Squeamish about plastic surgery? Then you might not want to read this. In South Korea, the beauty industry boomtown with the highest per capita rate of procedures in the world, one surgery in particular is making the jump from an extreme method of correcting facial deformities to a cosmetic fad advertised on subway posters and touted by celebs. And it is definitely not pretty.
Double-jaw surgery, as the name suggests, involves realigning the upper and lower jaw bones, resulting in a dramatically reshaped face. According to the Daily News, it is on the rise in South Korea after multiple stars, possibly paid by doctors, went on television extolling it as a “turning point” in their lives. Even women not wooed by the promise of celeb-endorsed beauty are bombarded by advertisements proclaiming that “Everyone but you has done it,” and asserting themselves as “The double jaw surgery clinic chosen by the pickiest ladies.”
But even though those may sound like slogans for makeup or a new health club, doctors who don’t stand to make loads of cash off of the trend are appalled that double-jaw surgery is being marketed as a cosmetic procedure. One dentistry professor quoted by the paper stressed the dangers of the surgery:
“This surgery alters your look far more dramatically than, say, Botox or a nose job because it changes your entire facial bone structure. But it’s a very complex, potentially dangerous surgery…it’s disturbing to see people with no real dental flaws daring to go through it just to have a small, pretty face.”
Some of the dangers? Paralysis, permanent facial numbness, nerve damage, chronic jaw pain. One study found that 52 percent of patients experienced sensory problems and, in one tragic case, a 23-year-old committed suicide after double-jaw surgery left her unable to chew food or stop crying due to damage of her tear duct.
And if that doesn’t make you sad, this sure will: after all that, some recipients have lost the ability to smile.
For more extreme cosmetic surgery stories, read our interview with the VICE correspondent who sat in on a double-eyelid surgery in Seoul and an, ahem, “ass implant” procedure in Colombia and watch one woman talk about how her eyelid surgery left her unable to close her eyes. Yikes.