Laser Treatment in Korea

About three years ago, I started to develop adult acne. I tried all of the face washes and what not, and for a while ProActiv was working the best for me. When I moved to Korea, I ordered more ProActiv but it soon became a losing battle. At the beginning of 2011 it was pretty bad. When I moved to Gumi (in August), I decided to explore other options available in Korea. I asked one of my co-teachers for a recommendation for a skin specialist. I went the very next day. I ultimately decided on a 3 month program: a combination of laser treatments (to clear current break outs) and medication (to prevent future break outs).

I had to visit the doctor every other week. Visits 1, 3, and 5 consisted of the actual laser treatments, and visits 2, 4, and 6 were more recovery facials. The first day was very painful, but I have a pretty high pain tolerance. The doctor and nurses complimented/commented on my lack of complaints/sounds of pain. Here’s a general outline of the procedure:

Days 1, 3, 5: Laser Treatment

  1. Eye goggles (like a spa) and then bright red flashes. It’s kind of like a sunburn to remove a layer of skin (I think.)
  2. A cold cream with a numbing effect is rubbed on
  3. A clicking thing that kind of rolls over the face. Each click is like a short electric burst and this leaves laser scabs. (oh so painful)
  4. Gauze on the face, and an ice is bags is rubbed all over (feels good)
  5. Shots in the face (where bad pimples are)
  6. Shot in the bum (if there is a lot of acne break outs)

**After this, my face always looked AWFUL. Bright red, laser scabs, and intense pain…after an ibuprofen (or 2), I stood in front of an air conditioner for about an hour waiting for the pain and redness to subside. For the next three days, I couldn’t wash my face or get it wet. After three days, I was allowed to wash my face but only with cool water. I had to apply a cream (similar to vaseline) specifically for the laser scabs twice a day until they were gone. I had to wait for all of them to fall off (about 6 days) before I was allowed to exercise or wash my face with soap.

Days 2, 4, 6: Facial

  1. A wet sponge with a slight electric current is rubbed over for an extended amount of time (feels good)
  2. With tweezers, every SINGLE pimple is popped (OUCH…I had the most on day 2 and least on day 4)
  3. A thick goopy mask that goes over the eyes and mouth, sits and dries for a few minutes, and then peels off in one layer
  4. Wipe off anything remaining
  5. An electric thing moved over the face; clicks like the one used in laser treatment. It’s painful, but not nearly as intense and it doesn’t leave scabs.
  6. Face cream/lotion

Some side notes:

  • Day One: The doctor also removed my biggest freckles (I had a cluster of 4 on the top of my forehead and one above my upper lip). I requested that he didn’t remove the one on my nose. After a topical numbing cream, I went to another room. It felt like he was rubbing with out with an eraser…but I had holes in my skin when he was finished (they’re gone now).
  • Day Three: I thought he was spending a long time around my eyes with the painful electric thing. Turns out, he removed all of my freckles on my cheeks. I think I would have declined if I had known he was going to do it because it was REALLY PAINFUL.
  • The Bum Shot: In America, I’ve gotten bum shots before. You stand up, cross your legs so that your weight is on one side (the side not receiving the shot), and they just give you the shot. In Korea, I didn’t get any kind of directions on how to stand, and THEN they slapped my butt numerous times before and after the shot (I guess so you don’t notice when it happens?). FREAKING WEIRD. But moving on…
  • Day 4: When I was in between the steps, there was a random child screaming bloody murder down the hallway. I thought he must have been like 5 from the way he sounded. Turns out, he was middle school age and he was getting a wart removed from his hand. I figured out that he was screaming, “I’m too young for this!” LOL

The Results: Well, I ended up getting hives during the first medication (and sometimes I’d wake up with swollen lips). So, I stopped taking it and it helped. The doctor switched me to a second medication (which I used off and on depending on hives). It’s been over a month since my last treatment and last medication. I’m still getting hives almost daily, though (but not nearly as bad). As for my face, my skin is significantly less greasy, my forehead is clear and almost all the black heads on my nose are gone–so that’s awesome. My cheeks still look like they have pimples; however, they are not painful and not as big as before, and I can cover them up with light make up. I was definitely hoping for better results. Oh well….at least there’s an improvement. I think everything together was about $500 USD (including creams to treat the laser scabs).

Would I do it again? Probably? I don’t regret my decision as my face has improved. That said, I really wish the hives would go away and that I hadn’t had such strong allergic reactions to the first medicine. I also wish that there had been a bigger improvement considering the pain I went through…

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4 comments

  1. Jocelyne · · Reply

    Do you recommend it to other people? I also have a pretty high pain tolerance. Because I was planning to get a skincare treatment in Korea. I’m not sure what I really need but I do want smaller pores and less acne. I don’t have super bad acne. Just a few bums here or there that look more like whitehead but I’m not really sure xD. Can you suggest me a good place to go?

    1. To be honest, I’m not sure how strongly I’d recommend it. It’s been over a year now, the ‘worst’ of my acne is gone, but I still have some. When I finished the treatments, I didn’t have perfectly clear skin, either. (Although it was probably better than it is right now.) So, I’d say find a place where you think the price is reasonable. I’d recommend not having the expectation of perfectly clear skin. So, think about how much you would pay to improve your skin by 25%. (That way, you don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Then if your skin improves drastically, you can be even more stoked about it.)

      Pain tolerance is definitely crucial. Also, be ready to avoid the sun and…you’ll probably feel like avoiding people as well. I usually got my sessions in on Friday after work, so that way I could stay in and ‘hide’ on the weekends. The laser, grid-like scabs all over your face…with a layer of clear gel on it…makes you not want to be seen. They don’t start falling off until 3 days…but even then, it’s a slow falling off and of course you can’t scratch them or you risk scarring. Here’s an interesting article from a girl that had acne and she identifies some of them: http://www.thelovevitamin.com/2401/type-of-acne/ There are a lot of places in Korea. I can recommend the place I went to (in 구미- Gumi), but I actually got it on request from a co-worker. I’m sorry I don’t know any other skin places to recommend.

  2. hello! i am looking to do laser treatment in korea, would u recommend me some safe and cheap clinics? they seem to have a rep for charging exorbitant pricing to foreigners

    1. Hi! I don’t have anywhere in particular to recommend. I was living in Gumi, at the time. What I WOULD recommend is having a Korean go with you…the buffer is there. Also, I would pay in cash because you get a discount that way, too.

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