They could have been considered a trophy — a sign of what was going to happen to patients’ jaws, or just something pretty to look at. Whatever the reason, a Korean plastic surgeon was fined and ordered to remove the two towers of jaw bone-filled glass that he kept in his office. And yes, the jaw bones were from hundreds of patients who underwent surgery.
Located in the affluent Gangnam District of Seoul, South Korea, the plastic surgeon’s office housed the two towers, which sat tall side-by-side, and filled with slender jaw bone pieces taken from hundreds of Koreans who underwent an increasingly popular cosmetic surgery to sharpen their chins into V-shapes. In total, they held about 2,000 pieces, each labeled with the name of the person it came from. Photos of the towers were originally posted on the clinic’s website, but were taken down after they spread through social media sites like Twitter, causing controversy. “This is the most gross, disgusting image I’ve seen in recent memory,” Twitter user dadaibadi wrote, according to News.com.au.
A wealth of other complaints pushed officials to visit the office. One unidentified official said that the towers had been taken down and that the clinic would get a three million won ($3,171) fine on the basis that the surgeon violated regulations. Medical professionals are required to incinerate leftover body parts, and these jaw bones could be considered a pathological waste or biohazard.
Over the past year, Koreans have been particularly engrossed in facial cosmetic surgery. The procedure, known as double-jaw surgery, was intended for people who couldn’t chew properly because of a pronounced over or underbite. But seeing another opportunity to beautify themselves — aside from widening their eyes and straightening their noses — many began going under the knife to sharpen their round chins into thinner V-shapes.
The procedure involves cutting bone off of the jaw and repositioning it so that the upper and lower are more aligned. But although it sounds simple, recovery is difficult, often causing patients — as many as 52 percent — to experience sensory problems like facial numbness, according to The Huffington Post. “My mouth keeps moving leftward and the jaw area has gone numb,” one user on a medical consumer online forum wrote, Huff Post reported. “I can’t even feel when saliva keeps ripping out of my mouth.”
Yet, for many Korean women, beauty is essential to securing a job and a husband, among many other things in life, hence why they undergo so many cosmetic surgeries. “This is a highly-male dominated nation where women need both brains and beauty, or often beauty more than brains,” Lim In-Sook, a professor of sociology at Korea University, told Huff Post.