Botox for the Seoul

by Karen Farley, 13/04/2008


I knew I was in trouble when I told a friend my frown lines were becoming very unsightly.

One thing I learned as an expatriate living in South Korea was that beauty is skin deep. On almost every corner, cosmetic surgery clinics and skin care centers advertise youthful looks. Dermatologists and plastic surgeons wait in their pristine lab coats with clients lined up for routine exams, sitting in chairs with brochures on the latest skin treatments. Signs displaying youthful men and women with compelling slogans such as “A Beautiful You,” “Happy Face”and“New You “attract clients into their busy offices.

Around the corner from our apartment was a building with several signs showing the English words “skin” and “clinic.” I walked into one of the “clinics” and asked for information on Botox. Quickly, the receptionist ran to get the doctor. What I thought was a place to obliterate my lines was actually a medical clinic for some sort of suction procedure designed to make me “A New You.”

The next day, I met my friend for coffee. What was I thinking? Botox?
She assured me it was safe and everyone was doing it. She was on a mission. We drove to the nearest medical center and made the appointment. Being a foreigner, I seemed to get the attention of the staff in the plastic surgery department.  I was sure they were thinking, “This should be interesting.”

After several consultations and being offered options for removing my “frown,” a gracious doctor made a phone call down to dermatology. Not wanting to take the option of reconstructing my entire forehead, I was immediately ushered in and instructed to lie on the table. This was happening too fast. All those years of telling my sister “you will end up looking like those movie stars without emotions,” I was the one under the needle.

“Is that it? My frowning days are over? Could it be that simple?”

We left the exam room and headed for the cashier. I even received a “foreigner’s discount.”

In a matter of days, I looked twenty years younger, well maybe five. My friend was so excited she called her mom and sister and got them appointments.  My friends and family back home were surprised by my quick decision to become a “new you.”

Well, that was a year ago. Our assignment ended in March of 2007 and I am back in our hometown of Columbus, Indiana. I have adjusted to life back in the states and accepted the aging process with grace and a new set of lines.

 It’s amazing what six little punctures can do to a woman’s ego.

I look at before and after pictures and smile at the memory of sitting in the chair watching the doctor draw pictures of my forehead with little x’s across the top and the look on his face when I told him, “Just temporary, please.”

As I look in the mirror and pull back the lines, I wonder, “Do I really want to be a “new you,” or have a “happy face” back home in a country not as obsessed with youthful looks? Not really. But as I look at magazines with youthful pictures on the cover, I think, “Just a little filler to take away the scowl.”

I was in the grocery store the other night. As I was reading the labels on the newest wrinkle cream, I ran into an old friend. “What’s wrong,” she asked. “Are you okay? You look angry about something …”

About the Author:  Karen Farley is currently a freelance writer in Columbus, Indiana. She and her husband, along with their son Zach lived in Bundang, South Korea for two years. She has an appointment with the dermatologist next week to alleviate her “anger.”

photo by: www.healthandbeautyinstitute.com

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