Trends in Korean Plastic Surgery – Now vs. 10 Years Ago.

Worldwide plastic surgery trends change just like beauty and fashion trends change. It’s no different in Korea – which is famously named the “World’s Capital of Plastic Surgery”. Throughout the years there were major changes in the top popular surgeries as well as in the desired aesthetic outcome. There were also surgeries that, despite being a hot topic then, lost much of their popularity now. In this article, we will introduce you to how Korean plastic surgery trends changed over the past 10 years.

What are the most popular plastic surgeries in South Korea now and 10 years ago?

According to the statistics published by the Korean Association of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgeons, there is always one unquestionable leader of plastic surgery in Korea, which is Double Eyelids Surgery. There are more than 400,000 procedures performed yearly with its absolute record set in 2021 with 534,371 procedures. While double eyelid surgery has never been dethroned, there are drastic changes in the top 5 popular procedures. Let’s take a look at the statistics:

Top 5 most popular plastic surgeries 2012

  1. Double Eyelid Surgery
  2. Face Fat Graft
  3. Rhinoplasty
  4. Liposuction
  5. Breast Augmentation

Top 5 most popular plastic surgeries in Korea in 2022

  1. Double Eyelid Surgery
  2. Rhinoplasty
  3. Face Fat Graft
  4. Breast Augmentation
  5. Liposuction

As we can see, according to the statistics, there were major falls in the popularity of Face Fat Graft and Liposuction procedures and their leading positions have been taken by Rhinoplasty and Breast Augmentation. Face Fat Graft, while still being a highly popular and effective procedure, had its prime time in 2008-2012 when an image of a dolly, little puffy, and cute baby face was the most desired outcome.

Park Bom – an example of Korean beauty standard in 2010
Girls Generation were considered the most beautiful K-pop girl-band of 2010

Face fat graft is a procedure that can contribute to this effect. However, if the just right amount of fat cells is injected it is a great method of improving sunken areas on the face and filling the wrinkles and nasolabial folds


This is a before and after photo of our patient who got just right amount of fat grafted into her nasolabial folds and other sunken areas on the face.

These are nationwide trends but how do they look in our clinic? In JW Plastic Surgery the statistics look slightly different, while we receive as many international patients as Korean, therefore the statistics are a little “globalized” with an unchanged, strong position of Breast Augmentation, which is the most common plastic surgery worldwide.

Top 5 plastic surgeries at JW Plastic Surgery Korea in 2012

  1. Double Eyelids Surgery
  2. Rhinoplasty
  3. Breast Augmentation
  4. Facelift
  5. V-line Surgery

Top 5 plastic surgeries at JW Plastic Surgery Korea in 2022

  1. Double Eyelids Surgery
  2. Rhinoplasty
  3. Breast Augmentation
  4. Facelift
  5. Liposuction

There are no major changes over the years in the most popular surgeries in our clinic, except for V-line surgery which drops out of the top, being beaten up by liposuction. It’s caused by a nationwide decrease in v-line surgery popularity as it is a very invasive surgery contributing to considerably more risks than other procedures. While the desire for a small, v-line face still persists, the ideal became more natural and achievable with facial liposuction, lifting, or injections without the need for bone shaving.

This patient got facial liposuction and thread lift which resulted in a smaller and smoother face without touching the bone.

How has the trend changed for each of the most popular plastic surgeries?

Beauty trends change every decade, sometimes even faster. Therefore, the most desired outcome of each plastic surgery changed respectively. The recent trend in every plastic surgery in Korea may be described as “finding the natural beauty”. For double eyelid surgery, even a couple of years ago very high and thick double eyelids were a top desired effect, nowadays more natural outcome is preferred. An outcome that looks and moves like inborn double eyelids. What didn’t change is a desire to have big and open eyes. No wonder, as droopy and heavy eyelids, that cover a significant part of the iris make a person look sleepy and dull. Moreover, it may also be a cause of physical pain as the levator muscles must use more strength to keep the eyes open.

This is a photo of our patient who had ptosis correction to create more open eyes and natural-looking double eyelids.

When it comes to rhinoplasty, a lot changed both for male and female nose correction surgery. For Korean and most East Asian patients, still the most popular is to have the bridge augmentation to make the nose look higher. Bridge augmentation rhinoplasty, also known as dorsal augmentation rhinoplasty, is a surgical procedure that involves the use of implants or cartilage grafts to increase the height or projection of the nasal bridge. This procedure is commonly performed to improve the appearance of the nose and make it look more balanced with the rest of the face. In Korea, rhinoplasty is a very popular cosmetic surgery procedure, and many clinics and surgeons in Korea specialize in this type of surgery.

Black Pink Rose’s nose is on demand amongst Korean women
Many patients aim to have a natural-looking high nose like TWICE’s Sana.

While it is still the most popular type of rhinoplasty in Korea, the preferred type of implants and the outcome changed significantly. Curved and smooth line with slightly upturned tip is still in demand by Korean women who decided to get a nose job. However, the desired height of the nose bridge is much lower, and the tip pinching is no longer attractive. During the consultation, Korean women very often bring photos of Black Pink’s Rose or TWICE’s Sana. Both Korean idols have beautiful noses and it’s hard to tell whether it’s a result of an aesthetic procedure. Such a natural-looking yet beautiful effect is a recent trend amongst Korean women.

Ten years ago, male rhinoplasty was about having a high and straight nose bridge. The trend here also changed a lot. While the desire for a high bridge is present, a perfectly straight nose is no longer considered attractive, unless it matches the face. In 2022 Korean men who came for a rhinoplasty consultation often showed photos of actor Cha Eun Woo and the singer Kim Taehyung, known as a V from the K-pop group BTS. Both these, incredibly handsome men have high nose bridges, but their noses are not perfectly straight. There is a small hump visible and also their nose tips are slightly droopy. As we can see the trend in male rhinoplasty also became more natural. To read more about the trends in male rhinopalsty visit the article by our rhinoplasty surgeon Dr. Suh Man Koon.

Kim Taehyung’s natural nose is what most Korean male patients ask during the consultation.
High and slightly humped nose of Cha Eun Woo is also often asked for.

How to get plastic surgery to be sure that it won’t go out of fashion?

Our advice is simple as can be: Listen to your doctor and do not exaggerate. Overdone plastic surgeries were mainly performed to match current trends. All trends come and go, while natural beauty is classic and always persists. As you can see, the extremely sharp v-line is outmoded. The same happened to a fluffy, puffy dollish face, extremely high double eyelids, and perfectly straight male nose. While an overdone fat graft is not a problem while only 50-60% of injected fat cells survive, the issue looks different if you overdo any other plastic surgeries. Excessively shaved chin bone is impossible to be restored. The same may happen if too much cartilage was removed to make a sharp, pinched tip.

To avoid exaggeration, be sure that the outcome you want to achieve, matches your face’s natural features. An aim of a good and ethical plastic surgeon is to help you achieve the face and body that you feel and look good in. Therefore, it is important to get a thorough consultation, when the doctor cares and asks you in detail about the effect you desire and tells you honestly about what can be achieved and what is really beneficial in your case. Beware of quick and brief consultations and doctors who promise unrealistic effects.

To find a perfect surgery plan for yourself, ask about consultation.