Cosmetic Travel Log: Japan and What I Learned About Asian Skin
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)
- Japanese women are cosmetically oriented: they care about their appearance
- The face is everything
- Japanese women don’t get cellulite (or don’t seem to seek treatment for it if they do). Cellulite is not in the vocabulary
- 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.
- Asian skin responds exceptionally well to Thermage skin tightening.
- 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)
- Downtime is unacceptable, even a little pinkness will prevent a Japanese woman from leaving the house.
- Saving face is important, one may want cosmetic improvements but there is some stigma with having had a procedure done.
- Japanese women aggressively protect their skin from sun. One can see women drivers wearing white gloves to shield their hands from UV.
- 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!!