There are a handful of Asian countries whose citizens particularly value the potential for improving their looks and self-esteem by going under the knife. There are also some other places that have simply taken the opportunity to cash in on the explosive growth of international patients seeking elective procedures overseas. Whatever the case may be, four leading medical-travel destinations have thriving cosmetic/plastic surgery networks and have become hotspots for that kind of treatment.
In Thailand, cosmetic plastic surgery centers abound, which makes sense. Thais, particularly Thai women, place a high value on their appearance, which means there are customers aplenty for all the many facilities. And with that, there’s lots of competition. This has created a sort of buyers market for anyone looking for a nip or a tuck, especially for medical tourists who are converging on Bangkok in huge numbers to take advantage of the top-shelf doctors, state-of-the-art clinics, and low prices. Oh, the prices. Case in point: abdominoplasty in Australia…$8,500 USD; abdominoplasty in Thailand…$3,500. A buttock lift in America will set you back $11K, and in Thailand you can expect to knock about $7-8 grand off that cost. And the list goes on. Just remember the following about cosmetic surgery in the Land of Smiles: tons of modern clinics and highly-skilled surgeons, not a ton of dough.
Reconstructive surgical procedures were being performed in India as far back as 800 B.C. In modern times, as long ago as the late 18th century, Western physicians traveled there to witness rhinoplasties conducted using traditional methods. This rich history may or may not have anything to do with the successful culture of cosmetic/plastic surgery there today, but whatever the reason, India has an impressive array of top quality surgeons and clinics in this field. In all the big metropolitan areas, there are numerous facilities, often with American Board certified surgeons specializing in various kinds of facial surgery: from blepharoplasty to facelifts, and from cleft lip procedures to scar removal, India is a reliable destination with high standards. And of course big savings, too.
Malaysia is a relative newcomer to cosmetic surgery as a medical tourism option and is becoming the go-to location for people from Singapore, a place usually on the receiving end of travelers on healthcare holiday. However, for certain treatments in which its medical system does not specialize, it plays the role of customer. Kuala Lumpur saw nearly 6,000 Singaporean medical travelers last year, many of them going for affordable cosmetic plastic surgery treatments. Going forward, that number is expected to rise, and Malaysia might also see an increase in plastic surgery patients from other neighboring countries as their citizens become more affluent. And, as with Thailand, the big draw for Malaysia is affordability. Breast augmentation there goes for $4,000, but it’s twice that in Singapore. The same goes for tummy tucks and eyelid surgery (over twice as costly in Singapore as it is in Malaysia).
And speaking of eyelid surgery, South Korea has become the favored destination for that procedure, and many others. Largely due to the recent “Korean Wave” of surgically-enhanced beauties in their pop-culture, South Korean plastic surgeons have become world-renowned specialists in Rhinoplasty, Tip Plasty (a Korean technique used to change the size and shape of the tip of one’s nose), and the aforementioned eyelid surgery. Because of the emergence of this bustling industry, South Korea medical tourism is reaping major benefits. Not only are Koreans keeping their plastic surgeons busy (the good citizens there have edged out Italy, Greece, and America as the world’s most surgically enhanced), but medical travelers are taking notice as South Korea sets itself up as a medical tourism hub to be reckoned with due to its expertise and its price competitiveness and quality.