Mexico, Thailand and the Philippines are some of the biggest medical and dental tourism destinations.
· HERALD SUN
· MARCH 25, 2014 12:00AM
MEDICAL AND DENTAL Tourism is becoming a global industry much the same as other commodities imported and exported abroad.
Cost is king in this world order and technological advances mean a growing number of cosmetic dental and plastic surgeries are being carried out in developing economies throughout Asia.
Cosmetic dentistry and elective plastic surgery can be hugely expensive and the evolving cultural acceptance of having a facelift, breast augmentation or extensive oral restoration has seen more and more Australians taking off overseas for their chosen makeover.
An estimated 15,000 Australians — believed to be a conservative figure — travel overseas each year for so-called medical tourism.
Many head to Thailand or Philippine doctors and dentists to undergo breast enlargement or reduction and a range of specialist dental procedures from cosmetic dentistry to dental implants and oral surgery.
Bangkok dentists are almost outnumbered by the Buddhist temples (over 400)
A University of Technology Sydney study by Dr Meredith Jones last year found Australians were spending anything from $6000 to $20,000, including flights and accommodation, to undergo cosmetic dentistry and plastic surgeries overseas.
But the emerging medical export markets in Southeast Asia and India have not been without their risks.
The AMA also has a legitimate argument to mount regarding the dangers of turning healthcare into a “commodity” and where the limits might stop.
Health is too important for important surgical and dental work to be simply exported to the cheapest country. One needs to be careful to avoid general practitioner doctors and dentists offshore who often pose as specialists without proper training and certification.
Certainly, people need to make sure the cosmetic service they are accessing overseas has a reliable history and requisite levels of technological skill and equipment. The best way to accomplish that is to use the services of a board certified doctor or dentist.
For many Australians taking up the overseas option, is because costs would be prohibitive here. Of course, one of the reasons we have a relatively expensive elective surgery system in this country is because it is a First World system.
People need to be very cautious about any form of cosmetic surgery, whether here or overseas. Surgery is never completely without risk and standard medical advice is if you don't need it, don’t have it.
The upside of the controversial medical tourism market should produce downward pressure on costs in Australia.
Cosmetic dentistry and surgery has had a reputation of being a gold mine for practitioners.
But the same competition principles work across all other industries and the cosmetic dentistry and surgery sectors in Australia are not immune.
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