The Korea Herald


Medical tourism to Korea for plastic surgery, dermatology treatments surges

By Lee Jaeeun

Published : July 2, 2023 - 13:46

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South Korea attracted a record number of 82,000 foreign national patients in 2022, mainly for plastic surgery and dermatological treatments, according to a report on Sunday.

According to the Korea Health Industry Development Institute's "Foreign Patients Attraction Performance Report," only 13.8 percent of the 64,464 foreign national patients in 2009 sought plastic surgery or dermatology. However, by 2022, the figure had more than doubled. Out of 293,350 patients of foreign nationality, 82,374 -- or 28.1 percent -- were seeking these services.

Specifically, the percentage of foreign national patients undergoing plastic surgery rose from 4.4 percent in 2009 to 15.8 percent in 2022. Similarly, the percentage of those seeking dermatological treatments also saw an increase, from 9.3 percent in 2009 to 12.3 percent in 2022.

By country, Thai nationals topped the list of patients of foreign nationality who visited plastic surgery clinics in 2022 with 24.2 percent, followed by those from Japan, China and the United States. Chinese nationals accounted for the greatest number of foreign patients who visited dermatologists, with 23 percent, followed by those from Japan, the United States and Thailand.

Regarding last year's increase in the number of foreign national patients, the Korea Health Industry Development Institute explained it as due to a rise in overseas tourist visits, eased border restrictions and active marketing through social media. “As interest in K-beauty increases, the number of foreign patients visiting plastic surgery and dermatology clinics is expected to continue to increase,” the Korea Health Industry Development Institute said.