Many people are looking for ways to see the world. Some use their time in college to join study abroad programs as a way to spend an extended amount of time in a foreign country, while others save up just enough to quit a job for six months or a year and go backpacking. Still others train for jobs that allow them the opportunity to travel extensively or even work at global branch offices. All may provide for an immersive experience, although in different ways. And for some people, a few days of superficial sightseeing simply isn’t enough to satisfy an adventurous soul that craves the globe-trotting experience. The vast majority of travelers, however, get by with short trips when they can scrounge the money for airline tickets and hotels. But there is a new breed of tourist entering the travel scene of late, and if you haven’t heard of medical tourism you might be in for something of a shock.
Traditionally, people from underdeveloped areas of the world have traveled to more advanced nations is search of cutting-edge medical care. They may be villagers from the remote reaches of the world journeying to nearby cities or even other countries seeking cures for ailments from brain tumors that result in gigantism to warty skin growths that look like tree bark. More often than not it’s the “wealthy elite” looking for the top specialists in a particular field to fix their medical problems at any cost, possibly because the medical professionals or facilities in their area simply don’t measure up in terms of knowledge, experience, and technology. But medical tourism is just the opposite.
This strange and growing trend revolves around patients from wealthy and privileged nations going to less developed countries seeking low-cost medical procedures. And it’s not just women looking for cheapo nip/tuck surgeries or treatments that are illegal in their own country (like tapeworm weight loss regimens…eww). There are definitely people going to other nations for elective procedures, but many are also opting to travel for serious treatments like heart surgeries and joint replacement, just for example. And although many medical tourists are aware that this strategy could prove hazardous to their health (and leave them with little chance of recourse should something go awry), it’s surprising how many people are willing to take the risk.
Of course, it’s not all about the money. Certainly some people are keen to save a few bucks on a necessary surgery (and sneak in a vacay during their medical leave, to boot). But others are looking for the best doctors in the world when it comes to treating certain conditions, and in many cases these medical professionals can be found in other countries, even if those countries happen to be less well-off economically or less developed technologically. So whether you happen to be seeking discount cosmetic procedures like thread lifts and tummy tucks or you’re interested in finding the best facelift surgeon and best open-heart surgeons on the planet, medical tourism might be right up your alley. At the very least it could offer you the opportunity to recuperate in some gorgeous foreign locale. And at best it could offer you the life-saving surgery you seek at a price you can afford.