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Medical Tourists Left Stranded Because Passport Photos Don’t Match Post-Plastic Surgery Faces

Medical Tourists Left Stranded Because Passport Photos Don’t Match Post-Plastic Surgery Faces
Jeff Edwards

Three Chinese tourists reportedly ended up stuck at the airport following a cosmetic surgery junket to South Korea, because they no longer resembled the pictures in their passports.

Erma Bombeck famously wrote, “When you look like your passport photo, it’s time to go home.” This may be sound advice, but three medical tourists from China recently learned the hard way that not resembling your passport at all can cause much bigger headaches.

According to the Shanghaiist, the three unidentified travel companions made a trip from China to South Korea for a bit of elective surgery over the Golden Week holidays. South Korea is something of a mecca for those seeking low-cost plastic surgery procedures, but the travelers who were turned away from their flight at the airport might have been better served by using some of the cost savings to spend a little more time recovering before attempting to fly back home.

Viral images of the three recovering cosmetic surgery patients, photographed at the airport by Chinese television host Jian Huahua, make it easy to understand why authorities in South Korea might have had trouble matching the travelers with their official passport photos. Their heavily bandaged and swollen faces made the women look almost otherworldly. Jian Huahua posted the now-infamous photograph on social media and joked that the women likely wouldn’t be recognized by their own mothers at this point in their post-op recovery.

The Chinese television star reported that the plastic surgery enthusiasts were not permitted to board their flight home and were later detained and questioned by authorities. It isn’t at all clear from the viral images of the three women’s facial expressions, if they were scared, angry, happy, sad or surprised about the absurd situation they found themselves in at the airport.

View Comments (3)


  1. pdsales

    October 11, 2017 at 7:13 am

    So if they had been in a car wreck instead of having had plastic surgery, they also would not have been able to go home?

  2. Froide

    October 13, 2017 at 2:44 am

    Global Entry and NEXUS members traveling internationally after undergoing similar procedures would have an easier time returning home, since those Trusted Traveler Program passengers can be identified via fingerprints and/or iris scans.

  3. babyeitoto

    October 16, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    Excessive changes that even own parents can’t recognise?

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