Researchers say that Thailand is fast becoming the destination of choice for young Australian women that are planning cosmetic surgeries. It is estimated that up to 15,000 Australians travel overseas for cosmetic procedures each year, spending a combined approximate amount of around $300 million. Nations like Thailand have been offering package holiday and surgery deals, which look more attractive and palatable for some. Now we are even beginning to see agents organising package tours, where groups of people undertaking similar operations travel and have fun on holiday, whilst bonding with others also having surgery. It can be described as an almost ‘Contiki-like’ tour that provides a bonding experience with like-minded people. The most popular operation on these types of vacations would be breast augmentation surgeries.
Contrary to popular belief, the majority of these surgeries aren’t performed by dodgy doctors in alleyways. Most procedures take place in high-quality international hospitals and by qualified doctors. As far as the risks associated with undergoing surgery, there are many. This fact does not change, wherever you decide to go. Most of the time, these are no greater in Thailand than they are in Australia. There are a few physical risks specifically associated with traveling long distances soon after surgery though. For instance, the risk of embolism can be higher. Furthermore, if something were to go wrong, you would be unable to visit the same doctor again without getting on a very long flight. In this scenario, a local doctor would need to become involved, which can result in a higher cost to the patient.
When it comes to health, the price should never be one of your first concerns. Although surgery in Thailand is inexpensive, often the risks can be irreparable and even life-threatening. There are many horror stories of surgeries overseas, involving both facial and body procedures. The lack of regulation in Thailand has been exposed by many cases in recent years and often doctors are not as experienced as they claim to be. Furthermore, hygiene in some hospitals is of a very low standard. When a British woman by the name of Joy Williams went into the SP Clinic, located in Bangkok in October 2014, she had undergone a ‘straight forward’ cosmetic operation. The surgery was carried out at a modern facility and was a reasonable price. Unfortunately, her wounds became infected and she died under anesthetic whilst the clinic tried to repair what had gone wrong. Such tragedy caused an uproar in the media, with Dr. Sansiri being charged with recklessly causing her death. In the end, it turned out that he was not licensed to carry out that form of surgery. Other potential difficulties to consider would be the obstacle of potential communication barriers. With patients being foreign and not able to speak the native language, when it comes to medicine and any discussion relating to the specifics of the procedure, there is the potential for misunderstanding and confusion.
It is said that patients can save between 30 and 70 percent, depending on the hospital and expertise of the surgeon. Breast augmentation surgery, for example, can cost around $10,000 in Australia, while in Thailand you pay less than $4,000. Although breast augmentation recovery should occur at home, in a safe and comfortable location, many people still choose a hotel in Thailand to recover instead. An unknown hotel resort in Thailand may not be as safe or have the resources recommended for a smooth recovery. Exposure to potential dirty or unsanitary areas post breast augmentation, regardless of the country you are in, can lead to extreme post-op complications. Those who travel back home to Australia too soon after surgery are also at risk, as travel can put unwanted strain on the recently operated area. As flights can take up to 9 hours or longer with stops and hold-ups, this type of strain can potentially extend healing time. The pressure can even cause implants to burst or develop other complications. There is also the potential for an urgent issue to arise in the air, which would mean your surgeon is miles away, and in no position to help you. Several illegitimate practices may also try to manipulate clients, with patients being quoted a low amount for the procedure and then asked to pay additional costs after the operation.
Once travel restrictions ease, many Aussies are planning to embark on cosmetic journeys in Thailand. Surprisingly it’s not just the Aussies that embrace medical tourism. The industry is estimated to bring in almost $90 billion a year. A recent international travel insight report by Visa predicted a 25% increase in medical tourists every year for the next decade. The Australian Society of plastic surgery (ASPS), is warning people about the most common complications arising from cosmetic surgery. These include scarring, bleeding, infection, skin loss, blood clots, permanent numbness, and the risk of going under anesthesia.
With cosmetic surgery and dental costs being significantly lower in Thailand compared to Australia, it is clear that this cost difference indicates a lack of quality somewhere along the way. Western countries are tied up in overwhelming administrative and insurance costs, and surgeons charge fees in line with their skill and knowledge. Other reasons for undergoing a local procedure include the lack of trust in foreign countries. The service level, expertise, and professionalism of doctors can significantly differ across various hospitals. Those who claim that they can perform fat transfers or butt implants may only have qualifications to perform breast implant surgeries.
The main advantage of undergoing surgery in Thailand comes with the low cost of the procedures, alongside the fact there is no tax on treatments. Generally, you can be guaranteed any service that you desire. With private hospitals often being too expensive for locals, there is usually a short waiting list for patients. In saying this, it is fair to say that no ‘cheap’ price is worth risking your health or your life.