Where To Get Skin Treatments In Seoul: Lasers, PRP, and Serums Oh My!
In this post, I’ll talk about the treatments I received, how each visit to the dermatology clinic went and at the end there is a breakdown of costs. So, sit back, relax and lets delve into my experience getting a beauty treatment in Korea.
At the end of September I was invited by Seoul Cosmetic Surgery and Banobagi to receive a consultation to talk about some of the dark spots I had noticed more over the past couple of years. I’m pale so freckles are nothing new to me, but some of these spots seemed to have come while I was pregnant or just after giving birth and they just got darker. To be honest, though I’ve lived in Korea for more than a decade, I still find walking into K-beauty shops daunting and really know rather little about what can and can’t be done to make my skin brighter and more youthful looking. I’m not overly interested in super invasive treatments and would just as soon live with my dots, spots and wrinkles, but it’s always good to learn new things from experts and I will never pass up an opportunity to do just that.
Do I want to be the one to decide what my face needs? No, because I don’t have the expertise, but the doctors at Banobagi definitely do. And, with the help of Seoul Cosmetic Surgery as my concierge service I had put myself in a great position to get great service by knowledgeable people. Seoul Cosmetic Surgery is a concierge service that provides everything from airport pickup and drop-off should it be necessary, flight and accommodation arrangement, arranging consultation appointments, negotiate fees for surgery and services rendered and pre and post-op support. Working with a concierge service is a way to increase the odds of being satisfied with procedures and services and Seoul Cosmetic Surgery really goes above and beyond in terms of service and explanation.
Know your strengths and weaknesses. If beauty treatments are NOT something you have in depth knowledge of, or even if you think you do, I still highly suggest having people like Mona Hanson and Dean Seol from Seoul Cosmetic Surgery to help you navigate the clinics here and answer questions with a bit less medical jargon if necessary. They were so supportive throughout the month and a half long process to make me an even brighter, less polka-dotted me!
Along with Mona and Dean, my team included Dr. Jeon In Kyung from Banobagi. I found the doctor to be extremely informative and caring. He was available to answer all of my questions and made sure to spend ample time with me. Along with the doctor, I decided the All in One Therapy would be the best option. This therapy is actually one that is tailored for each individual that walks through the door but can include up to eight lasers and targets all of the issues one could have with skin from spots, dots, and moles to uneven skin tone and acne. The great thing about this therapy is that there is also no down time. Walk in and walk out in the same day… your face may be a bit rosy when you leave, but it’s all worth it. Trust me.
(This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a certain percentage of a sale if you purchase after clicking at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.)
Before the appointment really begins, I was whisked into a small room with a contraption called a Dermavision camera to stick my face in front of. It sort of looked like those big old cameras with the curtain on the back, except inside, the camera lens is facing you rather than facing out. The camera takes a very close up in depth photo of your skin so when we head in to see the doctor, he has a very good idea of what is going on and what needs to be done.
September 21, 2018
October 5, 2018
October 19, 2018
November 2, 2018
For the consultation, I was joined by Mona and Dean from Seoul Cosmetic Surgery as my reps; they are there for support, translation and help with anything as they are a concierge service. For more information on them and how to get in touch, check out this post on what exactly they do and what they can help you out with. Banobagi also provides a translator and their translator was absolutely lovely and helpful in every way. They have multiple translators on staff to provide different languages and help all foreigners headed into their clinic so you’ll never feel lost or confused. My doctor also seemed quite comfortable with English but it’s good to have a translator for any jargon that could be confusing. Anytime there are medical procedures going on, always have an adept translator on hand so you understand everything that is about to happen fully. I basically had an entourage with me supporting me through each step. If that isn’t awesome, I don’t know what is.
Each session really got started after I headed to the esthetician’s room. The room has about ten beds with small walls in between them. As this is a clinic and not a spa, the many people in this room isn’t surprising. The steps after the cleansing are done in more private rooms just FYI.
With the esthetician, my face was cleansed of all sun creams, make-up and any other lotions or creams and then I had a glycolic acid skin scaling treatment. This treatment involved cleansing, the glycolic acid peel, an ice towel afterward to cool the face down from the peel, the application of vitamin C, followed by a hydrating mask and then a blue LED light treatment.
Ionzyme (Brightening): This treatment was interesting because I basically felt like I was being hooked up like a car battery that needs to be jumped. The treatment involves a machine providing electric stimuli to brighten the skin via cool and hot energy. A cloth is placed on the skin and then positively and negatively charged Ionzyme clips are attached so that an electric current flows through the wet gauze. There was also a point where the esthetician used a wand that is charged to spread brightening serums on my face while I held on to the opposite charged wand and she went over my face again and again. I could tell the electric currents were flowing because I could feel my little hairs standing up just as they would if I had a balloon with a static charge. The process of iontophoresis is an effective way to deliver vitamins and antioxidants deeper into the skin than regular application on the surface of the skin. This was a very calming experience and since my eyes were covered… I may have nodded off during this a couple of times.
