What happens after plastic surgery? How do people recover? What do they look like before they become the "after" photo that we often see? Artist Ji Yeo set out to document the recovery process for women who underwent surgical procedures to change their appearance. She collected the photos she took for an art project she calls Beauty Recovery Room, a gallery of photos that depict South Korean women in different stages of recovery, all of them hiding away from the world.
Yeo told Wired that her project had a personal pull:
"I was going to get heavy plastic surgery, like my entire body," she says. "After consultation and consultation, I realized that I hadn't been exposed to the procedure. No one really explained what the side-effects would be, or that going under anesthesia — I might die."
Rather than hurry into surgery, Yeo decided to investigate the process through her photography. She found that the body-conscious culture of South Korea, and its highly developed plastic surgery industry, was an ideal setting for capturing the "After" photos that no clinic would advertise.
"Finding people willing to stand in front of the camera after the procedure was the toughest thing," says Yeo.
Yeo found her subjects on an on-line forum and while they were reluctant to be photographed during the process, they were excited too. In order to help them participate, Yeo supported them through recuperation. She says:
"I bought prescriptions, I cooked soup for them, I drove them to the hotel, and drove them to the clinic for post-ops. I let one subject stay at my apartment for a week," she says.
In exchange, they agreed to be photographed. "Even though they were hiding to get healed, they were still excited and confident in front of the cameras..."
The results are striking and offer a rare glimpse into the world of plastic surgery after-care. It's one thing to see it on television on shows like Nip/Tuck, it's quite another to come face to face with the reality of the aftermath.
More photos are below and are reprinted with the permission of the artist. If you're interested in reading more about Ji Yeo, Wired has an excellent interview about the project. Her photos can be found on her website.