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Covid-19 kills demand for plastic surgery: survey
  • By Choi Gwang-seok
  • Published 2020.05.25 12:24
  • Updated 2020.05.25 13:34
  • comments 0

The new coronavirus pandemic hit medical institutions in general and plastic surgery clinics in particular, a survey showed.

The Korean Aesthetic Surgery & Laser Society (KASLS) recently held a news conference to announce the results of its survey on how Covid-19 affected the business of plastic surgeons.

The online poll asked 593 members of KASLS from April 7 to April 20.

The survey showed that almost all of the respondents, or 95.1 percent, said their plastic surgery clinics suffered a revenue decline in the first quarter, compared to a year earlier. Only 4.9 percent said their services were unaffected.

The largest proportion of the respondents, 24.6 percent, said their sales dropped 30 to 39 percent year-on-year, followed by those with 20 to 29 percent revenue decline. Another 13 percent said their sales plunged over 50 percent, and 10.9 percent said 40 to 49 percent.

The plastic surgeons cited “fewer patient visits for consultation” (64.5 percent) as the most significant reason for a revenue decline, followed by “cancellation of visits by existing patients” with 25.1 percent.

Ki Mun-sang, president of the Korean Aesthetic Surgery & Laser Society, speaks during a recent news conference.

A slide in the number of foreign patients also contributed to lower sales. Among 456 respondents who provided services for foreigners, 74.6 percent said they suffered a decline in the number of international patients.

The Covid-19 outbreak also changed employment in the plastic surgery industry. Although 60.4 percent said their workers' employment status has not changed, 25.7 percent said they made their employees take unpaid vacations due to reduced revenues. Some recommended workers to leave the clinic, provided paid vacation, or encouraged staff to turn from full-day to part-time work.

Many respondents cited labor costs, rental fees, and anxiety about Covid-19 infection as the biggest concern. They said even if the Covid-19 crisis ends, they would still need some time to go back to normal.

However, KASLS President Ki Mun-sang said almost all businesses, including medical institutions and plastic surgery clinics, seemed to be rebounding after the National Assembly election in April.

Still, the plastic surgery industry needed more time to recover fully. “A majority of 53.4 percent said they expected medical institutions needed over six months to normalize completely. We still have a long way to go normal,” Ki said.

Ki urged the government’s support for plastic surgery clinics hit hard by Covid-19.

“One of our members temporarily closed the business after a confirmed patient visited the clinic. After a two-week closure, the member had to pay for labor costs and renting fees,” he said. “These places desperately need support. I hope the authorities could select those in need the most to ease conditions for loans or reduce taxes.”

Ki also felt sorry about some plastic surgery clinics’ marketing to encourage people to spend the government’s emergency Covid-19 relief money to get plastic surgery. Most other clinics do not engage in such marketing, he emphasized.

“It is an individual’s choice to decide where to spend emergency relief money. It is unfair to say spending it on plastic surgery is wrong,” he said. “The government allowed it to be used for both reimbursable and non-reimbursable medical services.”


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