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Cosmetic surgery is more popular than ever. 18.1 million procedures took place in the US alone in 2019. However, as we all know, it doesn’t come cheap. Increasing numbers of Americans are heading abroad for more affordable surgery, also known as cosmetic tourism.
The idea is that you combine a vacation with a cosmetic procedure and save money in the process. That may sound great, but things don’t always go as planned. There’s a lot to consider before booking a surgery and several risks to take into consideration.
If cosmetic tourism is something you’re considering, this article is here to help you get to grips with the basics. There’s a lot to think about and this isn’t a decision to take lightly. This judgement-free guide is here to help you sift through the information and make informed choices, so let’s dive in.
Admittedly, flying abroad, enjoying a vacation and coming back looking like a new-and-improved version of yourself sounds lovely. In fact, an estimated 1.4 million Americans participate in cosmetic tourism every year. According to Patients Beyond Borders, medical tourism is growing at a rate of 15-25% per year.
Treatments are up to 80% cheaper abroad than in the US, which explains why so many Americans are making the trip. This is down to a range of reasons, including tax, cost of living, cost of labor and levels of regulation.
Cost is the biggest driver of cosmetic tourism. Cheaper isn’t always better, but it’s not necessarily worse, either. If you visit a country with a lower cost of labor and medicine, you might be able to find an excellent doctor for a fraction of what you’d pay in the states.
It’s important to do your research. Whether you decide to undergo surgery abroad or at home, it’s vital that you understand what you’re getting into.
One of the biggest dangers of cosmetic tourism is the lack of regulations in some countries. Cosmetic surgery in the USA is very heavily regulated but this isn’t the case worldwide.
Cosmetic surgery may be cheaper abroad but it can end up costing more if things go wrong. Make sure you understand your hospital’s aftercare policy and ask your surgeon for as much information as possible.
It’s also not really a vacation. After your surgery, you won’t be allowed to do any sunbathing or strenuous physical activity for at least a few weeks. It’s hard to have the time of your life when you’re recovering from an operation.
Cosmetic tourism can also be stressful. Surgery is unsettling and traveling to an unfamiliar country may add to your anxiety.
Cosmetic surgery in Brazil is up to 50% cheaper than it is in America. It’s the world’s most popular destination for rhinoplasty, liposuction and, of course, Brazilian butt lifts.
Regulations in Brazil are decidedly more lax than in the USA. My advice would be to go to a doctor who’s a registered member of the Brazilian Society of Plastic Surgery. In order to gain this status, doctors must complete three years residency, two years in plastic surgery and then pass a final exam.
Thailand is almost as famous for plastic surgery as it is for beaches and temples. It’s an especially popular destination for Australians seeking a nip/tuck. On average, cosmetic work is 60% cheaper in Thailand and many of the hospitals are state-of-the-art.
When I was in Pattaya, I was surprised at how many walk-in surgery clinics there were around. You could go get a procedure done in the middle of the mall – it was crazy to see. However, I still definitely recommend doing extensive research first!
Prague is one of the most popular places in Europe for plastic surgery. It boasts all the benefits of a modern city and has first-rate facilities at Eastern European prices. A tummy tuck costs roughly $6,000 in the USA but in Prague you can expect to pay around $3,200.
Wherever you choose to get your procedure done, it’s important to do as much research as possible and consult the surgeon beforehand. Here are a few things to remember:
What are your thoughts on cosmetic tourism? I’d love to know!
Until you’re ready for a facelift, why not check out my article on the best skincare products for real results?
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Your Luxe Lifestyle was founded by luxury world traveler Isabella Garofanelli bringing you the very best the globe has to offer in travel, lifestyle, and wellness.
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