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Combining Trips to Colombia with Body Alterations

 - Mar 17, 2006
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So much for coming back with a tan. How about coming back with a new nose and larger breasts? Book a vacation in Colombia and you can pick up some souvenirs you won’t soon forget.

Travel agents and plastic surgeons in Colombia are promoting their country as a destination for both vacations and body alterations. How convenient…

One satisfied customer, a resident of Miami who took a trip to Bogota, ordered liposuction, breast implants and a nose job from the room service menu. The procedures cost about US$8,000. She estimates the same services would have cost her US$25,000 - US$30,000 back home.

Consider a few factors: Colombia is one country where cosmetic surgery is commonly accepted. Colombia also has significant cost advantages over developed countries. Finally, Colombia is enjoying a tourism boom. Inevitably, someone had to add it up and find the opportunity.

An estimated 21,000 people went to Colombia for surgery in 2004, according to one travel agency specializing in this niche market. The number rose to 30,000 the following year.

That’s a lot of people who’d look good on the beach.

And it looks like the trend will pick up more momentum. According to the Associated Press, President Alvaro Uribe has called for the creation of free-trade hospital zones where medical tourists from the US could receive treatment tax-free.

Argentina, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Thailand and Venezuela and also have plastic surgery tourism industries.

Prospective tourists / patients should exercise caution, though. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) issued the following warning in a briefing paper on the issue:

"Patients may take unnecessary risks, when choosing cosmetic surgery vacations, by unknowingly selecting unqualified physicians and having procedures performed in non-accredited surgical facilities."

Furthermore, US laws do not protect patients treated outside the country. Unfortunate patients may have no recourse for complications or incidents of negligence.

Furthermore, the ASPS warns against mixing post-surgery recovery with typical vacation activities. "Patients should not sunbathe, drink alcohol, swim/snorkel, water ski/jet ski, parasail, take extensive tours (walking or bus), or exercise after surgery."

Finally, the ASPS recommends that patients wait five to ten days between going under the knife and boarding a plane for home.