My Plastic Surgery Journey in Korea – Part 1/2

Getting a double eyelid is a tiny dream I’ve had since 16. My mum has it but my sis and I don’t. So I finally decided after procrastinating for so many years. I am glad that the planning did not turn out as complicated as I thought it would be. If you are like me who is lazy, you probably should consider engaging an agency to help you. In part 1, I will talk about my experience with DocFinderKorea.

DocFinderKorea is a Medical Tourism agency in Korea, they exist to help ease the inconveniences you might have from day 1 to the end of your journey.

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Many people are curious about the procedures and they asked me a lot of questions. I will try to be as detailed as possible.

Let me walk you through step-by-step

DocFinderKorea can be engaged via docfinder@naver.com

The conversation started with an enquiry email about the surgery fees, I also attached a photo of myself in the email for online assessment. Their rate of response is quite impressive, they will get back to you within 3-4hours.  They converse well in English. They will not disclose the name of the clinics at the start. This is not the final price as they will give tax refund and may also give a discount.

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They will request for your details. Such as your name in the passport, date of birth, country and phone number. After you provide these details, they will disclose the information of these clinics. Are you able to guess who they are?

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After much consideration, I chose Banobagi‘s non-incisional double eyelid surgery with ptosis correction. The next step is to transfer them the deposit (USD 300) and send them your travel details (arriving and departing date and time). They will send you a link to a portal to see all the before & after surgery photos (I tried to re-access it, but it is broken now).

They will ask whether do you have a preferred doctor, it is ok if you don’t, they will recommend. They will make an appointment with the clinic on your behalf according to your schedule (at least this is what they told me).

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So what happened was.. ×they changed my schedule. What I requested fits perfectly into how I want to spend my day but this change brought me inconveniences as I have to drag my heavy luggage around waiting for check-in (13:30). I guess when you are not a rich customer that spends a lot, you get pushed back.

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On the actual day 29th of March, DofinderKorea provided a free airport pick-up to my Airbnb accommodation. The driver dropped us at the ×wrong location, about 2 streets away from the correct address. Finding the location isn’t the difficult part, I mean google map is very useful but the cold wind is not a joke.

All aside, on administration part, DocFinderKorea opens a group chat on WhatsApp (you can use another app) to communicate with me. These are the reminders and things to take note before surgery.

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At about 1430, Kate arrived below my Airbnb apartment. Kate is the road manager aka Nanny who will take care of all your needs throughout the entire journey. So she picked me up (together with my boyfriend and my mum) to Banobagi via taxi and yes it’s free.

Consultation with Banobagi

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So Banobagi’s building has several storeys, the operation room is located in the basement. I waited in the lobby at level one for them to call my name. They brought me to level 2 for consultation but Dr Lee was extremely busy I almost waited for an hour beyond my appointment time. So in between, there are other helpers who will talk to you regarding the fees and the mode of payment. The doctor is not the one discussing with you the type of eyelid you want because they are very busy. After I have made my payment and discussed on the type of eyelid (I picked tapered – in out fold which is narrow at the start and wider at the back), I will have to change my outfit into the surgery robe and the waiting game begins again……..

Finally I saw Dr Lee but the brief consultation with him was in haste. The consultation wasn’t a sloppy one (Dr Lee has good judgement and he is very confident) but as a paying customer, I still hope that they can spend a little bit more time on explanations and provide more suggestions.

In the surgery room

It’s my first time going into an operation room. The room is packed with beds and equipment. Rooms are partitioned with movable hospital curtains. On my way in, the nurse told me not to look into other surgery room in case I am gross out by the bloody scene, she also used her folder to block my vision.

So I was given local anaesthetic and they also put me to sleep (not a deep one). I can feel my eyelids are being stretched. It’s a very weird feeling. Half of my brain was aware that I am having surgery and the other half of my brain was dreaming. The nurse woke me up, led me to a corner with a bed and gave me an ice bag. Then I fell asleep again. Kate waited outside until I felt better and was able to walk, then she brought me back to my accommodation via taxi again, yes it is free.

This is how swollen my eyelids are on Day 0.

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And this is the free pumpkin juice and medication DocFinderKorea provided

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Stitch removal and my last day in Seoul

I had my stitches removed on the 5th day after my surgery. I only have two knots, one at each eye so the removal is not painful but I do feel a bit of pain when the nurse try to pull it out from my skin.

