Medical Tourism: Best place for plastic surgery abroad

Where is the best place for plastic surgery abroad? While most people travel to see historic cities and picturesque landscapes, there is a rise in the number of people traveling for medical reasons. Most people are asking why would you spend hundreds of thousands for medical treatments when you can spend a 1/3 of the price elsewhere and also get a vacation. Obviously, it’s important to approach with caution, understand the risks, research as much as possible and preferably take a family member or friend with you when you go.

Global Medical Tourism Market is projected to display a robust growth represented by a CAGR of 1.65 % during 2018 – 2024. Read the report HERE

What is Medical Tourism

Medical Tourism is when an individual who lives in one country travel to another country to receive medical, dental or surgical care. Most people travel to other countries due to high quality of healthcare, affordability, access of care or better availability.

Types of Procedures:

Facial – Facial procedures are done to enhance and rejuvenate the face. There are different kinds of surgical and non-surgical procedures like facelifts, rhinoplasty (nose reshaping done for cosmetics or medical reason, such as difficulty breathing or birth defects), Chin implants, Thermage, laser skin resurfacing and many more.

Breast – Breast surgery procedures are done to increase or decrease the size or change the shape of the breasts through breast augmentation, breast reduction, breast lift and nipple areola reconstruction.

Body – Body procedures entail body contouring procedures to give your body the shape you want. Unwanted fat and skin can be removed from the body or added wherever required through fat or implants. Body contouring procedures involve procedures such as liposuction, Abdominoplasty also known as tummy tuck, butt lift, body lift, calf augmentation etc.

Dental – If your teeth are stained, discolored, worn, chipped, broken, misaligned, misshapen, or have gaps between them, cosmetic dentistry can give you a better smile. Most popular procedures are crowns, veneers, gum contouring and Invisalign.

Things to know before going for surgery abroad:

It is important to do your homework and research the level experience for each surgeon you consider before setting up a consultation.

  1. Find out if your doctor is accredited or certified. When your doctor is board certified, it means the doctor adheres to rigorous study, ethical standards and examination to qualify as an accredited member. You can verify this answer from the following organization:

2. How long has the doctor been practicing?

3. Are the results shown in before and after photos of previous patients to your liking? Are the photos of actual patients of your doctor?

4. How extensive is the practice? Do they offer study models, imaging technology and/or bonding previews when recommending and demonstrating procedure options?

5. What kind of technology is used in the practice and if it will serve your needs?

6. What are the risks of this procedure?

Ask about the risks of the procedure as well as the benefits. There is risk to any surgical procedure and you should be fully aware of all the risks before choosing to have your procedure.

7. Will there be an emergency medical team present in case of any emergencies?

8. Where will the surgery take place?

Will the surgery be performed in the hospital or in office. The complexity of your procedure, as well as any health issues specific to your case (your age, overall health, etc.), should always be considered when determining where it would be best for your surgery to take place. Hospitals are always the best option but some procedures like dental treatments are usually done in an office.

10. The cost of surgery abroad

Ask if everything is included in the price, including your Consultant and anaesthetist’s charges, medications, dressings, and after-care. Some practices in some countries even offer a discount if you pay in cash.

11. Recovery time

Although a number of aesthetic and reconstructive procedures are performed on an outpatient basis or require at most a night or two in the hospital, medical travelers should not be too quick to hop a plane for home

Where to go for surgery abroad:

Asia is the fastest growing destination for medical tourism, with an outstanding reputation both in terms of expertise and drastically reduced waiting times for treatment.

South Korea

South Korea is one of the world’s most tech-savvy and scientifically advanced nations with nearly 1 million procedures a year. South Korea is often called the world’s plastic surgery capital. Rhinoplasty, double eyelid surgery, jaw reduction surgery, eye widening surgery, forehead augmentation and breast augmentation are among the top 10 of surgeries done in South Korea.


In 2017 it was reported that India hosts about 1.27 million tourists from countries such as the US, UK, and Canada in addition to visitors from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and China. Since 2017, the market has grown by 25%, with facilities offering foreign patients packages that include airport-to-hospital pick-ups, in-room Wi-Fi and private chefs and more luxury amenities. India’s JCI-accredited hospitals now number more than 35, up from only seven just ten years ago.


The seaside resorts along the coast of the Aegean and Mediterranean seas in Turkey are well known as a medical tourism destination. Most popular treatments are for dental, cardiac, cancer and orthopaedic care. Government initiatives to attract patients include discounts for flying with Turkish Airlines. Most facilities have packages that include hotels, airport transfers and a tour guide to show you around.

For example Dental crowns and treatment cost $500-$2,500 per tooth in the USA and only $250 – $300 per tooth in Turkey. Most practices require you to spend at least 7 days in the country.


The biggest hospitals targeting medical tourists in Thailand are JCI-accredited Bumrungrad International Hospital with more than 900 full-time and consulting physicians representing every imaginable specialty and subspecialty practice there—nearly 300 are US board certified; and Bangkok Hospital, both located in the country’s largest city. Thailand offers the medical traveler far more than the transgender procedures that often occupy the media limelight. Specialties include cosmetic surgery, orthopedics, cardiology, IVF/reproductive medicine, spine surgery, and dentistry. 


Hungary is a great place to go for dental treatments, the country boasts more dentists per capita than any other country, and some of the best and least expensive clinics are found in rural areas. The small town of Mosonmagyaróvár near the Austrian border is home to more than 160 dental offices! While it’s economical for Europeans to travel to Hungary for a dental checkup or a cleaning, most North Americans who travel to Hungary are looking for more extensive care, including cosmetic oral surgeries, full-mouth restorations, and implants. Such work can be had at less than half the US price, including travel and accommodations.


Did you know the first liver transplant in Latin America was done in 1976 in Colombia.

This tropical country of Colombia sits at the northern tip of South America is the only country to have both a Pacific as well as a Caribbean coastline. Colombia provides a great variety of contrasts, as much in its stunning landscapes, as in the customs of its inhabitants and its immensely rich biodiversity including its flora and fauna. The region of Medellin is popular for medical treatments. Colombia specializes in plastic surgery, refractive surgery, dental procedures, transplants as well as treatments related to heart problems and cancer. 


Brazil is home to more cosmetics surgeons than any other country in the world with more than 60 JCI-accredited hospitals throughout the country offer virtually every specialty and sub-specialty to the medical traveler. Although Brazil is known for its high-quality plastic surgery, its innovations in the field, and its surgical safety, it is not the cheapest place in the world to receive plastic surgery. 


Malaysia has 13 JCI-accredited hospitals, with aggressive plans for facility expansion over the next five years.

Make sure you allow for possible return travel when you plan your travel budget, and be sure to keep your home town doctor or specialist informed of your medical travel decisions

Planning trip abroad?

Suggested Reading: Checklist for your International trip

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