Asia Minute: Maybe No Plastic Surgery at Korea’s Largest Airport

Oct 27, 2017

Incheon International Airport
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Medical tourism is a booming business across Asia. When it comes to cosmetic plastic surgery, South Korea is a particularly popular destination. But some plans to expand that practice are coming under fire. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

South Korean government figures show foreign visitors seeking medical treatment increased by more than 20 percent last year.

Much of that is elective surgery, and cosmetic in nature.

So from a business perspective, the operator of South Korea’s Incheon International Airport thought it had a good idea to take advantage of that growth trend.

The plan: to establish a clinic for cosmetic plastic surgery—and put it in the airport.

The theory:  patients could get treated and not even need a visa before changing planes.

A 2,500 square foot space was set aside for the clinic with a tentative opening date in January.

Details came out last month in a public filing.

Some initial challenges surfaced when no medical personnel came forward to use the space.

This week, the very idea came under sharp criticism from South Korea’s medical community.

The Yonhap News Agency quoted a document sent to the airport authority by the Korean Association of Plastic Surgeons.

The group wrote:  “We are wondering whether the airport has thought about a situation in which a patient is not able to board a flight after surgery. This could lead to a legal dispute.”

The Korean Medical Association also raised concerns including the potentially unhappy combination of air travel, changing pressure, and recent stitches.