On my last day, DocFinderKorea provides free airport transport from my accommodation but I forgot about it. The whole trip is quite packed, I flew to Jeju after my surgery and I went to Seokcho after I had my stitches removed. So most of the time I wasn’t in Seoul. The thing that upset me is that DocFinderKorea ×did not send me a gentle reminder about the pick-up, they did not even tell me the time of pick-up throughout the whole preparation. I have to check-out by 12 pm and my flight home is past midnight. It feels like after I am done with my surgery, they don’t really care about me. Furthermore, in the WhatsApp chat they ×blamed me for not telling them that I took an airport train myself.

Q&A

How much is the cost of the surgery (after tax deduction and discount)?

Ans: [Non-incisional Double eyelid surgery & Ptosis correction = KRW??]  [10% discount=KRW??] = KRW2,826,166 (SGD3635.98) + [Bank transfer of deposit USD300 = KRW341,834 = SGD477.18 (includes cable charges, bank commission, currency exchange, agent’s bank charges) ]  [Tax refund = KRW220,000 = SGD280

In short, I spent SGD3,833.16 for the surgery.

How would I rate the service provided by DocFinderKorea?

Ans: One thing I am sure is that they recommend reliable clinics to their customers. They are multi-linguistic so communication is never a problem. But when it comes to aftercare services, my experience with them is not pleasant. So I will give them 3.9/5

Banobagi is fine. The nurses are nice and attentive. They will keep reassure you that everything is going to be ok.

Is the surgery painful?

Nope. Not at all. Unless you are afraid of needles. But the moment when I have to open my eyes after the surgery is done, I felt huge resistance brought by the swelling of the eyelids. This will cause some discomfort and in my own words, it is a bit painful. The anesthetics made me feel nauseous and dizzy, this feeling is worst than the pain.

Drop me a comment if you have any questions.

If you are interested in my recovery process, you can read part 2/2 here (in progress).

 

I travel a lot doesn’t mean I am rich

Background

I consider myself as a low-maintenance girl. I don’t go for branded, I don’t club, I don’t really shop and most of the time I go hiking and jogging. I spent most of my money on food, skin care products, and of course travelling. But I don’t usually travel multiple times a year, I make it a point such that when I travel I will be away at least a month. Last year like any fresh graduates, I faced problems like unemployment, sudden loss of freedom, fear of moving on and absolutely no idea what I want in my life. 

I started traveling one month after completing my internship which happened to be my last assignment in university. I had less than SGD 1,000 in my bank account after purchasing all the air tickets and the United States Visa cost me SGD 220. The places I have to go are Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and the United States. So I borrowed SGD 3,500 from my parents (I have paid off this loan). Given that I have no study loan to pay but I do have a Tuition Grant Agreement with Singapore where I have to work for 36 months locally which will commence 3 months after I graduate. 

Hong Kong and Taiwan are sponsored trip by Hong Kong Tourist Board (find out how I win the trip here) which is totally unexpected. Korea and the United States are my graduation trip destinations (Leave a comment below if you are interested to know how I spent SGD 3,500 in the United States for 50 days across 6 states).

So basically, I was unemployed and I had less than 1k in my bank account. I have to sustain myself for 57 days overseas (7 days in Hong Kong and Taiwan).

Dealing with conflicts

Guilt is an unavoidable emotion in my situation here (parents expectations, peer pressure, and social expectations). I faced a lot of negative responses which are not necessary disapproving but they are discouraging.

Some people told me that I should use this period of time to do something which they deemed as more “appropriate” such as looking for a job or maybe upgrade yourself. They listed out the reasons why I shouldn’t go and I came out with one and the only reason to counter it.

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The logic given by them is that I should be financially secured and make plans for the future before thinking about going to “play”. To them, the safe and correct stages of life should be:

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There is nothing wrong with the sequence of these stages and definitely nothing wrong with following this Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) if this is what you want in life. But if this not what you want, have you ever thought about taking affordable risk in your life? Have you tried to stop worrying about what comes next and live in the moment instead? These are the questions I kept asking myself last year. 

People who stop you from doing something are injecting their fear and negativity in your life because these are the risks they dare not take.

 

Know your risk

The opportunity cost for travelling is that I will miss the golden period to find a job as no one quits at the end of the year. I will face job competition with the new batch of graduates next year. I will be broke and jobless when I’m back. My friends will be employed and living the life the way society expect them to be. I would probably feel depressed because I am falling behind in life.

You have to prepare yourself mentally for all the possible setback when you are back from travelling. Despite all the negative prediction by the majority, I decided to spend my savings and hit the road.

Not all who wander are lost

People travel for different reasons. Other may travel for business and leisure but I travel to find peace. I travel so that I appreciate what I have and reflect on things which I take for granted. I travel to try new things, such as food and activities not available at home. I travel to get lost so that I can find ways to get back to my destination and it helps to build my confidence. More importantly, I travel so that I understand different ways of life.