The entire time, there is also a clip board just under the first cover on the bed with each step outlined so there is never any question on what is coming next or what needs to be done. Banobagi is definitely operating a well-oiled machine in this respect and I never felt like there was confusion or questions. The process to get cleansed and prepped was fairly quick and the translator was there to help ensure I knew what was coming next each time. The estheticians didn’t seem to speak too much English but that’s when it’s great to have my own personal translator in the room. I probably wouldn’t have had any difficulty understanding what was coming… if I could see. For so many of the processes the eyes are covered so then it’s especially great to have a translator nearby ensuring I know who is being spoken to and of course what is being said.
Next, the esthetician covered my face with a numbing agent and then I went into a secondary waiting room for a half hour while it made my face numb so that I would be ready for the lasers coming my way.
Lasers That Met My Face:
For all of the laser treatments, I went to various rooms in the clinic where the machines were hooked up. The estheticians would get me ready and then the doctor would come in to perform the treatment. My eyes were covered with protective goggles while the doctor did his work.
I2PL Laser Treatment: This treatment involves the Ellipse I2PL Intense Pulsed Light System. This machine is pretty hefty and when wheeled toward me had me wondering what it was about to pulse my way. These lasers work well for skin rejuvenation for sun-damaged skin. For this treatment, the doctor used the laser across my entire face targeting each area with short bursts. I wore goggles to protect my eyes and he adeptly and swiftly went across, around, up and down my face. Due to the numbing agent, I didn’t feel much but did see short bursts of lights under my closed eyes as the pulses were done.
Revlite: The next laser is known to be the most effective treatment for hyper-pigmented skin, or another way to say abnormally dark areas of the skin. This was something I mentioned noticing and so with this laser, the doctor focused more on those dark spots that I pointed out in our assessment. Due to pollution and sun exposure, pores in our skin enlarge which makes it more susceptible to skin problems like acne and pigmentation. This laser improves the skin texture by constricting the pores as well as promoting collagen formation. This laser works well on acne spots, sun tans, age spots, liver marks, and sun freckles. ← Note that I said “sun” freckles”. During our consultation, the doctor had mentioned that not all of the freckles on my face were from the sun but some were naturally occurring. When we did the lasers, he adeptly picked out which ones could be lightened and were due to skin damage and which ones were my natural beauty marks so as to leave those ones alone. I appreciated this as I’ve never been against my freckles but do want to take care of my skin and help any damage that I have carelessly allowed to happen over time. → Wear your sunscreen, kids. Always wear your sunscreen. Lesson Learned. ←
Er:YAG: This is an erbium laser that is extremely effective at achieving pretty dramatic improvements involving the removal of both superficial lines and moderately deep wrinkles on the face. This is a resurfacing laser that reveals the underlying skin which means you may walk out with some bandages afterwards depending how many spots need to be completely resurfaced. I had a few spots that the laser was used on and thus three tiny bandages applied before I left. These spots later scabbed a bit, but nothing horrifying. The spots actually looked a bit darker for a time as the scabbed and then when the scabs came off, the spots and dots were so much lighter. I was amazed honestly.
Ruby Fractional: This laser seemed to make my doctor rather excited as he told me there was a ruby I’d be getting lased via. The ruby allows for a higher output of energy but at much shorter pulses than the previous lasers. The short bursts allow the doctor to effectively treat smaller areas without touching the surrounding skin. The light from this laser is either reflected, transmitted, or absorbed. When it is absorbed that’s when we see the effects we’re looking for as it reduces the age spots, freckles and other skin lesions that may be in sight.
Excel V Laser: The Excel V is a system that uses a high powered green laser to target conditions like rosacea, spider veins and other pigment issues. This works well on scars and other areas due to past injuries.
The first day, I had the most laser treatments at one time so my face was a bit red and rosy when I departed. I felt a bit self-conscious as I jumped onto the subway and traveled across the city but it didn’t really seem to attract all that much attention so maybe it was worse to me than to others… or in a city where skin treatments are pretty normal, it was just not something to notice.
Not all treatments will take a month and a half, but some do. There are various options. If you’re traveling to Seoul and want to stop in for some treatments on the way, get in touch with Seoul Cosmetic Surgery before your trip and send them photos so they can get a good idea of what you’ll need even prior to your arrival.
There are also other options if you’re just looking for more of a Korean spa experience. Here are a couple I would recommend looking into:
- Sulwhasoo Spa:This high-end label is one of the most famous in Korea and their skincare and makeup is beyond compare. Their gorgeous flagship store in Gangnam also houses a spa that is widely known for an array of anti-aging treatments that utilize the brand’s products as well as jade, amber, and white porcelain. Choose from massages, brightening, and anti-aging programs. This is an amazing company that provides relaxation, calmness, and rejuvenation. Make your reservation online before you go because they are very popular.
- Spa 1899: This spa in the Gangnam area is known for their signature red ginseng treatments and the treatments can focus on various parts of the body. Some of their must-try treatments include the slow-aging, balancing, and full care options that use red ginseng to rejuvenate the body from the inside and out. Be sure to book online before you’re hoping to go.
