chances of scarring are very low because it is a non-invasive procedure.
Dr. Ji-Eun Kim at the Ever Skin Clinic in Seoul specializes in laser treatments. She has her M.D. from HanYang University and her Ph.D. in Dermatology from HanYang University Hospital, where she is also a research professor. She is also a member of a number of dermatology associations in Korea and the American Academy of Dermatology. Dr. Ji-Eun Kim speaks Korean and English, as do the rest of the staff at Ever Skin Clinic so foreigners can easily receive and understand their treatments.
In her Laser Clinic, Dr. Ji-Eun Kim offers hair and tattoo removal, toning for large pores and fine wrinkles, facial rejuvenation, vascular laser treatment for facial flushing and redness, scar remodeling, skin tightening, acne treatment and mole, pigment and birthmark lightening. Each treatment uses a very specific type of laser for best results.
- Non-surgical Aesthetic Procedures
Non-surgical aesthetic dermatology procedures include any type of procedure that is done for personal preference for one’s appearance and does not require surgery. Examples include skin whitening, meditoxin and fillers. It does not include medical problems like acne or any procedures that require surgery, like a rhinoplasty.
Dr. Taehwan Kim, the Director at Renewme Skin Clinic, specializes in aesthetic medicine. He graduated from Hanyang University Medical School and was an assistant professor at Sungkyunkwan University Medical School. He is a member the Association of Korean Dermatologists, the Dermatological Association, the Korean Society for Acne Research, Korean Laser Therapy Association and the Korean Hair Research Society.
Dr. Kim performs a number of aesthetic procedures such as fat grafts, cheek and chin augmentations, dermal, collagen and fat fillers and lip augmentations. These are procedures to change the shape of your face via implants or fat transfers.
Another area of Dr. Kim’s expertise is thread lifting. This is a non-surgical procedure to regenerate collagen, increase elasticity and decrease the amount of wrinkles in your face. Dr. Kim injects a special type of thread into the dermal layer of the skin that pulls the skin in the desired direction. This can be used to achieve higher cheeks, to remove a double chin, to smooth wrinkles and more. These types of procedures generally have shorter recovery times than those that are invasive surgeries.
Another dermatologist at Renewme Skin Clinic, Dr. Jihyun Ha graduated from the Catholic University of Korea Medical School. She is a member of a number or dermatology associations including those for acne and hair research, laser therapy, skin allergies, chemical peeling research. She speaks both Korean and English so even if you are international, you will likely not need a translator.
Dr. Jihyun Ha is excellent at performing hair transplants. This is a noninvasive procedure where a hair follicles from select parts of your scalp are transplanted to bare spots, typically to restore a hairline or thicken a balding patch. Dr. Jihyur Ha has many years of experience performing this procedure and has perfected the process to minimize scarring and get the best results. She performs two types of hair transplants: strip harvesting and follicular unit extraction. No matter which procedure she does, she takes her patient’s concerns into consideration to form the best treatment plan possible.
Dr. Kyungkook Hong is the director of the Apgujeong branch of the Hus-hu Dermatology Clinic. He received his Doctorate from the School of Medicine at Kyunghee University and is a member of numerous dermatology associations. His clinic offers a number of services but is especially known for their filler and injection treatments. The first type of filler is hyaluronic acid, or HA filler. The HA filler used in these procedures at Hus-hu Clinic has been recognized as safe by the HA filler headquarters, Restylane and Pacifica Parma. These fillers are available for changing the shape of the nose, the cheeks and nasolabial lines, the forehead and chin and the under-eyes and lips.
The other type of filler Dr. Hong uses in these procedures is JUVEDERM filler. This filler has a different molecular structure than the HA filler and leads to natural-looking results and a smooth texture. However, Dr. Hong will be able to determine which filler is best for you based on your individual aesthetic preference and skin type.
- Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy is sometimes a controversial topic, especially in the United States, but in Korea it is available for a number of dermatological treatments. Stem cells are cells that have the potential to develop into nearly any different type of cell in the body. This allows the to repair many different parts of the body. There are two types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells, which are from human embryos, and adult stem cells, which are present throughout the body after development to replenish dying cells and to repair damaged tissue.
The leading dermatology clinic in Seoul for stem cell therapy treatment is the Amoa Skin Clinic. This clinic is an excellent location for specialized dermatological procedures. It is also a great place for foreigners to receive their treatment because doctors and staff speak, or have native translators available for Korean, English, Mandarin, Turkish, Russian and Spanish.
The dermatologists at Amoa Skin Clinic provide some of the most high-tech treatments available, including stem cell therapy. In dermatology, stem cell therapy is used for anti-aging treatments. In these procedures, stem cells are injected into specific parts of your face to regenerate those areas for a fuller, more youthful look.
The stem cells are injected into the skin’s dermis layer, the thickest, second layer of the skin. This is done using a variety of methods, each depending on the specific area and the goal of the stem cell injection. Stem cells can be used to moisturize, to clear up acne, to lift and lighten the skin and to sooth and lift the skin. Which combination is best for you will be determined at your primary consultation at the clinic.
The Amoa Skin Clinic also offers dermal DNA testing. This process helps determine the right cosmetics and nutrient solutions for your skin. It also shows the problems that your skin is facing and problems that you are likely to experience in the future. At the end of this process you will be given a customized solution to solve and prevent any issues discovered during the testing.
Overall, the Amoa Skin Clinic is an excellent location for some of the most advanced dermatological treatment.