I was having dinner at a quiet town call Oakhurst, an hour drive away from the entrance of Yosemite National Park. I had my dinner in this small and shabby restaurant which sells Korean-Japanese food. The owner is a Korean who can speak Mandarin, Korean, and English. During my meal there, a middle-aged man walked in and requested for food. He is mentally challenged but he waited patiently outside the restaurant as if it is a normal routine for him. The owner told us that she give the left over to the homeless man every day (I saw the food given to him, it was filled with rice, meat, and vegetables) and I asked her why. She said because it is the right thing to do and how much can a bowl of food cost? This reminds me of a quote “remember your humanity, and forget the rest”.

I learn something new every time I travel. 

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Home sweet home

Back home safely in mid-October 2015. Emptied my luggage and sorted out my photos. If you ask me whether have I found out what I want in life? My answer is nope. At least I came back with a positive mind and better idea of what work ethics is. 

Currently

I worked 2 months in a start-up company (November to December) and I realise that isn’t what I want to work for. Subsequently, the job market got better and I received a number of calls from the companies I was interested in. Landed a job in an MNC. I can’t provide a definite answer whether do I like what I am doing now as I am still new in the workforce, there’s a lot for me to explore and experience. 

The thing is no one knows what future holds. If I have chosen to stay instead of travelling, I might be ended up in odd jobs while seeking for permanent employment. I wouldn’t be happy and I would probably still feel lost. 

Don’t let others tell you what to do. Follow your heart and have faith. In the end, those who provide suggestions/create noise will not be responsible for your life.  

-End-

Korea Eyelash Extensions

Best place to transform yourself? South Korea! Other than eating and shopping you should seriously consider getting a transformation. I got my haircut and hair dyed in Korea! The price is half of Singapore’s salon and the quality is FANTASTIC. Totally worth the time and money!

Other than hairdo, my friend introduced me this shop call Eyelash Glory (해맑은 속눈썹)  in Bucheon where she saw the video from EatYourKimchi. The shop owner is amazing, she did my eyelash extension in less than 30 minutes!

This is the look after I did my eyelash extension. I chose the middle length (there are 3 different lengths to choose from) and it looks very natural.

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Pros: 

Cost: 50,000 KRW (as of June 2014) ≈ SGD60

Speed: Less than 30 minutes

Variety: 8-13mm

How long does it last: Handle with care, at least 2 months

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Location: Bucheon is far from city center (reference to Seoul Metro Station). The shop is a bit hard to find as it is in the middle of the neighborhood.

Remedy: Take Metro and alight at Bucheon Station. From there take taxi to 1168-1 Jung 1(il)-dong, Wonmi-gu,Bucheon-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea.

Normally the GPS in the taxi find the location using telephone number. So you can provide tel: 657-9511.

 

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The shop looks like this and it is very near to Bucheon Subway station.

So taking a taxi is very cheap. The locals there do not understand English as I tried to ask for direction.

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station map

The circle in Pink indicates the distance from Seoul subway station to Bucheon Station. It will take slightly more than an hour. 

Bucheon itself is like a small town. There are shopping malls and street foods there. So it is worth exploring if you want to try something different, unlike typical tourists.

If you can think of anywhere else that does eyelash extensions really well or you want some more information about this place, feel free to leave a comment below. 🙂

What you need to know before and after you pop a pimple

I would be lying if I said I have never popped a pimple on my face before. But other than a scar left behind from Chicken Pox, there isn’t any dent/crater/hole left behind from pimples and acnes. I do have faint marks from previous pimples and acnes. Just like any mosquitoes bite, it will slowly fade away. The crucial ingredient here is to be patient.

I do have the urge to squeeze or pop that annoying and ugly pimple on my face. It will be good if you can hold your urge and wait for the right time to do so – ripe pimple. A ripe pimple has pus and the one with redness, swelling and no visible sign of pus indicates that it is not ready yet.

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Before

That’s assuming it’s a ripe pimple. Prepare tissue/facial cotton, a pimple extractor and face wash. Damp the cotton pad with hot water and place it on top of the pimple for 3 mins. This will help to open up the pores and allow easy extraction of head or pus. Alternatively, you can steam your face to open the pores.

Tips: Best time to pop a pimple when you are going to wash your face (waking up or going to bed)

After

Clean the remaining impurities from the pimple using tissue/facial cotton and wash it immediately with your face wash (bacteria will spread to other area if you do not wash it). Pat dry your skin and apply Toner or Activator on the pimple using a facial cotton (spot treatment) and leave it on until the cotton pad has dried up. The purpose is to calm your skin and clean away any remaining bacteria.

