Ugly side of 'beauty package' tourism

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 January, 2007, 12:00am

Consumer Council and plastic surgeons say overseas treatments could be risky

People interested in improving their looks have been warned by the Consumer Council and plastic surgeons about the potential risks of joining cosmetic surgery travel packages.

The caution came after a beauty salon launched a high-profile scheme offering packages to South Korea for cosmetic surgery and engaged a former Miss Hong Kong as its ambassador. Other operators are offering increasingly popular tours to areas such as Thailand for low-cost cosmetic surgery of all types.

Consumer Council deputy chief executive Connie Lau Yin-hing said consumers had to be careful about signing up for such packages.

'It is very important for patients to have face-to-face consultations before surgery. They have to understand the potential side effects very well,' she said.

A council member of the Hong Kong Society of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, Edmund Chan Cho-kwan, said Hong Kong people's acceptance of cosmetic surgery had increased in recent years. But he urged people not to pursue the trend blindly.

'People do not know much about the doctors' qualifications before the trip, which can be very dangerous,' Dr Chan said. 'Also after cosmetic surgery, the patient should see the doctor for follow-up checks, which cannot be offered by an overseas package.'

Beauty salon Be A Lady, which is touting packages to South Korea, has enlisted a former Miss Hong Kong, Natalie Ng, as its ambassador. She flew to South Korea last month for treatment including liposuction and Botox wrinkle-reduction treatment.

A spokeswoman for the salon said it would tailor-make a package for clients who had detailed body checks before departure. She said the response had been good, but refused to disclose the number of clients so far. The spokeswoman said the salon came up with the packages because cosmetic surgery was common in South Korea and the country's plastic surgeons had a wealth of experience.

The spokeswoman said that if there was a medical blunder, the customer would have to seek compensation from the Korean doctors who paid professional indemnity insurance. The salon was not responsible for medical procedures.

Apart from cosmetic surgery packages, theme tours catering specially to dog owners and singles looking for love will also be offered by Hong Thai Travel Services.

Hong Thai general manager Susanna Lau Mei-sze said about 800 singles joined the tours last year, many of whom were now dating. Hong Thai has also invited renowned fung shui master Mak Ling-ling to read the fortunes of dogs as part of the company's hassle-free tours for dog-lovers who wish to travel with their pets.