Other Treatments I Underwent:
PRP Therapy (Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy): This is apparently a rather popular treatment that got even more popular when Kim Kardashian posted a photo of herself with a red bloody face making the facial become known as the ‘vampire facial’. Do NOT let that scare you though… as it did me slightly. When it was clear I hadn’t heard of PRP before, Mona leaned in to tell me it was also known as Vampire Facial. I have to tell you, that didn’t cause me to want to do the therapy at all but Mona explained more and now I can say, I really think this therapy helped my dry skin become more moisturized and look just stunning if I do say so myself. I was honestly stunned by how my skin reacted and how much less dry it was. I’ve always had dry skin so that certainly wasn’t something that I thought could be changed.
This therapy involves using your own blood which is then injected back into your face after the red blood cells are separated from the platelets through a process of centrifugation. Let’s start simply… so while I was getting my skin scaling treatment with the esthetician, my blood was drawn. Just a small amount similar to what you’d give if you were having a blood test. The clinic takes care of the centrifugation process so later the platelet-rich plasma can be injected into the face via a process known as microneedling. This really doesn’t hurt much at all especially with the numbing agent still on my face. The needles were moved around my face quickly by the doctor a few times and then the extra serum that was produced that was still left was squeezed and rubbed on my face too.
This is a great treatment for those looking for something that is more of a natural approach to facial rejuvenation as it is rejuvenation using your OWN cells. This procedure can cause the skin to become quite red and raw though so I wouldn’t recommend doing it too close to an upcoming event. Other than how it looked, I didn’t feel too much discomfort. It was a bit red for a couple of days, but nothing horrifying and in the end, I think this procedure really did wonders for my dry skin.
How my face looked the next day after my first treatment with all five lasers and the PRP treatment. Note the dark spots appear a bit darker and are scabbed over.
Back to the esthetician’s room:
To wrap up each session, I was back in the esthetician’s room for some very calming experiences. First up, I’d have a Korean modelling mask facial which managed in cooling down my face after the lasers were introduced. For the mask, the eyes and mouth are covered so if you’re prone to being nervous all covered up like that, do say something before the application.
Next, I enjoyed the H.I. Therapy (LED THERAPY): The last thing I’d undergo at each sitting was a nice relaxing LED light therapy. This is a proven anti-aging method. The machine emits therapeutic wavelengths of light energy, in my case red light which is great for lines and wrinkles. This therapy was actually developed to speed up the healing of wounds post surgery but the healthy skin rejuvenation was a rather happy coincidence and so it was picked up as a treatment by professional spas. The wavelengths of light help the production of collagen, which makes the skin look more full and plump, and elastin, which gives the skin better elasticity. This is a therapy that is recommended as prep for big occasions. Should you have a wedding coming up or event, head in to get this 20 minute session of rejuvenation to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and improve uneven skin tone and brighten the skin.
The next three visits to the clinic were a combination of the lasers and the treatments I mentioned. Each time my skin got even brighter and even. Below you can see exactly what I got at each treatment and the cost breakdown.
The lasers really didn’t hurt all that much. In general, I felt a little sting like a rubber band was being snapped back and forth. I have numerous tattoos and it certainly wasn’t anything like that if it helps for a comparison. However, I will say that by the time the fifth laser was being applied that first day, I was feeling it a bit more but nothing that made me recoil in pain. Afterward my face was a bit rosy and red and my darkest spots actually appeared DARKER which the doctor said was normal. A couple spots scabbed just a bit and then after the scab came off were much lighter.
I think the Banobagi office is incredibly inviting but more than that, the staff had amazing bedside manner which is something I’ve often noted lacking in places in Korea. They were on point, willing to listen to any and all questions and were never pushy. I went every other Friday over the course of two months and felt very comfortable in the office and with the staff. I think my skin is looking just stunning if I do say so myself and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. I didn’t realize how possibly reliant I had become on my make-up routine. I don’t wear all that much, but now I feel as though I don’t have to wear any. My skin looks younger and brighter and has responded so well to all of the treatments that the doctor suggested. I can’t thank the staff of Banobagi and Mona and Dean from Seoul Cosmetic Surgery enough for inviting me.
September 21, 2018 Treatments:
- I2PL + Revolite toning : 1,650,000 KRW
- Erbium YAG + Ruby laser : 1,100,000 KRW
- Water Glossy PRP : 1,650,000 KRW
October 5, 2018 Treatments:
- RF treatment(High frequency) : 330,000 KRW
- Water glossy treatment : 880,000 KRW
October 19, 2018 Treatments:
- RF treatment : 330,000 KRW
- I2PL + Revolite toning : 1,650,000 KRW
- Water Glossy Treatment : 1,650,000 KRW
November 2, 2018 Treatments:
- RF treatment : 330,000 KRW
- Revolite toning : 330,000 KRW
- Excel V laser : 1,100,000 KRW
- Water glossy treatment : 880,000 KRW
To talk with Mona and Dean about any of your skin conditions or the treatments you’re looking for, get in touch with them
Did you like this post? Pin It!