It’s estimated that globally five million people sought medical treatment abroad in 2015. Today, more and more people are exploring their options and traveling abroad for more affordable medical and dental treatments, a higher quality of healthcare and to avoid waiting lists. There are a number of advantages to medical tourism, besides the world-class specialists and facilities on offer at reduced rates, many are drawn by the relaxed environments in which they can recuperate, and the privacy afforded by being so far from home. It is important, however, to make sure that the hospitals and doctors are either internationally accredited or have the highest national accreditations to ensure that you’re getting treatment that is either as good as or better than in the UK before jetting off.
We decided to take a look at the ten most popular procedures that people travel abroad for and some of the destinations where tourists go to have these procedures.
Cosmetic and plastic surgery has become increasingly popular over the years and nowadays there are a range of procedures available. When someone has a positive outlook and realistic expectations of what surgical and non-surgical procedures can achieve, those seeking cosmetic or reconstructive surgery benefit from increased self-esteem. One of the most common cosmetic procedures people travel abroad for is breast augmentation. The goal of breast augmentation is to enhance the fullness and shape of the breasts, improve the proportions of the body and boost self-confidence. This can be achieved by inserting implants into the breasts and also using fat transfer. Top destinations for breast augmentation include South Korea, Brazil, and Thailand, where visitors can expect to pay up to 70% less than in the UK.
The World Health Organization estimates that 16.7 million people die of heart disease around the world each year and cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Europe. The most common types of cardiac surgery that medical tourists travel abroad for include coronary artery bypass grafting, coronary angioplasty, and the implantation of pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators. Patients can find highly skilled cardiovascular specialists and pay up to 80% less than in the UK and the US in a number of major medical travel destinations, including Mexico, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, Turkey, Thailand, and South Korea.
Hair restoration surgery has improved vastly over the past five years and as a result it has become an incredibly popular procedure. Nowadays hair transplants can permanently restore the hair of men and women with partial baldness by transplanting new follicles into balding or thinning areas. Specialists deem a transplant successful when 85 to 95 percent of transplanted roots grow new hair. The procedure is recommended for anyone who wants a permanent, natural-looking solution to partial baldness. Turkey has become a hub for hair transplant surgery as it’s home to some of the most experienced hair transplant specialists in the world. And with the average cost of the procedure at up to 80% less than in the UK it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular destination.
In Vitro Fertilization - in which a woman's eggs are surgically removed and fertilized in a laboratory using sperm before being implanted into the woman's womb - is a notoriously expensive procedure. It’s not surprising then that couples wishing to have children travel around the world for fertility treatment. Along with IVF, other popular treatments and tests include egg freezing, donor egg IVF and embryo donation, fertility assessment, semen analysis, and preimplantation genetic diagnosis. Germany, Poland, Spain, and India are amongst the countries in which offer specialized fertility treatment at a fraction of the cost of the UK and US.
Dental treatments and oral surgery can be expensive in the UK and many aren’t covered by the National Health Service, so traveling further afield to find affordable, high-quality dental care has become an increasingly popular option. Whether you’re missing teeth or experiencing pain as a result of injury or tooth decay or you’re looking to enhance the appearance of your smile, there are a number of dental procedures available internationally that can give you a natural-looking smile whilst allowing you to eat and talk comfortably. Common dental procedures which people travel abroad for include veneers, tooth implants, crowns, tooth whitening and braces. Hungary and Mexico offer high-quality dental procedures at a fraction of the cost of the UK and US.
In the twenty-first century, techniques for the early detection of a range of diseases have led to prompt treatment and improved survival rates. Preventive medicine is becoming increasingly popular, and many hospitals abroad offer thorough physical exams at discount prices. A number of people travel further afield to in order to access the most technologically advanced equipment and pay less for tests and scans including blood tests, ultrasounds, cancer screening, mammography, endoscopy, gastroscopy, colonoscopy, ulcer assessment, EKGs, diagnostic X-rays, and CT, MRI and PET scans. Several hospitals in for example Thailand, Malaysia and Mexico offer fixed-price checkup and screening packages for medical tourists.
Liposuction sculpts the body by removing stubborn, unwanted fat deposits from a range of areas, including the abdomen, hips, thighs, calves, arms, buttocks, back or face. There are various types of liposuction available, including some techniques that use ultrasound and lasers which help to break down fatty tissue so that it can be removed more easily. The procedure is recommended for patients who are of a normal weight or slightly overweight but have stubborn fat deposits that don’t respond to diet or exercise. Liposuction should not be viewed as a weight-loss treatment and since surgeons can only remove a certain amount of fat it is not recommended for those who are obese. It can, however, effectively sculpt and refine body shape. Brazil, South Korea and Thailand offer medical tourists the treatment at up to 70% of the cost in the UK.
Nearly 40% of the world’s population will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their lives. When it comes to treating this deadly disease time is of the essence so many patients opt to travel abroad for treatment to avoid being put on a waiting list in their own country. The high cost of treatment is another significant reason that many people seek out treatment away from home. A number of patients travel to other parts of the world to receive oncology treatment including radiotherapy, chemotherapy and CyberKnife treatment. A few of the world’s leading cancer treatment centers can be found in Germany, Turkey, South Korea and the United States.
Orthopedic surgery can control or treat a variety of conditions including degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, fractures, rheumatoid arthritis, and ligament injuries. Mexico, India, Thailand and Poland are amongst the popular tourist destinations for those wishing to undergo various orthopedic surgeries, including but not limited to hip replacement, knee replacement, shoulder joint replacement, hip resurfacing and anterior cruciate ligament repair. Medical tourists seeking orthopedic surgery abroad can avoid being put on waiting lists pay a significant amount less than in the UK and US.
Bariatric surgery or weight-loss surgery helps patients with extreme obesity to lose weight. There are various types of gastric bypass surgery in which the surgeon makes changes to the stomach or intestine or both in order to restrict the intake of food. The surgery is recommended only when patients have tried non-surgical methods of weight-loss such as a change of diet and regular exercise, and they have failed to see results. This surgery is an option for people who suffer from serious health problems related to obesity. People who undergo the procedure will have to make permanent lifestyle changes to their diet and exercise routine in order to maintain the results of the surgery. A few of the countries with specialists in weight-loss surgery include Malaysia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Thailand and India, where the average saving is around 70% compared to prices in the UK.