Foreign patients in cosmetic surgery plunge due to pandemic

The number of foreign patients visiting Korea for cosmetic surgery plummeted 99 percent in the first half compared to the same period of 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, government data showed.

According to the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) data submitted to Rep. Nam In-soon of the Democratic Party, the number of foreign patient care for cosmetic surgery almost halved from 64,644 in the first half of 2019 to 31,128 in the first half of 2020.

In the first half of 2021, the number fell further to 849, a 99 percent drop compared to 2019. This shows that the pandemic made it difficult to attract international patients for plastic surgery.

Accordingly, the tax refund for cosmetic surgery for foreign patients also decreased from 10.16 billion won ($8.5 million) in the first half of 2019 to 4.74 billion won in the first half of last year, and to 253 million won in the first half of this year.

In the first half of the past three years, the most reimbursed medical service was wrinkle removal with 15,606 cases, followed by skin regeneration/skin whitening/anti-aging treatment/pore reduction with 12,732 cases, double eyelid surgery with 6,992 cases, and rhinoplasty with 3,977 cases, liposuction with 3,489 cases, and breast surgery with 2,673 cases.

“The comparison of the first half of the recent three years showed that the pandemic dealt a serious blow to the foreign patient attracting business,” Nam said.

The number of foreign patients must have plunged because the number of visiting foreigners went down, following the government’s enhanced rule for entry to Korea and each country’s travel restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19, she said.

In the post-Covid-19 era, the nation needs to move away from reliance on cosmetic surgery and improve quality care for seriously ill patients when attracting international patients, Nam noted.

She added that the government needs to include a sustainable and value-creating strategy in the upcoming five-year comprehensive national project to support the medical community’s overseas expansion and attraction of international patients.

Written by Kim Eun-young
According to Koreabiomedical

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