Finally, keep you hands away from the area. Repeat the steps from washing to applying toner/activator. You will slowly notice that it is healing. Be patient as it normally takes about few weeks for it to heal thoroughly. I had one that took me 2 months to subside. So be patient.

Author’s recommendation

I will recommend the use of Aloe Vera Activator. I have been using it for more than 10 years and it is really effective as a cleanser. Aloe Vera Activator gives you the extra boost in cleaning your skin after washing your face. It also helps to speed up the recovery process. My steps are simple:

  1. Face wash
  2. Aloe activator
  3. Toner
  4. Essence
  5. Moisturizer

How to choose a face wash and how to wash your face properly?

Thinking back on how my first face wash damaged my skin, I wish I had better access to information online. Sadly back then search engine was not well-established 😦

I have come a long way to realize what is good for your skin and what’s not and I still have so much to learn. So one thing at a time, I will share with you how to select face wash in this post (toner and moisturizer for next time >.<)

Selection

Where do you normally purchase your face wash? Drug stores? Watsons, Unity or Guardians? Do you get so overwhelmed by the products available?

Sadly there is no short cut in selecting the right face wash.

  1. You have to research on the product such as reading the reviews (beware of social media influencers) and please don’t believe all the good reviews you have read. Reason being everyone’s skin is different.
  2. Make purchases. You have to try out in order to know. And yes you have to keep trying. I can suggest a better way. Walk into Robinsons, Isetan or John Little where they have those cosmetics booths. Approach the brand you are interested and ask for free samples. Tell them you are searching for face wash and have never tried their product before. 
  3. The next important step is to try it! A good face wash should be able to clean away the dirt and oil on your skin yet making sure that your skin is not dry. It should not strip off your face oil entirely.

One simple trick: your face should not feel tight after washing it with the face wash. Tight sensation indicates that the face wash has strip off too much face oil from your skin, making it very dry.  

Please change the face wash if you are having this problem. Keep trying samples until you find the suitable face wash that makes your skin clean, fresh and bouncy after wash.


The Method

Let’s cut the chase. Google will tell you

  1. Wash in lukewarm or cold water. Never wash your face in hot water.
  2. Even Michelle Pan tells you to massage your face with face wash in a circular motion. Making circles move outward from the center of your face and especially t-zone, the area that can produce more oil, and also don’t forget your jawline and hairline where you may have sweat.

But everyone is missing out one important information – Make foam. I am not talking about foam cleansers. Water-soluble cleansers can make foam too. All you need is a foaming net. You can DIY one too.

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Foam gives you a good texture when applied on your skin. Foam formed is fine and seeps into your pore easily without enlarging your pores. It cleans deeply which helps to reduce breakouts.

This is one important step you have to do before massaging the product on your face! Lastly, pat dry your face with a towel. Do not rub your face with a towel. And.. you are done! 🙂

What you need to know about acne cream and why it is bad for your skin.

Not to brag or sell anything. I’ve always been known as the girl with good skin complexion among my friends. You would probably think that it’s my genes that got me this far but I have my hard times dealing with blackheads, pimples and acnes too. It was during the time where adolescent children go through biological changes. It is call puberty! Yea, and it screws me up.

To tell the truth, my looks bother me when I found a significant amount of pimples and acnes on my face. Back then I bought my first Acne Cream Oxy 10 from Watsons. I was amazed by the effect. After 2 applications, my pimples and acnes shrank and dried up. Woah, what kind of sorcery is that! However, a few days later I found them back again. It does not solve the root of the problem. Furthermore, acne cream leads to dehydrated skin.

Dehydrated skin has a chain of implication on your face complexion.

  1. It makes your skin oily.
  2. Pores clog easily which means more pimples, blackheads and acnes.
  3. Sensitive skin which can lead to allergy reaction.

Let’s take a look at the general ingredients found in acne products.

  1. Benzoyl peroxide. It kills bacteria that cause acne. Long term usage will cause skin dryness, redness and skin irritation.
  2. Alpha hydroxy acids. It is used for moisturizing and removing dead skin cells, and improving the appearance of acne scars. Possible side effects are mild skin irritation and redness.
  3. Sulfur. It removes dead skin cells that clog pores and helps remove excess oil. May cause dry skin.

Basically acne products work by killing the bacteria that cause acne inflammation. Remove excess oil from the skin, speed up the growth of new skin cells and the removal of dead skin cells. This speedy process harms your skin in the long run.

