If you've followed the poker career of Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier as closely as we have over the last 10 years, you'd probably be surprised to hear he just had cosmetic surgery.
Never would we have thought there was anything wrong with his nose. But, mind you, medical issues aren’t always visible.
As it turned out, during a yoga session ElkY found he could only breathe through one nostril so he did the obvious thing:
He went to the other side of the world and had it fixed in South Korea – a country where plastic surgery is a common graduation present.
To South Korea for Nose Surgery
Obviously, the most urgent question on our mind when we saw him at the PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo was:
Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier: What?
PL: How does yoga connect to a blocked nose?
ElkY: You do breathing exercises in yoga where you have to breathe through one and then the other nostril. That’s how I found out.
I couldn’t do it on one side. The doctor said I fell as a child, and later boxing made it worse.
I had never realized my nose was crooked until a few weeks ago but it must have been like that for a couple of years.
PL: So you decided to get it fixed.
ElkY: Yes. I wanted to go to Korea for consultation. So, I flew to Seoul and went to the hospital and they said, 'ok we can do it tomorrow morning.' I was like whaaat?
My plan was to go out partying with my friends but then I decided to cancel that and go for the surgery.
PL: You have a lot of faith, going into surgery hardly knowing the doctors.
ElkY: They’re very professional and they’re all really good. Korea has the best plastic surgeons in the world. Their reputation is higher than anyone’s anywhere.
PL: And why is that so? Because they do it all the time?
ElkY: Because they do it all the time. I did some research. Korea has 25% of the worldwide business of plastic surgery. It’s the country with the highest rate of plastic surgery per capita.
I read that 20% of the women in Korea have had plastic surgery, but that’s a nationwide number. In Seoul the number is probably closer to 50%. With so much demand they have to be very good at plastic surgery.
PL: Why is the demand so high?
ElkY: Appearance is very important there. For example, you have to send a picture with every job application. It simply has become very common.
So common in fact that plastic surgery is a typical graduation gift.
PL: You’re kidding … not. Are you afraid of operations?
ElkY: Not really, but I’d never done any surgery like this before. I’d never been anaesthetized, so I thought 'what if I get a bad beat and don’t wake up anymore?' That would suck. Or what if I die? That would really suck.
PL: Well, actually, it wouldn’t because you wouldn’t know, would you.
ElkY: Well, nobody knows what happens afterwards but I’d rather wake up anyway.
PL: Two weeks after the operation your nose looks like nothing ever happened.
ElkY: The first few days are really tough because it’s so swollen you can hardly open your eyes. You tip your head, it bleeds. You can’t really do anything.
But after that it went really fast and I’m very happy with the way it went down. I have friends who told me they’d done the same thing 10 years ago but the surgeon messed it up and then the nose kind of fell off and they had to do it all over again.
PL: The nose “kind of fell off”?
ElkY: Well, it went flat, so to speak, because they did it wrong and so they had to do it again.
PL: So, that happens.
ElkY: I don’t think it happens now in Korea. Anyway, the look is not the most important thing for me. I’m really happy I can breathe properly again.
My nose is still a little tilted but I don’t care. The look is secondary. But you can get it done any way you like, of course. They will accommodate any of your wishes.
PL: Thank you, ElkY.
Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier is still alive (literally and poker-wise) and playing Day 2 of the PSC Monte Carlo Main Event today. Watch the live stream right here.