Medical tourism on the rise in South Korea

January 30, 2012

Medical tourism on the rise in South Korea
Medical tourism on the rise in South Korea

South Africa, Brazil, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Thailand are all common destinations for those looking to undergo plastic surgery but cannot afford the U.S. prices. And now, South Korea is becoming a popular medical tourism destination as well.

According to USA Today, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) reports the country is expecting more than 150,000 medical tourists in 2012. That's an increase from the 120,000 in 2011 and the 82,000 in 2010. A large majority of these foreigners are seeking plastic surgeries including breast augmentation surgery, liposuction and facelifts.

Business is so good that the KTO is estimating as many as 300,000 medical tourists will visit South Korea in 2015, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Americans make up about a third of medical tourists visiting the country. However, residents of other countries including Russia, Mongolia, Hong Kong and Vietnam are also common medical tourists.

The city of Seoul is among one of the hot spots for tourists seeking plastic surgeries. USA Today reports that the city is known as the "Beauty Belt" because it is home to more than 200 state-of-the-art plastic surgery clinics.

The newspaper reports that the plastic surgery prices at one well-known South Korean hospital are approximately one-third less expensive than in the United States.

Individuals looking for information on various hospitals and clinics in a given country can easily find it, thanks to the internet. Before long, many will book a trip to an exotic destination and look forward to the savings they'll enjoy to transform their physical appearance.

However, while the affordability of procedures performed abroad is the main reason many choose to become medical tourists, experts say individuals need to take some things into consideration before traveling outside of the U.S. for surgery.

"It really is scary to me that someone would get on an airplane and fly to a foreign country where there's no resort to help if there's a problem," an American plastic surgeon told Dateline NBC regarding plastic surgery tourism.

While there are no statistics available about problems arising from plastic surgeries performed outside of the U.S., complications such as serious infections and even death are not unheard of, according to The Huffington Post.

No matter where you decide to have a plastic surgery procedure, experts advise researching your physician's credentials and asking a lot of questions before going under the knife.

The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to

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The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world's leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body. ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; Active Members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures. International Active Members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.


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