Aesthetic Medicine and Medical Tourism

Currently, three defining trends can be observed in the world of aesthetic medicine. Firstly, over the last two decades there has been a steep rise in the annual number of procedures performed in most countries across the world. Secondly, during the same time period, many innovative alternatives to existing surgical procedures have been developed, owing to pathbreaking research in aesthetic medicine.

Whether the alternative to a facelift is a radio frequency signal in Thailand or a high-intensity frequency ultrasound(HIFU) in Singapore, the global trend in developed and developing countries is a shift from surgical treatments to non-invasive methods. Finally, medical professionals in certain countries are able to perform certain cosmetic procedures with a world class expertise at a much smaller price than many developed countries. As a result, a medical tourism industry in aesthetic medicine is thriving.

Statistics reveal that in the year 2015, the United States of America is the country with the most number of cosmetic procedures with around 4 million procedures done. The interesting fact is that developing countries like Thailand and Mexico are among the countries where the largest number of aesthetic procedures is performed. A very significant percentage of the procedures performed in these countries are due to medical tourism.

The rest of the article will look into the medical tourism industry in a few countries with booming medical tourism industries.


In the United States of America, the demand for cosmetic treatments is very high and continues to increase every year. However, given the rising costs of all medical treatment, many people choose a country with more affordable cosmetic procedures. Mexico is able to provide cosmetic and other medical procedures at affordable costs for many Americans. Since both these countries are neighbours, the future of medical tourism in Mexico looks very promising. On the negative side, the current drug war and the resulting rise in the crime rate might make potential customers hesitant to travel to Mexico. The prevention of and the compensation for medical negligence also needs to be improved.


Thailand’s journey to becoming one of the top destinations in the world for medical tourism started in 1998 after the Asian Financial Crisis. After experiencing a major economic collapse, the country decided to use medical tourism to stimulate growth. Twenty years later, Thailand has a remarkable health care system that is as good as any developed nation. The treatment costs between one third and half the cost of treatment in developed countries.

Other popular medical tourism destinations for aesthetic medicine include Brazil, South Korea and Colombia. Each country has something unique to offer to customers. Although the compensation for medical negligence is sometimes lacking, countries that have established successful medical tourism industries are trying to improve the situation. Once this issue is sorted out, medical tourism has the potential for spectacular growth in the next few decades.