The Travel Makeover: Plastic Surgery Tourism Is a Real Thing

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Plastic surgery is a major life decision. Most who opt for it spend 5-10 years considering if, how, and when they would go through with it.

As many travel internationally for more affordable prices, a new trend has emerged: Travel in search of plastic surgery.

Special agencies operate as a cross between travel agent and surgical consult, allowing consumers to save money by visiting international destinations that specialize in particular procedures. Travelers can get their operations from reputable professionals and recover in a resort or while out exploring the world.

Here are seven travel destinations that combine quality surgeries and tourism.

1. Rhinoplasty in Iran

Due to a culture of modesty, the hijab covers most of a woman’s head, making the nose very prominent. Iran has more than four times as many nose jobs than any other country, and wearing a post-operational nose bandage is seen as a status symbol.

The U.S. has a moderate travel warning to Iran, but most areas that cater to this trend are liberal enough to avoid major scrutiny.

Rhinoplasty is around $2500 to $3000, but for an additional $3500 to $4000, you get a special package that includes all hotel and transportation fees, and additional pre- and post-surgery consultation.

With the Ancient architecture, Persian ruins, and lavish palaces to see, you might as well add on the travel package along with a new nose.

2. Curves in Brazil


Photo: Getty/Mario Tama

Brazil is famous for beaches full of buxom women, and they are right behind the U.S. for the most breast augmentations, and No. 1 in buttock augmentations at over 50,000 in 2014.

Starting in the neighborhood of $4000 to $5000, a trip to Brazil for breast augmentation (including all fees associated with the surgery) comes with 4-8 nights in a luxurious hotel. They have similar packages for butt augmentation, which require a minimum seven days of recovery.

During the downtime, you can visit world famous beaches or fresh water lagoons. Perhaps the surgery could coincide with Carnival ... depends on what they mean by “recovery.”

3. Facelifts in South Korea

One in five women in South Korea has had plastic surgery. The country is so famous for its anti-aging procedures that a few years ago, Ritz-Carlton Seoul partnered with Possom Prestige Spa so travelers could recover in a luxury hotel in downtown Seoul for prices as high as $88,000. We’re not sure if the partnership still exists.

However, a facelift in South Korea costs between $2000 and $3000, as opposed to $10,000 in the U.S. If you don’t need a lavish hotel experience, the price of a once-in-a-lifetime trip plus surgery could still be more cost effective than getting it done at home.

While you’re there, see everything from ancient temples to a modern K-Pop performance. Or just explore one of their major metropolitan areas and go shopping for some new clothes to go with your new face.

4. Eyelid Surgery in China

As the middle class of China grows, the nation is slowly becoming more western. As this happens, many people are adopting certain ideals of beauty, prompting eyelid surgery.

As China continues to gain wealth, plastic surgery prices have begun to rival those in the U.S., with double eyelid surgery costing roughly $1500. Granted, for that price you could pay slightly more and stay in the U.S, but it’s nice to know that quality services are available in a prime tourist destination. And with 2 million facial reconstructions a year, it’s safe to say that China may be better versed to deal with eyelids.

5. Feminine Features in Thailand


Photo: Getty/Paula Bronstein

Thailand has long been friendly to transsexuals, making it world famous for anyone who wishes to undergo any type of surgery that involves creating a more feminine appearance.

Australian travelers prefer Thailand for $4000 breast augmentations because they face prices of $12,000 at home. Thailand is also known for Adam’s Apple shavings, cheek implants and more.

Thailand standards for plastic surgery are similar to those of the American Medical Council, but surgeries cost half of what they would cost in the states.

Post-op, visit holy sites and temples, or practice your Muay Thai, the progenitor of kickboxing. Afterward, stuff your new figure with Thai street food.

6. Tummy Tucks in Poland

The University of Leeds listed Poland as a country where international travelers experienced high levels of comfort and satisfaction in their surgical visits. In 2014, a tummy tuck costed £3,000 (about $4665) which included travel and accommodations.

Meanwhile, a tummy tuck in the U.S. costs an average of $5493. Not only is that more expensive, but it doesn’t give you the chance to explore historical WWII sites, or recover in the serene Polish countryside full of mountains, forests and lakes.

7. Everything in India

India is known to produce many fine doctors who later immigrate to the U.S. and become integral parts of our medical system. By going to them, travelers can pay as low as 10 percent of the American price for various surgeries, knowing that India is famous for the doctors it produces.

With the savings you acquire, you could live lavishly and visit the Taj Mahal, or any of the other wonders of the seventh biggest country on Earth.

Anum Yoon is a Philly-based blogger who founded Current On Currency.

Top Photo: s1ingshot CC BY