It’s not just Samsung that’s at the forefront of technology in Korea. For years the nation’s dermatologists have been working with the most cutting-edge machinery to treat and perfect skin, and now the founder of Seoul Aesthetic tells Zaneta Cheng why they decided to set up shop in Hong Kong and how personalisation is key when it comes to beauty today.
If Mohammed cannot go to the mountain, then, in today’s world, the mountain can come to Mohammed. This has been the case with Seoul Aesthetic. Legions of Korean beauty devotees have been stuck in Hong Kong for nearly three years without being able to visit their Korean face clinics, spas and dermatologists. Having heard the cry and seen the demand for Korean skin specialists in a city where society places a premium on looks, Seoul Aesthetic opened right in the heart of Central along Wyndham Street to cater to the many women looking for anything from a hydration boost to injectables to laser.
With all the furore that’s been had around Korean beauty products, less has been spoken about the dermatology clinics and spas that go hand in hand with the creams and potions that have been on everyone’s bathroom shelves for the past decade. Backed by an entire nation of beauty fanatics, the doctors at Seoul Aesthetic are bringing their top-of-the-line machines, expertise and years of experience working to Korean standards (where one nascent pimple is enough to send both men and women to their doctors) to Hong Kong.
What made you decide to open a Korean-style aesthetic clinic in Hong Kong?
SA: In Korea, the facials, spas, medical cosmetic injections and lasers are integrated as a whole, but in Hong Kong a lot of the time they’re separated. Say I want to do a lifting laser or thread surgery, in Korea they have both dermatology and plastics because it needs pre-care and aftercare. But here it’s not connected so people might get wrong treatments here and there.
Also, in Korea, by law, all lasers must be handled by doctors but not here. So I’ve seen a lot of cases where patients were not really handled properly by the technicians. But at Seoul Aesthetic, the high-risk machines are handled by doctors and low-risk machines are done by the technicians. So the good thing is that we take care of any complications that occur, even the simplest procedures like hair removal. If anything happens, we can treat the complications so patients can feel safe and we can also educate them and the technicians.
So what are some of these complications that you’ve seen from technicians who maybe have not done it so properly?
SA: Say for hair removal, let’s suppose a patient got a burn, we doctors know how to treat them. But if you’re not medically trained, normally you won’t know if the burn needs to be treated, so it might leave scars or cause other complications as it wasn’t treated in time.
What would you say are the main concerns that people come to you for?
SA: I think the main one would be tightening because most of our patients are in their mid-30s so they’re starting to need help and they’re usually willing to spend. For acne or pigmentation, some people don’t have it, but tightening is a concern that you cannot avoid unless you’re living on the moon.
Let’s talk about the treatments you have for women here at Seoul Aesthetic.
SA: Our clinic isn’t small because I wanted to be equipped with everything, so I’m pretty sure we have some of the best machines and also a wide variety of machines. So let’s say we have a client come in for pigmentation, we have many lasers that can treat pigmentation. We also have a lot of other lasers, each with a different characteristic – one can treat acne, one can treat brown spots and another can treat redness. Lifting lasers as well – I have different machines, some for clients who maybe can’t tolerate pain as well. And actually, I’m planning to get more machines later on because if a patient comes to me, I would hate to tell her to do something else because we don’t have the machine or equipment.
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What differentiates Korean clinics and procedures from ones in Hong Kong?
SA: Korean women go to facialists and dermatologists all the time, so it’s a huge market. Doctors have a huge data of patients so, naturally, their skills will improve and they have massive experience. And because we have so much competition, we try to improve the minor things like how to make our clients more comfortable or make the procedure less painful. So it’s more like a bespoke programme from clients in Korea.
In Hong Kong, it’s more consulting to sell stuff. Doctors just do the procedure, they don’t design anything for the clients. But at Seoul Aesthetic, if the patient tells us their need or gives us any suggestions, we can create a detailed plan for them. It’s bespoke.
You mentioned how Korean women have really high standards when it comes to beauty clinics and dermatologists – could you give me some examples?
SA: One is the service. From the moment you walk in, to when you leave, it’s all very smooth and the environment is also very clean. Also, normally good dermatology clinics will have a lot of machines and services to provide. Then, as for techniques, if a client comes in saying a treatment isn’t effective, I’ll take a look and try to convince her to try one more time. In a lot of cases, I actually manage to treat [the problem], so it’s back to what I was mentioning in the beginning how a lot of technicians are scared of causing complications, so they don’t use enough energy sometimes.
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What are some of the most popular treatments in Korea and how do they differ from the ones in Hong Kong?
SA: Surgery is really popular in Korea. I’m a licensed certified plastic surgeon in Korea so I did a lot of surgeries like
eye bags, double eyelids, nose, even facelifts. But Hong Kong people aren’t really open-minded when it comes to surgery, so I had to adjust to more non-invasive procedures and ones that are less painful and require a shorter healing period. Like, being more gentle with the procedure and making it simpler to avoid bruising. Korean women want dramatic changes but here, not really, so I have to adjust my skills.
What are some of the skincare trends from Korea that you’ve seen translate to Hong Kong?
SA: Before in Korea you would see people on the streets with identical faces – big eyes, V-shape faces, apple cheeks and dolly foreheads. Nowadays, it’s becoming more personalised and just enhancing their own features so they look unique and not just like some pretty actress.
As for Hong Kong, I don’t have a lot of very young clients but the trend seems to be just keeping their face young. Like clients would come to me and ask me to make their eyes younger or remove the eye bags or second skin. People here aren’t very open-minded in comparison to people in Korea – they’re only interested in lasers or machines.