Most people return from their vacations abroad with a memory card full of digital photos and a few quirky souvenirs. While others come back with a dazzling set of beautifully capped teeth or newly found mobility from knee surgery – and a wallet that’s much less empty than if they’d had the same procedures done at home.
Medical tourism (traveling across international borders to obtain medical treatment) is currently a $40 billion market in the US, it’s expected to reach or top $100 billion by the end of 2016!
Here are a few common questions and concerns about Medical Tourism…
Popularity of Dental Care Abroad
Patients who want to give Medical Tourism a try will often try a dental care procedure first. It is one of the most common and ever-increasing areas of medical tourism today. The benefit typically found when getting dental work done abroad is that most facilities will have various different dental specialties located in the same office. Typically in the US, you will go to your regular dentist who will refer you to an Oral Surgeon, who might then refer you to yet another professional to get the work you need done. One stop shopping is certainly more convenient. Spending your recovery time in a spa or wellness retreat is a bonus to now having those beautiful teeth you’ve always wanted at a fraction of the cost you would pay back home.
What is Hip Resurfacing?
Hip resurfacing is something to consider when facing the choice of a total hip replacement. Unlike the traditional total hip replacement surgery, hip resurfacing (also known as surface replacement arthroplasty) involves only replacing the top of the worn and painful ball joint with a chrome alloy cap. With total hip replacement, the recovery period is longer, bone mass is lost and possible complications increase. Hip resurfacing in the US is not as popular among surgeons as total hip replacement and it may be harder to find doctors trained in this specialty procedure. By going abroad, you may have access to newer and more advanced surgeries than are currently available in the US and at a significantly lower cost. Suitability for hip resurfacing vs. total hip replacement can be determined by your doctor and is decided based on the patient’s anatomy and ability to recover from the surgery.
What is cosmetic surgery?
This broad term for Medical Tourism covers all plastic surgery procedures designed to improve or enhance personal appearance. From facelifts, breast augmentation, uplift or reduction to tummy tucks and liposuction; combining cosmetic surgery with a getaway to an exotic land may be an option for several reasons. Services abroad can save 50-80% of US or UK prices. For example, a full facelift that would cost $12,000 in the US runs about $1,800 in Brazil (an 85% savings!). Having cosmetic surgery done while on vacation allows you to come back home with both your body and your mind changed for the better.
Known as “The Land of Smiles”, Thailand boasts one of the fastest growing segments of Medical Tourism in the world. Popular tourist destinations of Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Samui, and Chiang Mai combined with excellent hospital facilities and high standards of care put Thailand at the top of the list for many choosing to have medical procedures performed abroad.
*Vaccinations and entry requirements
- Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Typhoid are recommended only if dining outside of major hotels or restaurants
- There are no required vaccinations.
*Useful links for entry and exit requirements information:
*Thailand procedures of excellence
Cosmetic surgery, advanced dental care, gastric bypass surgery, heart surgery, hip replacement, ophthalmology, dialysis, pediatric and adult cardiology, as well as post-surgical retreats are all part of what makes Thailand a top choice for Medical Tourism decisions.
*Notable facilities in Thailand
Bangkok Hospital Medical Center (BMC). Since 1971, this 500-bed JCI accredited hospital has held the distinction of being one of the most technologically sophisticated healthcare centers in the world. Sixteen specialized centers provide internationally trained physicians in cardiology, orthopedics, neurology and more.
Bangkok International Dental Center (BIDC). This dental complex boasts a seven-story dental clinic, hotel, bank, laboratory and restaurant. Dental specialties include dental implants, crowns and restorations.
Phuket International Hospital (PIH). With specialties in cardiology, plastic surgery, LASIX eye surgery, neurosurgery, and pediatrics, PIH treats more than 2,000 patients a year from the US and Canada.
*Transportation to and around Thailand
Transportation to and from the airport is typically handled by the hospital where you receive treatment or the medical travel agent booking the package. While in Bangkok, the Sky Train is an excellent way to see the city. And for the adventurous, the motorized 3-wheeled Tuk-Tuks give a true taste of Thailand to those traveling short distances.
*Cultural hints to know about Thailand before you go
Traditions and Customs
In Thai culture, the head is considered sacred and should not be touched casually.
The soles of the feet are seen as an unclean part of the body and should not be exposed to others as this is a sign of disrespect.
The traditional Thai greeting of bowing slightly with hands clasped in front as if folded in prayer is called the wai. The higher the hands are held in front of the face and deeper the bow, the more respect is being shown to the receiver. The wai may also be used to say “Thank You” or apologize.