Cosmetic Surgery Takes Off In South Africa
By Ricardo Silva
Only in our global economy could the idea of medical tourism take off. The newest trend is patients traveling to South Africa for cosmetic surgical procedures.
Medical tourism has become a popular trend in the last five years. The reason for the popularity has to do primarily with prices. It is no secret that health care prices in the United States are simply outrageous. In the case of cosmetic surgery, this even more significant given the fact that health insurance usually does not pick up the tab for the procedures.
One way to combat these high costs is to travel to a country where the same procedures are offered at a cheaper rate. The price difference is usually not derivative of the quality of medical care provided. Instead, the price often has to do with the difference in currency exchange rates and the simple fact health care prices are generally lower in the country in question. Popular locations for medical tourism include India, Thailand and Costa Rica among others.
In the cosmetic surgery field, South Africa has burst onto the scene as a medical tourism destination. In this case, we are talking particularly about Cape Town. The number of individuals traveling to the city for cosmetic surgery have doubled or tripled in the last year. The primary impetus for this change appears to be the pricing of the procedures. The South African Rand has significantly less value than the Dollar or Euro. Given the fact that health care prices are also generally lower, cosmetic procedures can end up running as much as 60 percent less than in the United States. Throw in a safari and you have a pretty attractive package.
As with any surgery, cosmetic surgery carries some inherent risks. This immediately raises the question of quality in relation to physicians and facilities in South Africa. In general, surgeons and such are considered competent. Many are educated in America or Britain, much as is found with doctors in India and Thailand. That being said, you must perform your due diligence before opting for cosmetic surgery in South Africa. Remember, you are a long way from home, so things can get complex if the procedure does not go well.
Clearly, South Africa has added its name to the medical tourism list of destinations. Whether it becomes as popular as India remains to be seen.