Advancements in technology and healthcare have made numerous procedures infinitely more affordable and effective, worldwide. Studies by WHO show that a child today lives, on an average, at least 6 years longer than a child born in 1990, with low income countries showing the most remarkable progress. It is estimated that 50 million people travel abroad annually for a host of different treatments, both surgical and therapeutic.
Listed below are some of the world’s most popularly opted medical procedures:
1. Breast Augmentation
Breast augmentation refers to increasing the size of your breasts or restoring breast volume by using breast implants or fat. Saline or silicone implants are most commonly used to augment the breasts and increase their aesthetic appeal.
The process can take either a surgical or a non-invasive approach. The surgical approach affects the overall shape of the breast, whereas a non-invasive fat grafting increases the size and corrects defects of the breast hemisphere using fat drawn from the woman’s body.
According to statistics by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, breast augmentation was the most requested cosmetic surgical procedure in 2014, with 286,000 procedures being performed in the year.
Belgium, Mexico and Malaysia are most sought after for breast augmentation by medical tourists. The average cost of the procedure in the US is around 8000$, whereas the same procedure would cost only 2000$-3000$ in any one of the above mentioned destinations.
Constant innovations are taking place in the field of Breast surgery to reduce complications in the procedure and provide longer lasting results. A new breakthrough is the “wide awake boob job”, where a local anesthetic is applied only to the region that goes under the knife, thus allowing the patient to watch the surgery as it is performed on her. This also minimises any risks caused in using the general anesthetic.
Another new development in the field of breast surgery is reinforcing breast lifts with internal scaffolding, thus elevating the breasts to the upper chest wall. This has been found to decrease post-surgery drooping and sagging of breasts by half.
2. Nose Reshaping
Rhinoplasty, or nose reshaping involves modification of nasal cartilages, bones and tissues to improve the appearance of the nose or to restore its original form in case of any accidental disfigurement.
Recent developments in the field of rhinoplasty include experimentation with different types of cartilage grafts and the shift towards open rhinoplasty. In an open rhinoplasty, the surgeon first makes an external incision between the nostrils, then goes on to make further internal incisions. It allows the surgeon to have a better view of the nasal area and hence perform better reshaping.
Rhinoplasty is becoming extremely popular these days due to its simplicity and success in transforming the patient’s look altogether. A survey by the ASP in 2013 reported that 221,000 nose jobs were performed in the year.
Popular international destinations for rhinoplasty are Thailand, Mexico and Hungary, where the patient can save upto 50% of the costs incurred on the procedure in US.
3. Dental Implantation
Dental implants are faux teeth roots that are implanted into the patient’s mouth using metal posts or frames that are surgically positioned into the jawbone, beneath the gums. Dental implants look and feel like natural teeth, and since they are designed to fuse with bone, they become permanent.
Dental Implantation helps people with missing teeth regain their full smiles and self-confidence.The American Academy of Implant Dentistry reports that 3 million Americans have implants and that number is growing by 500,000 a year.
Hungary, Poland and Mexico are popular destinations for patients looking for dental implants due to very cheap rates and high quality of services provided. Here, an average dental implant surgery costs only between 500-800$.
These days, with immediate dental implantation, patients no longer have to wait for many days to undergo the entire procedure -- now the dental implant and the crown can be set in just one visit.
4. In Vitro Fertilization
In vitro fertilization or IVF is one of the most popular infertility treatments for women with blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, ovulation disorders or patients with unexplained infertility. IVF techniques are frequently employed in gestational surrogacy, in which case, the fertilized egg is implanted into a surrogate's uterus.
IVF procedure is becoming increasingly popular over the globe, due to its promising success rate. Over 50,000 women in Britain undergo IVF treatment every year.
Experts have recently discovered a new way to select the most viable embryo, which has the potential to maximize the success rate of fertility treatment, which currently stands at about 35 % of IVF cycles resulting in a pregnancy. Popular destinations for IVF are India, Brazil and Spain, where the average cost of IVF is 40% lesser than that in the US.
Angioplasty is a non-surgical procedure that can be used to open blocked heart arteries. The procedure is performed in a cardiac catheterization laboratory by a cardiologist and a team of cardiovascular nurses and technicians. Angioplasty is a lower-risk option as compared to a bypass surgery and also has a significantly high success rate.
Very recently, a newer technique for balloon angioplasty has been introduced where the balloon is coated with an anti-inflammatory drug to prevent any vascular inflammation following the procedure.
Popular international destinations for angioplasty are Germany, India, Russia and the UAE. Angioplasty in the US can cost around 40,000 USD, but only 1/10th of this cost, in the aforementioned medical tourism destinations.
6. Hip Replacement Surgery
Hip replacement aims to relieve pain, help the hip joint work better and improve movements which involve the hipbone.
Hip replacement surgery is a procedure in which a doctor removes a painful hip joint and replaces it with an artificial joint, often made from metal and plastic. It usually is done when all other treatment options, like physiotherapy, have failed to provide adequate pain relief from the injury or disorder.
Hip replacement surgery is becoming increasingly popular as it allows people with damaged hips to regain considerable mobility in the hip region. Popular destinations for hip replacement surgery are Poland, Thailand and India, where the procedure costs only around 6000 USD, as compared to a whopping 60,000 USD in the USA.
While most hip replacement surgeries today are performed using 8 to 10 inch cuts, in recent years, some doctors have been using a minimally-invasive technique in which shorter incisions are used to reduce scars and pain.
7. Gastric Bypass Surgery
It is a surgical procedure in which the stomach is divided into a small upper pouch and a lower larger pouch, with the small intestine connecting both. The operation is prescribed to treat morbid obesity, hypertension and sleep apnea.
Popular tourist destinations for the procedure are Poland, UAE and Mexico, where the procedure costs around 4000 USD. The number of bariatric surgeries increased to 179,000 in 2013.
Adjustable Gastric Band surgeries are the latest trend in gastric bypass surgeries, where surgeons insert a band around the upper stomach whose tightness can be adjusted to further improve weight loss.