Medical Tourism: Bargain Plastic Surgery on the Luxe

From $20,000 contouring surgery in Poland to facial restructuring in China at a 7-star medical spa, cosmetic surgery services and luxury medical tourism are gaining in popularity across the globe.

With the current tough economy, it can be attractive to look at opportunities to combine a surgery and luxurious vacation as a lower-cost package than a procedure in the United States, medical tourism experts say.

"As new cosmetic and plastic surgeries come out, it's advantageous for the patient," said Jonathan Edelheit, CEO of the Medical Tourism Association, which counts 100 countries within its organization. "You can have a surgery for the same high quality -- but at 50 percent to 90 percent less -- and take the vacation you never thought you could afford. It's a huge trend and the tourism of the future."

All surgeries need to be carefully considered as a serious medical procedure, said Dr. Steven Svehlak, who operates a plastic surgery practice in Los Angeles.

"If you do your homework and take your time to research these doctors and facilities," Svehlak said, "than you will be able to find reputable places to go to. But you need to be extremely careful."

Experts added that one of the big issues to consider when electing for a procedure abroad is making sure patients receive the prescribed battery of follow-up exams in correlation to their cosmetic procedures. For most surgeries, there are a routine number of follow-up appointments that go as far as eight weeks out, along with an appropriate amount of recovery time.

With that warning in hand, here's a look at five medical procedures and travel packages available for vacationers across the globe.

1. Abdominal Etching in Poland

Darryn Lyons, an Australian paparazzo, recently astonished viewers of the popular British reality show "Big Brother" when he sported a meticulously sculpted six pack painted onto his enormous belly, reported The Guardian.

Lyons, 46, was recently filmed rocking his controversial new procedure by walking around topless on the celebrity show set, apparently determined not to be outdone by his sexy female roommates. He was reported by the Daily Mirror to have spent about 13,000 British pounds, or more than $20,000, on the cosmetic surgery.

The reality television star elected to undergo the five-hour long procedure in Poland, reported The Mirror. The surgery works by removing fat from the targeted area and may be followed up by a series of fat melting injections to the abdomen so that it may appear as though months of strength training have given the patient rock-hard abs.

Patients could combine surgery with an extended tour of Poland, with its scenic mountain landscape, remarkable museums and, of course, if the doctor says they can, a potato vodka tasting.

If Eastern Europe isn't your ideal vacation spot, the controversial procedure is also sought after in Brazil.

Top Five Medical Tourism Retreats

2. The Brazilian Butt Lift

Although the United States still tops the list of countries with highest number of plastic surgeries, it's closely followed by Brazil, China, India, Mexico and Japan, according to statistics published by The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS).

One of the most popular cosmetic surgeries in Brazil is the butt lift, which shapes your curves by injecting unwanted fat from the arms or abdomen and then into the buttocks to create a rounder, more defined rear, said Svehlak.

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