A 35-year-old Hong Kong woman died after falling into a coma during a liposuction procedure this week in a plastic surgery clinic in Seoul, South Korean police said Friday.
“The woman fell into a coma during a beauty operation on Tuesday. She was immediately transferred to a different hospital, where she was pronounced dead,” an officer at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency told the Post.
“Detectives in charge of medical accidents are all busy with this case,” he said, adding a postmortem examination will be conducted early next week to determine the cause of her death.
Dr Ho Chiu-ming, president of the Hong Kong Society of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, said falling into a coma during liposuction, which is regarded as a relatively low-risk medical procedure, usually involves complications related to anaesthesia.
“It might involve allergic reactions or excessive dosage of drugs used in anaesthesia, causing a patient to stop breathing or cause heart problems,” he said. “If something goes wrong in the liposuction procedure instead, complications usually appear hours or days after the operation.”
He warned Hong Kong patients to have good communications with their chosen plastic surgeons in South Korea before proceeding with an operation.
The clinic where the woman died on Tuesday is one of about 500 plastic surgery clinics concentrated in the wealthy Gangnam District in southern Seoul, a centrepiece for medical tourism in South Korea.
A receptionist at one clinic said a liposuction operation aimed at removing fat around the waist typically costs between 1.8 million won and 9 million won (HK$11,769-HK$58,843), depending on the obesity of a patient, which is classified “on a scale of one to nine”.
Statistics from the Korea Health Industry Development Institute showed South Korea hosted 118,310 patients from China in 2018, accounting for 31 per cent of all foreign patients who visited the country that year.
Of those patients, 21.4 per cent had travelled to South Korea for plastic surgery while 17.8 per cent were for skin treatment.
The number of Chinese plastic surgery patients who visited South Korea reached 27,852 in 2018, a 30 per cent jump from 21,477 the year prior.
Tuesday’s death is not the first to have been reported in Gangnam district clinics. In 2016, a 35-year-old Thai woman died during a liposuction and nose job operation, while a 24-year-old South Korean female student lost her life during a jaw bone-cutting surgery at a different clinic.
Hong Kong has also seen its share of plastic surgery tragedies. In 2014, a 32-year-old dance teacher died after undergoing liposuction at the Regrowth Hair Transplant Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui.
In 2012, one woman died and three others suffered serious injuries following blood-transfusion therapy at a DR beauty centre. In 2010, a young woman died during breast-enhancement surgery performed by a doctor whose specialisation was gynaecology.
A spokesman for the Immigration Department said they had contacted the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in Hong Kong and the Chinese Embassy in Seoul to provide assistance to the deceased's family according to their wishes.
This article Hong Kong woman dies after falling into coma during liposuction surgery in South Korea first appeared on South China Morning Post