The number of foreign patients visiting Korea for cosmetic surgery fell 99 percent in the first half compared to the same period of 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to government data.
According to data from the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) submitted to Rep. Nam In-soon of the Democratic Party, the number of foreign patients treated for cosmetic surgery has almost halved, from 64 644 in the first half of 2019 to 31,128 in the first half. of 2020.
In the first half of 2021, the number fell further to 849, a 99% drop from 2019. This shows that the pandemic has made it difficult to attract international patients for plastic surgery.
As a result, the cosmetic surgery tax refund for overseas patients also decreased from 10.16 billion won ($8.5 million) in the first half of 2019 to 4.74 billion won in the first half. of last year, and 253 million won in the first half of this year. year.
In the first half of the last three years, the most reimbursed medical service was wrinkle removal with 15,606 cases, followed by skin regeneration/skin whitening/anti-aging treatment/pore reduction with 12,732 cases, double eyelid surgery with 6,992 cases and rhinoplasty. with 3,977 cases, liposuction with 3,489 cases and breast surgery with 2,673 cases.
“The comparison of the first half of the past three years showed that the pandemic has dealt a serious blow to overseas patients who attract business,” Nam said.
The number of foreign patients must have plummeted as the number of visiting foreigners decreased, following the government’s tightened rule for entering Korea and each country’s travel restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19, said she declared.
In the post-Covid-19 era, the country needs to move away from reliance on cosmetic surgery and improve the quality of care for critically ill patients when attracting international patients, Nam noted.
She added that the government must include a sustainable and value-creating strategy in the next comprehensive national five-year plan to support the expansion of the overseas medical community and attract international patients.