Illegal Cosmetic Surgery Largely Increasing

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Korean-Americans are increasingly more exposed to illegal medical treatment performed by unlicensed surgeons across Southern California.

Several cases of illegal cosmetic surgery procedures, including lifting, Botox injections and other acupuncture techniques have been reported in recent months.

Some skincare businesses are reportedly performing surgeries without required licenses, simply by hiring specialists and laser equipment. Illegal surgeries are often held at individual’s homes, making them difficult to involve law enforcement.

Legally approved cosmetic surgery clinics in L.A. say that approximately 10 patients visit their facilities on a daily basis due to a side effect from illegally performed surgeries. Considering there are about 20 Korean cosmetic clinics in and around L.A., the victims of illegal surgeries are believed to be somewhere in the hundreds. Most of the victims are suffering from facial paralysis, headache and skin irritation.

“It has already been medically proven that lifting has no positive effect on the patient,” said Kenneth Kim, a cosmetic surgeon. “It’s very dangerous to insert a substance without taking into consideration the structure of the skin and its cells. Anyone may be able to perform a surgery, but the specialists are the ones who can also solve problems that come from side effects. That’s why illegal procedures are dangerous.”

Botox injections and laser treatments are also considered medical practices. No unlicensed medical practitioner is allowed to perform such duties.
“Medical specialists often check the patient’s medical history and allergic conditions before choosing to opt for a surgery,” a cosmetic surgery employee said. “When the operation itself is illegal, those types of background check could be bypassed.”

The problem is that it is vastly difficult to crack down on the illegal cosmetic surgeries.

“There is a grey area as only licensed surgeons who commit unlawful activities are subject to penalty given by our organization,” said the California Acupuncture Board (CAB). “So even when a side effect occurs, there’s no way to compensate the patient.”

Former Medical Hani chairman Gap-bong Kim said: “The general public won’t be able to tell the difference between what is legal and what’s not. That makes it more important for them to listen to expert opinions. Illegal practices could ruin the entire industry. They should be prohibited at all costs.”

By Yeol Jang