M any people around the world have picked Thailand as one country they must see at some point in their life. They've seen the pictures of sun-swept tropical beaches and azure seas, and they've heard about the vibrant culture and delicious cuisine of Thailand. But some people travel to Thailand for an entirely different reason. Some of the many visitors to Thailand head directly to a hospital or clinic upon arrival in the Kingdom. They’re visiting to have a breast augmentation, rhinoplasty or some other type of aesthetic procedure or surgery performed. Thailand is the third most popular destination for aesthetic surgery in the world. Only the US and South Korea are ahead of it, and it’s gaining on South Korea. One source suggests that the global market for medical tourism is worth approximately 13 billion US dollars. Thailand has been estimated to receive up to 600 million of the business that includes all sorts of medical procedures, including aesthetic surgeries.
Many years ago, Thailand was known in certain circles as the place you went to have cut-rate plastic surgery performed. The country gained a somewhat seedy reputation internationally for having low-quality medical care. The reputation was unfair because while these botched plastic surgery operations did take place, they were a miniscule part of the country’s overall medical care and facilities. Unfortunately, the people that received these procedures were often foreigners looking for the cheapest procedures they could find. When the operations didn’t turn out the way they hoped, they spread the reputation of Thailand offering sub-standard medical care. Over the last twenty years, Thailand has invested plenty of money and resources in making its medical community into one of world-class standards. Thailand now has over sixty gold standard medical facilities offering the latest procedures and the finest care to their patients. The country also has hundreds of smaller and well-regarded facilities with a large number of experienced doctors and surgeons who have been internationally trained. All this effort has successfully boosted the medical reputation of the country.
Medical tourism has become a global phenomenon largely because of two main factors – price and availability. The US was once the destination of choice for everyone who wanted to enjoy the best in medical care for both necessary medical procedures and aesthetic procedures. But the US has since gained a reputation for runaway costs resulting in the exorbitant prices the country now charges for the most basic medical treatment. Foreigners who once regularly journeyed to the US for treatment began to look around the world for alternative destinations. In the past twenty years or so, more people around the world have access to and are able to afford some of the procedures that provide them with a better quality of life. The procedures include both necessary and aesthetic procedures. The demand for these procedures has grown to the point that in some countries, there are waiting lists to have them performed.
When patients started looking around for alternative facilities to have these procedures performed, they found that other countries had many facilities that were qualified and well-regarded by the international medical community.They also discovered that these well-equipped and well-staffed facilities sometimes charged much less for the procedure than a hospital in their home country. Thailand was one of these countries ready to welcome foreign patients into their facilities. And as there were so many qualified facilities and doctors, the procedures could be scheduled at any time the patients chose. By traveling to Thailand for their procedure, the patient could have it when it was convenient for them and pay much less than they would at home. The concept of medical tourism took off as people began to travel to take care of their medical needs instead of simply accepting what was available at home.