It maybe good to use acne products as a short term remedy. But if you are someone who is prone to acnes and pimples, acne products will do you more harm as time goes by! Instead of using acne product which does not solve the root cause, we should prevent acne from growing if not try to reduce it.

In order to do so, we have to understand why do we get acne. Our pores, in our skin contain sebaceous glands. These glands make sebum, which is an oil that lubricates our hair and skin. Most of the time, the sebaceous glands make the right amount of sebum. As our body condition changes (may be due to diet and habits) , our hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands to make more sebum. Pores become clogged when there is too much sebum and too many dead skin cells. Bacteria can get trapped inside the pores and multiply. This causes swelling and redness – the start of acne. Further implication would be pimples, whiteheads and blackheads.

So clogged pores due to excessive sebum produced will trap bacteria and leads to the growth of acne. And by using acne products, it help to kill the bacteria and remove the excess oil and dead skin of the affected area. Do you see a problem with this solution?

Every acne you “killed” does not prevent or stop subsequent acnes from popping out on your face. This is because your face is still consistently producing excessive sebum to clog your pores. The better and sustainable method is to clean away the excessive sebum produced so that your pores do not clog.

So how do we clean our face thoroughly without stripping off the oil on our face and leaving it too dry? I will share more on my next post.

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Woke up with a bloated face in San Francisco Chinatown waiting for my breakfast. No foundation and no make up. I did not even draw my brows. I think I did not comb my hair.. guess I was too hungry. :p

Disclaimer: The situation is based on my personal experience. Everyone has different types of skin. People who have ultra sensitive skin and allergy should consult a doctor.

Adventurous Korea

A once in a lifetime Exchange in South Korea before my life as an university student ends. This post will be divided into 7 portions as I was there for a total of 7 weeks. Each week I’ve encountered a series of unfortunate events and you won’t believe how incredible this whole trip turned out to be. So keep reading. 🙂

The first thing I did when I arrived at Incheon International Airport was to buy a bus ticket to Jongno-3(Sam)Ga. The airport express bus no is #6011 and it cost about KRW 12,000 for a 90 minutes ride. The travel time was about the same as taking the Metro but trust me, train is cheaper. But if you want comfort of having a seat without carrying your luggage, go for their airport express bus.

The guest house I’ve stayed in was GuestHouse Korea. You can visit http://www.guesthouseinkorea.com for more details but I would like to share some photos of the room and the lobby.

1. Faulty Sim card

Imagine a day in Seoul ( I can hardly speak Korean), there is no phone and no connection. I can’t check the google map when I was outside and what if I am lost or lost contact with my friends? On the first day in Seoul, shortly after checking into the guest house, my hp was locked by some security app. It took me a full one day to fix it and my lived my first day in fear with the above mentioned problems.

The next day in Korea, I was ready to purchase a Pre-paid Sim card (KRW 50,000) from GS25 but it was faulty. Among all my friends, mine was the faulty one and the bad news was that the cashier did not give me a receipt and I have forgotten to request for it too. It was midnight and I have to wait till the next morning for help when the host get up. Luckily, after providing all the details about my date and time of purchase, the cashier of another shift was willing to exchange the Sim card for me.

2. Cycling at Han River

Few days later, we decided to cycle at the famous Han River (I have this habit of cycling in the city wherever I go). What amuse me was how beauty conscious the Korean guys are. Most of them are fully wrapped from head to toe. From tights to face mask to cap and sunglasses.  They are really well protected from the sun!

We took the subway to Yeouinaru Station (Line 5 – Purple Line) and exited at Exit 3. Facing the river, we turned right and walk straight, you will see shops and playground and after that you will see a bike rental shop. The ride was definitely the highlight of my first week. The view is fantastic and the path is broad and fun. Many up and down slopes and many greenery to see.

I remember as I was doing a sharp turning to another pavement, my bike hit the curb right beside the narrow pavement which I was trying to move into. Due to my slow reaction time, I was unable to react to the sharp turning and my bike had a head-on collision with the curb. My knees hit the handle and we (my bike and I) flew out and landed on the tall grass (lucky me). The tall grass was so soft and the bike landed nicely beside me. It could have landed on my legs you see, and I probably have to go to the hospital for X-ray. I escaped the bike accident with some bruises on my knees and I flattened the grass patch which was quite embarrassing.

This briefly sums up my first week in Seoul and I have a hard time settling down. It was fun and exciting but what awaits me in the 2nd week really put me in shock. So do come back for the second post soon. 🙂