Those planning to undergo cosmetic procedures must be aware of the risks, writes Nadia Badarudin

Many are carving a shortcut to beauty with cosmetic surgery. Picture from: Mikhail Malyugin

KIM Jong-in or Kai, the 24-year-old member of K-pop boy band Exo is the perfect poster boy.

With attractive huge eyes, perfect nose and dewy porcelain skin, Kai definitely meets the standard of the ideal K-pop star.

But two years ago, Kai’s picture-perfect looks became the subject of a furore among netizens and fans, with sceptics highlighting obvious bruises which they claimed were the effects of a botched eyelid surgery.

Pictures of Kai prior to his debut surfaced (with inner double eyelids, a round nose etc). Fans started making comparisons with those pictures in which the heartthrob was spotted wearing spectacles as an obvious cover-up. Netizens also believed that he had missed several shows to recover from plastic surgery.

In K-pop, where looks and self-image make or break one’s career, it is no surprise to see the trend of going under the knife (among both men and women) hitting the roof.

Some believed that the popularity of K-pop has inevitably led to the rising trend of people going for cosmetic procedures - to make eyes look bigger or to get the jawbone chiselled down for that so-called ideal V-shaped look. reported that one out of five women in Seoul had undergone some form of cosmetic procedure in 2013.

Last year, the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery released the results of its annual Global Aesthetic Survey for procedures completed in 2016, showing an overall increase of nine per cent in surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures across the globe.

The United States, Brazil, Japan, Italy and Mexico account for 41.4 per cent of the world’s cosmetic procedures, followed by Russia, India, Turkey, Germany and France.

The looks of Kim Jong-In or Kai definitely meets the standard of the ideal K-pop star. Picture from:


Cosmetic surgeries are part of aesthetic medical practice. Aesthetic medical practice is not a medical specialty but an area of interest in medical practice.

The Guidelines on Aesthetic Medical Practice for Registered Medical Practitioners by our Health Ministry defines aesthetic medical practice as “an area of medical practice which embraces multidisciplinary modalities dedicated to create a harmonious physical and psychological balance through non-invasive, minimally invasive and invasive treatment modalities which are evidence-based.”

The modalities or procedures are carried out by registered medical practitioners under the Medical Act 1971 (Act 50).

“Aesthetic medical practice is nothing new and has been around in Malaysia since the 1990s,”says Dr Hew Yin Keat, medical director at MAC Clinic and a founding member and past president of the Malaysian Society of Aesthetic Medicine.

“Although the practice has helped some people to boost their self confidence and image, the public is more likely to discuss the reports or stories of botched jobs and the horrifying looks and complications (including disfigurements and even death).”

“What the public needs to be wary of are bogus procedures done by unqualified people such as beauticians. This is a worrying trend.

“And that’s how the guidelines came into being. It is meant to address the issue as it involves public safety,” says Dr Hew, a representative of the Credentialing and Privileging Committee for Aesthetic Medical Practice of the Ministry of Health, which registers doctors who are competent and eligible to perform aesthetic medical procedures in Malaysia.

Many people are going for cosmetic procedures to look younger. Picture from:Istock


According to the guidelines, aesthetic medical procedures can be classified into non-invasive, minimally invasive and invasive.

Non-invasive procedures are defined as external applications or treatment procedures that are carried out without creating a break in the skin such as superficial chemical peels, microdermabrasion and intense pulsed light.

The minimally invasive procedures induce minimal damage to the tissues at the point of entry of instruments.

The procedures include chemical peel, Botulinum toxin injection or Botox, filler injection (excluding silicone and fat), skin-tightening procedures up to upper-dermis as well as lasers for treating skin pigmentation, benign skin lesions, skin rejuvenation and hair removal.

Invasive procedures penetrate or break the skin through either perforation or incision (often with extensive tissue involvement) by various means such the use of knife, diathermy, ablative lasers, radiofrequency, ultrasound, cannulae and needles.

“n Malaysia, we’re seeing more people, those in their late 30s and 40s, going for such procedures, mainly Botox, fillers and lasers to improve their skin or delay the ageing process. There are also those who go to aesthetic clinics to treat specific problems such as warts or moles,” says Dr Hew.

He says these procedures can only be done by registered medical practitioners that are classified as specialists and non-specialists.

“The specialists include dermatologists and non-dermatologists as well as plastic surgeons and non-plastic surgeons. The non-specialists are basically general practitioners.

“But the general practitioners are only allowed to perform non-invasive and minimally invasive procedures. All the procedures must be performed in a clinic which is adequately equipped,” he says.

It’s important to do thorough research and get a qualified practitioner for the procedure, says Dr Hew Yin Keat. Picture from: NSTP/Nik Hariff Hassan


When it comes to cosmetic procedures, the key is having realistic expectations and being informed about the risks, says Dr Hew.

“The goal is improvement, not perfection. And if the procedure is done to enhance one’s look, what matters is not about looking good but about looking age-appropriate.

“Thus it’s important for one to do horough research and get a qualified practitioner for the procedure,” he says.

Injectibles with Botulinum toxin are the most popular non-surgical procedures. Picture from: Daly


COSMETIC surgeries have risks - which will also be higher for those with a history of cardiovascular and lung disease or diabetes.

Those who are obese as well as smokers face a higher risk of complications and may encounter difficulties during the healing process.

The possible complications include:

- Complications relating to anaesthesia such as pneumonia, blood clots and (rarely), death.

- Infection that may worsen scarring and require additional surgery.

- Fluid build-up under the skin

- Mild bleeding

- Obvious scarring

- Numbness and tingling from nerve damage.

Source: Adapted from Mayo Clinic

Swiss-born American socialite Jocelyn Wildenstein is described as “a poster child for plastic surgery gone wrong.” Picture from: Getty Images


1. Labiaplasty (45 per cent rise in number of procedures from 2015)

2. Lower body lift (29 per cent rise)

3. Upper body lift (22 per cent rise)

4. Breast augmentation (22 per cent rise)

5. Buttock lift (20 per cent rise)

Least popular cosmetic surgery: Penile enlargement

Most popular non-surgical procedures:

Injectibles with Botulinum Toxin (Botox)



Total demand worldwide = 86.2 per cent

Top 5 procedures — Breast augmentation (silicone implant), liposuction, eyelid surgery, abdominoplasty and breast lift.


Total demand worldwide — 13.8 per cent

Top 5 procedures — Eyelid surgery, gynecomastia, rhinoplasty, liposuction and hair transplant.

Source: International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery annual Global Aesthetic Survey for procedures completed in 2016

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