Fancy a take-away Thai tummy tuck, while enjoying the virtues of a tropical island, or how about affordable dentistry in the land of smiles, cosmetic tourism has taken on a completely new concept with sand, sea and surgery.
A lucrative market in nip and tuck travel is booming, with Thailand leading the way, followed closely by India, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea. Attracted by the Peter Pan features of their favorite Korean Pop Stars, a deluge of Chinese travelers, mostly young women, are flocking to South Korea for surgery. Almost exclusively, the biggest attraction for those seeking surgery away from their home countries, is the price. The cost of surgery in Thailand can be one-tenth of what you would pay in Europe or the U.S., but remember there is a world of difference between cheap and affordable.
When we think of medical tourism, we automatically think of cosmetic surgery, but more and more, patients are discovering the advantages of high quality, low cost surgery in an overseas location. Not only are we seeing cosmetic and dental, but also cardiac and orthopedic. In China, liver and kidney transplants and stem cell therapy, which so far is unavailable in the U.S., is giving doctors in other parts of the world, a major headache. Concerns regarding safety and liability have been raised, as well as regulation of organ donor procurement. Do profits from medical tourism leach medical services away from the needy in these countries; India is a prime example …who is left to treat the poor?
If you are still determined to have a Phuket pout, be a savvy medical tourist, research is your absolute key! Look for surgeons and medical centers that have international accreditation. You will find that most of the surgeons in India, Thailand, Singapore and other parts of Asia have trained extensively in the U.S., Europe or Australia. Realistically there is no reason to believe surgery in Asia is any more dangerous than in your home country. Navigate away from agencies who organize surgery holidays, they are known to up-sell you on treatments and touristy indulgences for kickbacks.
Bikinis and bruises do not go well together, the promised sea, sand and safari may just be one big fairytale. Surgery requires some serious downtime, swimming, drinking, and the climate in Asia is not conducive to rapid healing; don’t put yourself at risk of infection.
Be realistic in your expectations, and make sure you insist on face to face consultation well in advance of your surgery, all too often the first time you meet your physician is on the day of surgery. Be aware of aesthetic cultural differences, the shape of an attractive nose differs greatly in Asia, who wants an upturned nose with flaring nostrils reminiscent of Miss Piggy? Don’t fall into the trap of bigger is better, unless you want breasts the size of melons!
One factor you cannot ignore is…something going wrong. If something does go wrong not being able to speak the language could be a major disadvantage. Even though you may have chosen surgery overseas for the luxury of secrecy, seriously consider taking along a trusted friend for moral support.
Consider this in your prerequisites:
- Should something untoward happen, would you be given priority in the hospital’s emergency facility?
- If you require transport to your home country, will your health insurance foot the bill?
- Does the hospital and surgeon of your choice have international accreditation?
- Will your hard-earned savings cover the cost of not only your surgery, but complications resulting in additional room nights, time away from work, and recuperation in your home country?
- If you apply the same scrutiny to your surgery overseas as you would if you were having it done in your own country, all should be well!
Also consider this… fancy a little rejuvenation while cruising around the Med? Silversea Cruises newest ship, The Silver Spirit now offers Botox and dermal fillers in their luxury medi-spa, as well as acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine all administered by accredited specialists in their field…now that sounds good to me!