For those of you who are considering getting LASIK surgery in Seoul, this post is for you. I think I’ve answered every question you would have. If I have not, it either means I cannot answer it because it didn’t apply to me or it’s better answered by a professional. With that being said, if you still feel I’ve left something out, please let me know in the comments.
As you can see in the diagram, I went to the BGN Eye Clinic in Gangnam, Seoul. The clinic is located in the Kyobo tower right outside of Sinnonhyeon Station exit 6 on the 15th floor. It was conveniently located and very easy to find. I heard about this clinic on Facebook. They were advertising a promotion for foreigners 600,000 won (which is like $520) for LASEK surgery and 1,200,000 won (which is like $1,000) for LASIK surgery. A simple google search can tell you the difference between LASEK and LASIK surgery in Seoul, so I won’t get into it here. The BGN Eye clinic also has a branch located in Busan, but the one in Seoul was more convenient for me
I went to the BGN Facebook page, and located the contact number. When I called, I spoke directly to the manager Jihun Kim. This woman was so professional and nice. She answered all of my questions in perfect English and we were able to set up an appointment for the FREE eye consultation that Saturday. The call lasted less than ten minutes and I was booked. After we hung up, she sent me a text message with the above diagram, her contact information, and this to- do list:
n the day of the first consultation, I sent Mrs. Kim a text message asking if my friend could also come with me to get a free eye exam, and she was more than happy to squeeze both of us in. When we arrived, I was greeted with a nice smile from Mrs. Kim, and to my surprise she already knew who I was and was anticipating my arrival. She had both of us fill out some very basic paperwork asking for profile information, possible allergies, and giving a brief overview of the exams. It took both of us less than five minutes to complete this form. Then we were issued lockers for our belongings. After that the wait was minimal.
We both were assigned a specialist who walked us through every eye test and gave us a very thorough breakdown of the difference between LASIK and LASEK, the healing processes of each, and recommendations based on time. After checking my eye pressure, cornea, vision etc. I was informed that my eyes were in great health (to which I responded “So why in the hell am I blind without glasses!?…She just laughed). I was told I had the option to choose which surgery I’d prefer. I chose LASIK based of the recovery time and the amount of follow-up appointments. Some people, based on their eye health, may not be eligible for both or either, that is why this first consultation is so crucial.
Once we were finished, she asked if I would like to get it done that same day! They were so ready! I couldn’t because I had plans and had not prepared to have surgery that day. Instead, I decided to book for that following Saturday, first thing in the morning. I was asked to put down a 100,000 won deposit (about $80) to secure my appointment and that was that! They informed me they would subtract the deposit from my final bill.
Note: I did wear my glasses the entire time leading up to the appointment. I don’t wear contacts so the instructions for that did not apply to me. My eyes felt totally fine after the appointment, because I opted out of the eye drops test at the end (when you opt out of this they just run a few extra test instead).
I’m going to break this down into sections to ensure I don’t leave anything out. First I will discuss what happened when I arrived at the clinic, the payment, and the free accomodation. Next, I will discuss the pre-surgery consultation. Then I will discuss the surgery process in detail. After that I will discuss the aftermath and the follow-up appointment that took place the very next day.
When I arrived at the clinic at 10:00 a.m., I was warmly greeted by Mrs. Kim and assigned a locker for my belongings. She then walked me through our to-do list for the day. She was so unbelievably professional and thorough. We headed over to the counter so that I could pay for the surgery. I, of course, inquired about the myriad of discount promotions advertised on their site, and showed her the ones I qualified for. She was very sweet and accomodating when it came to this, and I felt more confident in their brand when they were ready to honor their advertisement promises. So many companies try to pull that whole bait and switch scheme on you, but BGN Eye Clinic stood by their claims.
I had received a 50,000 won discount for bringing my friend last weekend. There was another 50,000 won discount issued to me for sharing about my experience on my Facebook page. I am not sure if these discount promotions will still be available when you go, but they were for me. I did not rely on them to just give me the discounts advertised, I ASKED for them. Ask and you shall receive He said… Anyway, my total that day came to 1,150,000 won (less than $1,000). Remember, I paid a 100,000 won deposit the last time I was there.
I cannot say for certain that BGN Eye Clinic will always offer a free one-night stay in a nearby hotel to all of its patrons, but they did offer this to me, and I gladly accepted. I was informed that they do this for those who are traveling to the clinic from outside of Seoul city limits. When I inquired about the free stay, Mrs. Kim had already made my reservation at the Hotel Designers LYJ Premier hotel, located directly across the street from the Kyobo Tower! I mentioned to her during the first visit that I lived in Jeongseon and would like to take advantage of the free accommodation option, and she remembered. She gave me the directions, and told me the reservation was under my name. She booked me a standard twin room in case I had a friend who needed to stay with me after the surgery. How thoughtful of her, right?
