Medical tourism and plastic surgery abroad - Why are people going abroad?
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Medical tourism – why do people travel abroad for their plastic surgery?

Medical tourism is a term we are increasingly likely to hear, see in text or catch highlighted in an online article. We should not be surprised. Medical tourism has been practised by man since ancient times. To this day, it continues to enjoy unflagging interest throughout Europe, Southeast Asia, North, Central and South America. So what is medical tourism? Where to look for its beginnings? How has it evolved and where is it now developing best? What is its secret and what is the basis for its enduring success?

What is medical tourism?

Medical tourism is a term that defines the combination of tourism and medical treatment. The traveller, who is called a medical tourist, travels outside his country with the conscious aim of improving and enhancing his health or/and aesthetic appearance. Such a trip is connected with convalescence, rest, regeneration, with getting to know local attractions, monuments, natural resources, culture and traditions and with entertainment.

According to a formal definition medical tourism is, along with spa tourism, trips based on renewal in spa and wellness (state of balance of mind, body and spirit of a person), an element of health tourism.

Why do people travel abroad?

The main determinants in medical tourism are considered to be:

  • Lower prices, i.e. the possibility to receive the same treatment, with the same quality and standard of service at a much lower price
  • Having a complicated disease, e.g. oncological or cardiological, which requires specialist treatment methods, qualified professionals and appropriate equipment
  • Having very rare diseases or diseases with genetic background that require qualified personnel
  • Recommendation of friends or relatives who have undergone similar treatment
  • Better technology, higher level of medical care, more modern equipment, professional aftercare
  • More effective, efficient methods of treatment
  • Experienced doctors who specialise in a specific, very narrow field
  • Lack of insurance covering costs of a given treatment in your own country
  • Greater availability of treatments than in the home country
  • The need to change image or gender, combined with the need for intimacy
  • Lack of legalisation of certain medical procedures in the home country, for example abortion, in vitro, gender reassignment

How was medical tourism originated?

The origins of medical tourism can be traced back to ancient times. The town of Epidauros in Greece is considered to be the cradle of medical tourism. There was a temple of the Greek god of medicine Asklepios, which served as a hospital and a sanatorium. The Romans used the thermal spas and the tribes inhabiting Europe visited the hot springs.  Ayurvedic medicine and yoga developed in India.

Healing springs, hot natural baths, healthy mountain air, mineral waters. Fashionable seaside resorts in Great Britain, towns around healing springs in Austria, Germany and Switzerland – journeys connected with healing, improving health or well-being have been known to mankind since ancient times.

Where is medical tourism developing best?

Research clearly indicates that dental procedures with special emphasis on implantology and orthodontic procedures are the most popular on the medical tourism market. This is followed by plastic surgery procedures such as breast augmentation and reduction, liposuction, ear, nose and eyelid correction and face lifting. Patients also opt for gall bladder removal surgery, obesity treatment, hip and knee replacement and ophthalmology procedures.

 Western Europeans head for Eastern Europe, while US citizens go to Mexico. Thailand, India, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea are the leading Asian countries, and it is here that Americans mainly come to seek quality dental and orthopaedic care, aesthetic medicine treatments and to place themselves in the hands of specialists in obesity treatment at a much lower cost.

Ranking of medical tourism countries

The countries that top the medical tourism rankings are: Thailand, Mexico, the United States, Singapore, India, Brazil, Turkey and Taiwan.

  • Thailand‘s hospitals tempt with extremely good prices and a very wide range of treatments from all branches of medicine. It is here that many sex change operations are performed. Recovery is very pleasant – Thailand is a beautiful, friendly and very affordable country.
  • Mexico also means good prices, great experts and quality treatments, especially surgical and dental.
  • United States – this is a slightly different type of medical tourism, as prices are very high here.  The key here is the experts and great specialists for very rare diseases.
  • India – prices, prices, prices! combined with specialists in cardiac surgery.
  • Brazil is a leader in aesthetic medicine treatments. Prices plus quality are very good.
  • Turkey boasts the largest number of certified hospitals, add to this great specialists and sensational prices, and the answer will come by itself.

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