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In the last couple of decades, many countries have actually made medical tourism a primary selling point in their tourist marketing. If you’re considering traveling abroad for cosmetic surgery, it’s crucial to first do your homework to determine whether your destination country has the resources and expertise to successfully perform your procedure. Likewise, it’s also important to factor in traveling and accommodation costs to determine how much money you’ll really save.

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It’s cheaper, but is it better?

Here’s something to consider: According to the latest numbers from Worldpopulationreview.com, the United States ranks 37th in overall healthcare quality. France ranks as No. 1, followed by Italy, San Marino, Andorra, Malta, Singapore, and Spain (the latter two are also on several lists of top medical tourism destinations). With rapidly escalating prices, concerns about quality care, and overpriced insurance, millions of prospective patients are realizing that, in many instances, healthcare abroad is not only just as good, but it’s also actually better than healthcare at home.

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Risks of cosmetic surgery abroad

As with any surgical procedure, there are always certain risks involved with cosmetic surgery. These include the possibility of infection, post-op pain, healing issues, and subsequent hospitalization. If you’re returning home right away, you’ll need to realize that you may have to deal with these costly — and often painful — post-operative issues once you’re home. That’s why many people if they can afford it, choose to prolong their stay for at least a week or two until they’ve healed sufficiently.

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Where are the medical tourism hotspots?

According to Forbes, some of the most popular medical tourism destinations include Mexico, Columbia, Thailand, and the Philippines. Likewise, the list of medical tourism hotspots from Patients Beyond Borders includes Costa Rica, India, Israel, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Turkey, while other websites include Canada, Singapore, Spain, France, and the Czech Republic. The UK has also emerged as a popular site for cosmetic procedures such as corrective jaw surgery and a host of anti-aging procedures.

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Health insurance likely won't cover elective surgery

Despite the high cost of insurance in the United States, many premiums offer only limited coverage — or even no coverage at all — for elective procedures like cosmetic surgery. You can buy affordable travel insurance and get the procedure done by traveling abroad — and still, save thousands of dollars.

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More Americans are willing to travel for cosmetic procedures

Today, an overwhelming number of Americans are more than willing to travel abroad for elective procedures. If there was any lingering distrust about overseas healthcare, this seems to have quickly evaporated, thanks to the successful track record of so many hospitals and clinics abroad. In fact, this success — and the millions of satisfied customers — is why medical tourism has become so popular in such a short time.

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You can recuperate in an exotic locale

As you may have noticed, many of these popular medical tourism destinations are in countries that are already well-known exotic tourist locales. Millions of people travel each year to countries like Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia to enjoy attractions such as pristine white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and year-long warmth and sunshine. What better way is there to recuperate than lying on the beach in a vacation paradise? Plus, most procedures require at least one follow-up visit, so many patients take advantage of this by extending their stay to include any necessary post-op appointments.

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International surgeons specialize in cosmetic surgery

Not surprisingly, cosmetic surgeons are flocking to medical tourism hotspots, so you’ll find expert doctors from all over the world practicing in these destinations. It’s a winning situation not only for international travelers but also for the overseas medical community.

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Hospitals abroad have cutting-edge technology

Millions of Americans are discovering that, despite the low cost of health procedures, the quality of healthcare is comparable or even superior to that of the US. And to keep their high ranking and attract even more medical tourists, hospitals in these medical tourism hotspots are investing in the best, most cutting-edge technology and equipment for all types of surgical procedures.

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Cosmetic surgery is much cheaper abroad

Whether you’re looking at Mexico, the Czech Republic, or Malaysia, the good news is that cosmetic surgery prices are drastically lower in other countries. According to information compiled by Westlakedermatology.com, here are some average US prices for three popular procedures:

  • Facelift: $12,250
  • Tummy tuck: $8,275
  • Nose reshaping: $7,650.

To compare, according to TreatmentAbroad.com, here are some overseas prices (not including travel, insurance, or accommodation) for the same procedures:

Facelift:

  • Czech Republic, $2,283
  • Hungary, $3,212
  • Thailand, $3,009.

Tummy tuck:

  • Czech Republic, $2,316
  • Belgium, $3,806
  • Mexico, $4,322.

Nose reshaping:

  • Czech Republic, $1,205
  • Mexico, $2,687
  • Thailand, $1,683.
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Medical tourism is a huge international industry

The numbers tell the story. According to statistics compiled by Patients Beyond Borders, a whopping 20 million people now embark on medical tourism trips each year — and according to MedicalExpress.com, 1.9 million of them are coming from the US. Likewise, according to Patients Beyond Borders, medical tourism continues to grow globally at a rate of 15 to 25 percent.

Latin American senior couple traveling by plane wearing facemasks and looking through the window - travel during the COVID-19 pandemic Hispanolistic / Getty Images

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