Before I was called in for surgery, Mrs. Kim took me into her office to give me a bag of artificial tears and medicated eye drops. I also received a pair of sleeping goggles, which I was instructed to wear every night for the first two weeks after surgery. She gave me a form with the instructions for the eye drops and the dos and dont’s. for example:
The dos and don’ts may vary depending on which LASIK/LASEK procedure you choose. This list is only referring to the LASIK surgery.
Once I completed the pre-surgery consultation with Mrs. Kim, she took me to the area where I would be having the surgery. There was a short wait, then I was ushered into a room where I was instructed to take my shoes off and store my belongings in a locker. After that, I was given “numbing” eye drops (I’m sure there’s a technical term for it) and she also sterilized my face. I was asked to sit in a small waiting room with very comfortable chairs and keep my eyes closed for ten minutes. After that short wait, it was time for the procedure. I laid down on the chair, and they propped open my eyes. I still had to help keep my eyes open during the procedure. I did not feel ANYTHING. THERE WAS NO PAIN. The most important part of the surgery was following their instructions to keep my eyes open while the laser was on, which I did. It only lasted for 10 to 20 seconds. It took them about 5 to 7 minutes to complete each eye.
Advice: Just focus on the green light, remain still, keep your eyes open when they tell you to, and stay calm. It is not painful and they do a million of these a year. There’s no reason to freak out.
After about 12 minutes I was told my surgery was successful. They told me to go back into the waiting room and sit in the chair with my eyes closed for 10 minutes. Once I was done, I was able to collect my things and head back over to the main desk to speak to Mrs. Kim one last time . She confirmed the directions to the hotel, told me to take the tear drops every 10 minutes for the first day, and the medication every two hours. She warned me that I would be very uncomfortable once the anesthetic wore off, and she was right!
The same day of surgery I was in a lot of pain. My tolerance for pain is much lower than the average person so it’s possible that it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. My eyes felt very heavy, and I was instructed not to go to sleep for at least three hours after the surgery so this was tough. I also had plans so I had to venture outside, and exposing my eyes to the elements with no sun glasses or hat was probably not the best idea. I was basically half blind. I kept using the artificial tears every 10 minutes as instructed. The pain lasted for about 5 hours after the surgery, and then it began to subside (but not completely). I followed the regimen closely up until night time. I wore the goggles to sleep.
The following day, I felt much better. I was no longer in pain, but my eyes were still dry so I continued using the artificial tears. I returned to the clinic the next morning for a follow-up. The total wait time was about 30 minutes. My eyes still felt sensitive to the elements, but my vision was very sharp. I was even able to watch a movie the day after the surgery.
Overall, I am very happy with my decision to get LASIK surgery in Seoul, South Korea. BGN Eye Clinic in Gangnam did an amazing job, and I would recommend their services to anyone, without reservation! I am not being paid to say this. I am not an affiliate for this company. This is my honest opinion. It has been a week since my surgery, and I feel GREAT! I can see very clearly now, my eyes do not hurt at all. I am still taking the medication and following all the instructions in my guide. My follow-up appointment is tomorrow, and then I can truly call the entire surgery a SUCCESS. This procedure is said to last well into my 50s or 60s, and then I will most likely need reading glasses, but I’m at peace with that! Everybody goes blind when they get old anyway, right?
I do suggest bringing a friend with you to help after the surgery. He or she should be willing to spend the day/night with you at the hotel so you won’t have to worry about going out and getting your own food, and they can help administer the eye drops so you won’t have to get up every 10 minutes.
Honestly, I was nervous, but then I thought about all the people in that lobby and the thousands of people who’ve had successful surgeries at this clinic, and my fears were quickly laid to rest. This is not something you have to be skeptical about because it’s been done for many years for millions of people around the world. Don’t stress about being able to keep your eyes open during surgery either. They have a machine that helps, but you will need to hold them open as well. It’s not hard as long as you remain calm.
REMEMBER: You are not the first to get LASIK and you won’t be the last.
The procedure, without any discounts, will be 1.3 million won (Or about $1,000). That is the price for both eyes! In America, LASIK surgery typically costs around $2,000 to $3,000 PER EYE! You do the math on the savings. I did not pay for the hotel stay either. That was included as I discussed before. You’ll have to factor in your own transportation costs and food costs. They pay for the hotel so that you can be available for the mandatory follow-up the day after the surgery (I got the surgery done Saturday, and the follow-up was done on Sunday).
To be honest, I have no idea what my prescription was in my glasses. All I know is that it was bad. My eye pressure and cornea thickness were perfect for the surgery. They run a lot of tests to make sure of this before they recommend the surgery to you, so my advice would be to just get the consultation done and DO NOT try to figure out whether or not you are a good candidate for LASIK based on your friend’s diagnosis. There are far too many variables at play to know for sure. Just becuase you and your friend have the same prescription and he’s eligible does not mean you will be too.
There's just so many things to do in Seoul! Join me and some of the awesome EPIK teachers hanging out in Myeongdong (명동) in Seoul, South Korea! We ate awesome street food, at 치맥 (Chicken and Beer) later that night, sang at 노래방 (Noraebang), and had some random Street Fighter II battles!
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