And it shows. Koreans not only have beautiful faces but flawless skin, as well, thanks partially to their use of elaborate, systematic skin care regimens and regular visits to the dermatologist.
Envious of their porcelain skin, I decided to pay an overdue visit to the skin clinic. After a quick search on the internet, I found TengTeng Skin Clinic located in Sinsa-dong, the mecca of cosmetic surgery. TengTeng offers both medical services and cosmetic procedures, the most popular being the Ellipse FotoFacial Treatments and Fraxel laser treatments.
Unlike most medical centers in the West, TengTeng's reception area and staff are extremely welcoming. They are also used to working with international patients, so they speak English quite well. Services are very affordable, with the doctor's consultation fee set at only ₩10,000.
Although I had met Dr. Julius Jon previously for a skin check-up, I was once again reminded of his professionalism. In addition to being completely fluent in English, he also understands and is familiar with skin disorders of a variety of skin types. These two characteristics make him a great doctor for foreign expats living in Korea or for travelers looking to have some work done while in Seoul.
During our consultation, Dr. Jon was quick to point out my rosacea, a skin disorder that causes constant redness and flushing (and an inability to hide one's embarrassment or bashfulness!), a diagnosis that I had always assumed but never had confirmed. He recommended a series of glycolic acid peels, a procedure in which a chemical agent is applied to the skin to remove layers of skin so that newer, healthier skin cells can surface. In the process, blemishes and other imperfections are peeled away. I was a bit nervous, having flashbacks to that episode of Sex and the City when Samantha's face turns lobster red after having the same procedure, but Dr. Jon assured me that he rarely saw any bad side effects.
My general impression of Dr. Jon after the consultation was that although he's very no-nonsense and gets straight to the point without much small talk, he knows his stuff. Future patients are encouraged to write down your questions and concerns beforehand to have them ready to ask during the consultation.
I was to have my first peel after our talk and a nurse led me to the treatment room- a small area that felt more like a comfy bedroom than a clinic. The nurse cleansed my skin with a topical solution then performed a deep cleanse with a metal spatula-like mechanism that sent electrical pulses into my pores. It felt strange, but it wasn't at all uncomfortable.
Next, Dr. Jon entered the room to apply the chemical agent by hand. For about 30 seconds following the application, my skin burned, a sensation similar to that experienced after getting a bad sunburn. The nurse applied a cooling agent, which provided immediate relief, and then shone a light on my face for about five minutes. The peel was followed by the application of moisturizers and a thick clay mask, which was kept on for twenty minutes.
The process was easy, quick and hassle-free. After the procedure, I noticed some increased redness and my skin felt quite tight, but this subsided after a day or two. In fact, the procedure required no downtime at all.
I returned two weeks later to repeat the process. Afterwards, I noticed the same results. Although the two peels didn't seem to help all that much with the rosacea, my skin did feel noticeably softer and some of the fine lines -- I refuse to use the "w" word -- around my eyes and mouth seemed to diminish a bit.
I have a feeling that curing my rosacea is going to be a long and lengthy process. Fortunately, I've found a doctor who I can trust to work with me through it all.
More Information: TengTeng Skin Clinic
Address: 10th Floor, First Avenue Building, 1-1 Nonhyeon-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Phone Number: 02-337-4066
Hours of Operation: Mon 10am-7pm; Tues 1-9pm; Thurs 1-9pm; Fri 10am-7pm; Sat 10am-5pm; Closed Wednesdays, Sundays and national holidays
Price: Consultation fee ₩10,000; Glycolic Chemical Peel ₩70,000/session; Fraxel Laser Treatment ₩130,000/session
Website: Click Here
Make an Appointment: By phone or e-mail
How to Get There: Walk straight out of exit 2 of Sinsa Station (Seoul Subway Line 3). Teng Teng Skin Clinic is located on the 10th floor of the First Avenue Building. (Look for the pharmacy on the first floor.)
Disclaimer: Although the medical services mentioned in this post were provided free of cost by TengTeng Skin Clinic, the opinions are, of course, my own.
Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.