Facelifts, Without The Knife


Wells Dermatology and Medical Spa


Wells Dermatology and Medical Spa

Lasers seem to be the answer for everything these days. From hyperpigmentation to hair removal, laser technology is lauded as the quick fix for any number of skin-related grievances. This is hardly new in Korea, where spas see laser treatments along the lines of Drybar here—a quick affair you can and should take care of before a special event. You're in, you're out, zap zap zap. (It should be noted that efficiency does not translate into affordability in this case. Treatments can be as pricey in Korea as they are in the US—but that’s what Groupon’s for, right?)

When I was last in Seoul, I booked a beauty date with Dr. Wonwoo Choi from Wells Dermatology and Medical Spa, with the point of exploring the ins and outs of laser procedures—particularly the techniques that act more like facelifts for the surgery-phobic. They’re not invasive, require no downtime, and boast none of the traditional lift risks. Think of it as a quick pick-me-up that’ll restore you to yesteryear’s complexion and anti-gravity proclivities. Here’s what I tried:

Duet RF Laser Treatment

A heated metal rod connected to the RF System (a high-frequency machine) is first used to help improve elasticity and circulation by means of massaging the skin and increasing the body’s inner heat. While this increase in inner heat throughout the face improves skin firmness, it can also aid in burning fat and decreasing the appearance of cellulite when the device is used to massage the body. The increase in heat is equivalent to the rise in body temperature while exercising.

After a pleasantly warm facial massage, the Duet RF laser is used to shoot high frequency waves into the skin that stimulate collagen activation, and in turn, tighten the skin. This is a Korean-made laser technology that is not yet used in the United States, but works within KFDA regulations. It can operate on a wider range of energies that is adjusted depending on skin type.

DA VINCI Laser Procedure

Similar to the Duet, the Da Vinci laser operates on stronger frequencies slightly above FDA standards, but still within safe amounts as tested by Korean dermatologists and the KFDA. Dr. Choi actually took part in the creation of this device when a Korean laser technology company approached him to be the first to test and approve it. With double the strength and efficacy, three rounds of the Da Vinci in Korea equal the price of one Thermage procedure in the US (which goes for $2000 a pop).

Visible changes take up to three weeks to show through, so this procedure requires patience and serious aftercare. It’s also designed to treat more stubborn skin problems (usually for older women), so a weaker frequency for younger skin would suffice. This procedure requires a topical anesthetic (numbing cream) to mask the pinching sensations that can be felt during treatment.

The results are as promised: visibly healthier skin. To be honest, there wasn’t much of a difference in lift because my mid-20’s skin wasn’t really sagging in the first place. The difference, though, showed in the brightness and radiance of my skin, which pretty much glowed for a few weeks after the treatments. These laser treatments really stimulate collagen production like none other, and in turn, the skin releases an inner shine and firmness that was masked by tired skin.

Intrigued (but not currently Seoul-bound)? Skin Laundry, a West Hollywood treatment center, is leading the charge in the American race toward the quickie laser facelift. There are also delightful rumors of their imminent approach on the East Coast, so stay tuned.

—Stella Kim

Photos courtesy of the author. Read more about Korean skincare here.