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Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

(480) 948-5045

Cosmetic Travel Log: Japan and What I Learned About Asian Skin

By Dr. Susan Van Dyke
March 26, 2010

Assignment:  Explain how I add a new laser to my practice to a group of physicians…in Asia.

I do a lot of Thermage skin tightening and therefore  I know enough about it to have good clinical info to share.  I just added the Faxel to my practice ( my 18th  laser) so I certainly can share on breaking in a new laser.  And sharing is what I have been doing, in Tokyo. I lectured to about 100 Japanese physicians (mostly dermatologists and plastic surgeons).  What a fascinating experience.  First you need to know that I do not speak or understand Japanese so I was given an interpreter.  I spoke one sentence at a time from the podium and waited for my words to be translated.  It certainly takes the nuance, the personatlity out of a presentation.  Jokes don’t translate, neither do smiles (the delay between my smile and my translated word was a huge disconnect).  I have always felt that I should entertain as well as confer information.  Well, at least the information was shared.

So, I spoke, I was asked a few translated questions and then settled in to listen (via translator) to my Japanese collegues.  This is what I learned. (the following are the opinions and experience of these physicians,  not necessarily undisputed facts)

  1. Japanese women are cosmetically oriented:  they care about their appearance
  2. The face is everything
  3. Japanese women don’t get cellulite (or don’t seem to seek treatment for it if they do).  Cellulite is not in the vocabulary
  4. Once a Japanese woman marries and has children she does not expose her body to the public and so does not care about body treatments.
  5. Asian skin responds exceptionally well to Thermage skin tightening.
  6. Asian skin responds poorly to older aggressive laser treatments (this I knew, increased pigment after many treatments is a problem ( exceptions:  Thermage and Fraxel re:store-clearly the reason I am in Japan talking about these two technologies)
  7. Downtime is unacceptable, even a little pinkness will prevent a Japanese woman from leaving the house.
  8. Saving face is important, one may want cosmetic improvements but there is some stigma with having had a procedure done.
  9. Japanese women aggressively protect their skin from sun.  One can see women drivers wearing white gloves to shield their hands from UV.
  10. No one I spoke to in Japan has ever heard of a tanning booth!  This might explain why they look so young!

Off to Taipei tommorow to speak with Taiwanese docs  I look forward to additional insights into cultures and costmetic attitudes.  Also some great food!!

Blog, Fraxel, Laser, Laser Rejuvenation, Thermage, Travel


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