Destinations, Feature

The Rise of Plastic Surgery Abroad and Medical Tourism


Combining a holiday and a plastic surgery procedure may not be many people’s idea of a fun way to spend a week or two abroad but this phenomenon, known as medical tourism is on the rise. There are a number of reasons behind patients from countries such as the UK travelling to sunnier climbs for all sorts of treatments and in particular for plastic surgery. Recent reports have suggested there an increasing number of Brits how are fueling growth in medical tourism due to expensive costs of treatment at home and long waiting lists on the national health service.

Men and women are much more aware these days of how they look compared to others. Facial aging, body sagging, small breasts or flabby pectorals can all be remedied with cosmetic surgery. Unfortunately, cosmetic surgery can be very expensive and far from the means of many ordinary people. Liposuction, a tummy-tuck and breast enlargement can be as much as 80 percent cheaper in hospitals and clinics abroad for patients from many countries.


There are places in the world where cosmetic surgeons are well trained and do cosmetic procedures in good facilities. In many European countries, medical regulations are very strict, and just because the surgery is done for a fraction of the cost as the same procedure in the UK, does not necessarily mean it is lower quality. Breast augmentation is the most popular cosmetic procedure, but there is recent interest in broader areas of cosmetic surgery by more people including gastric band surgery. Many people do not have huge incomes and are looking to save money on a variety of procedure and are now turning to plastic surgery abroad at cheaper prices and possibly combined with a holiday.

5 Star Hospitals

Another reason plastic surgery abroad is on the rise is because it gives anonymity. A patient can check into a hospital, have a procedure, rest by the beach after surgery and go home a new person. They may or may not tell friends and co-workers what they did. Going abroad for medical tourism can give patients the benefits of a holiday along with any surgery they elect to have.

During the economic downturn, people still want a good quality of life and look for ways to have what they want while paying less. With the reductions in funding for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and no reforms in sight, there are long waiting times, inferior quality NHS dentistry and more focus on chronic obesity along with the surgical remedies. Even though there has been twice the funding for health care between 1997 and 2010, the impact on the health care system has not been consistent. This has prompted many people to consider medical tourism for plastic surgery.

There are no statistics available for the number of patients who choose medical tourism for their cosmetic surgery, but according to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) there is a noted rise in patients who need help with complications because of having surgery abroad.

For someone thinking about going abroad for plastic surgery there are several things that should be considered before booking a ticket and contacting a clinic.

• Know the procedure required and the recovery time
• Research the hospital and surgeon that has been recommended
• If there is no clinic website with the surgeon’s name, fine another one
• Find out how medical standards are enforced in the country of choice
• Make sure the surgeon speaks English and all the records are in English
• Consider insurance options if the procedure goes wrong
• Ordinary travel or medical insurance will not cover plastic surgery abroad

Lower cost and anonymity are powerful reasons why there are more and more people going abroad for plastic surgery. Any surgery carries a certain amount of risk, and for surgery in another country the risk is much more. One way to reduce the risk is to visit the country, hospitals and a few surgeons and ascertain the situation before committing to any medical procedure. There are excellent doctors and hospitals where surgery would be a success in Europe and Asia, but simply believing an advertisement for medical tourism is not the safest way to go.

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