During a turbulent economy, many Americans are giving up their travel plans to save on costs and expenses for the year, and the medical tourism industry is is taking a hit. Medical tourism was once considered the 'ultimate' vacation for many, an all-inclusive package that allowed you to head off to an exotic locale for an extended stay while undergoing your plastic or cosmetic procedure.
Venues including Brazil, Argentina, Thailand and India were on the top of the list for many avid travelers, but tighter budgets this year have resulted in a significant drop in demand for otherwise low-cost procedures. Increasing flight and hotel prices may even outpace the cost of the procedure, leaving travelers with few options for saving money on their 'makeover vacation.'
Add the financial crisis in several parts of Asia, and the medical tourism is experiencing its own 'crash'.
Business Week recently reported on the issue, stating that:
"You might think tough economic times would make more people interested in saving money by having their operations in low-cost hospitals in Asia. But with the U.S. unemployment rate at 6.5% and rising, more Americans cannot afford to be jetting off to Asia for health care right now, says Toral. While the price of an Asian operation might save uninsured American patients tens of thousands of dollars, the out-of-pocket expenses might still amount to $10,000."
As many Americans refuse to travel to get the procedures they need, some are turning to U.S. doctors and surgeons for surgery alternatives. Instead of pursuing facial plastic surgery that can cost upward of $8,000, many men and women are settling for facelift alternatives such as Botox or the 'liquid facelift' that offer temporary, but instant results. Liposuction and breast augmentation are other popular procedures that many Americans once traveled the far corners of the world for; alternative, low-cost options now include treatments such as VelaShape for body contouring and fat injections in lieu of breast implants.