Everyone wants to look their best when they travel, but did you know that some people cross oceans, time zones and cultures for the sole purpose of improving their appearances? As health care costs in developed countries skyrocket (to say nothing of the vain tendencies of first-world populations), healthcare providers in developing countries have seen a surge in "medical tourism," particularly for medical procedures of a cosmetic nature.
This sort of tourism is not without its critics. While beneficiaries point to lower costs and less-intrusive bureaucracy, domestic medical providers raises concerns about the safety of procedures performed in countries with poor regulation, citing everything from outdated therapeutic techniques, to expired licensure, to overall poor hygiene.
Even if the idea of getting your face cut up in Korea doesn't sound good to you, take a moment to read about the fascinating world of plastic surgery tourism.
01 of 04
Breast Augmentation in Hungary
The practice of breast augmentation, colloquially known as "getting a boob job," has been ubiquitous in Western culture for decades at this point. Unfortunately for women who want to permanently increase their bust size, prices have kept pace with demand, with the average U.S. boob job going for upwards of $10,000 as of 2013.
Several places around the world offer more affordable breast augmentation surgery, but one of the cheapest is Hungary, where it costs between €600-€2,650 ($800-$3,600 at today's exchange rate) to get a boob job. Hungary is also reputedly one of the safety countries to get a cheap breast augmentation, with practicing doctors legally required to have five years of general surgery experience, and another three years of dedicated plastic surgery experience.
02 of 04
Gender Reassignment Surgery in Thailand
Thailand is one of the most tolerant countries in Asia, particularly when it comes to LGBT rights, but this isn't the only reason so many trans people choose to vist the Land of Smiles.
A major contributing factor is Bangkok Hospital, located in the beach resort of Pattaya, which performs more gender reassignment surgeries than anywhere in the world, and is home to a dedicated team of surgeons who have performed thousands of operations between them. Thailand is also the cheapest place to have gender reassignment surgery, owing both to the relatively common nature of the procedure in Thailand, as well as the low local cost base.
03 of 04
Dental Tourism in India
You might not think of India when you think of dental tourism, but in fact India is one of the cheapest places to get your teeth done, whether the nature of your work is discretionary or medically necessary. Dental implants, for example, cost less than half the price of what they do in the U.S. in India, which means that even if you fly to India and stay in a nice hotel for the entire duration of your dental procedure, you still end up coming out on top.
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Facial Plastic Surgery in Korea
A rumor among some Korean people is that when you graduate college, your parents will gift you one of two things: A paid trip around the world or facial plastic surgery. Regardless of how true this is in real life, Korea has nonetheless become a mecca for people seeking facial plastic surgery, particularly within Asia
Styles and standards for beauty vary from place to place, but one thing that unites us all is our desire to look our best, no matter what that is. Which, as we see, is not usually how we emerged from the womb.