Reshaping, resizing or even reinventing, Bangkok's many cosmetic surgery specialists offer you the full gamut of aesthetic alterations to improve your appearance or help you defy the ageing process. From the life-enhancing - subtle nips, tucks and lifts, hair transplants, breast implants or laser treatments - to the life-changing, like gender reassignment surgery, Thailand's plastic surgeons will perform them all, and more, while respecting your privacy and anonymity. Factor in the affordability, world-class hospitals and a wealth of expertise at your disposal, and it's little wonder why so many now flock to Bangkok.
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So, when did cosmetic surgery become so commonplace? Back in the 1980s, a pair of shoulder pads was as far as most could go to enhance their outward appearance, and 'growing old gracefully' was seen as the only real defence against the ravaging effects of time and gravity. Plastic Surgery to elicit improvements in appearance, though in existence for hundreds of years, was still the preserve of the neurosis suffering elite - mainly Hollywood celebrities and high-society. Fast forward to the present day and the medical profession has come a long way. New technology has helped both redefine the limits of what can be achieved aestheticaly, and to push prices down to a level accessible to the masses. As a result there now exist innumerable options, unattainable to earlier generations, which allow you to retain or regain a youthful exterior or to alter an aspect of your appearance you find unflattering.
The Quest for Perfection
Also evolving rapidly since then has been beauty's importance and role in society at large. Today, glossy magazines allow no less than sublime, air-brushed beauty to grace their pages, and a celebrity spotted looking bloated, drawn or pale is tantamount to a criminal offence. Like it or not, this pressure to look young, radiant and ravishing has never been greater, and beauty, having been painted by the media as something virtuous, has become a powerful social force that has helped kick-start the demand for, and resultant boom in, cosmetic surgery.
And what a boom it has been. As a result of the intertwining of these two phenomena - an increase in consumer choice and the societal pressure to look good - cosmetic surgery has morphed into a massive global market. In 2004 in the US alone, almost 12 million cosmetic procedures were performed. And here in 'The Big Mango' and Thailand, where appearances definitely do matter, the options available to those wanting to beautify themselves with cosmetic surgery have never been so abundant.
In fact, of all the many procedures that Thailand can now offer the medical tourist (see our medical tourism section for more on this) it's probably for cosmetic surgery that it is the most well known. This is partly down to its prices, which in comparison to those found in the West are cheap, but more-so its fame as a mecca for the most complex and profoundly life-changing of all cosmetic surgeries, sex-change or gender reassignment surgery (have a look here for more insight on the ladyboy phenomenon). While this is not unmerited - Thailand's expertise both professional and social in transsexual operations is unrivalled - it misrepresents the wider picture: the Kingdom's plastic surgeons are just as expert in all other fields of plastic surgery.
Specialists here can perform anything from breast surgery, face-lifts, nose and ears, body reshaping, tummy tucks and liposuction, to non-surgical treatments like hair transplantation, chemical peels and laser skin rejuvenation. The excellent facilities, well-trained staff and state-of-the-art technology also mean that you'll receive nothing less than world-class treatment.
Do Your Homework
Naturally, a decision to undergo cosmetic surgery is an important and life-changing one, so make sure you do your research. The phrase 'cosmetic surgery' implies that the changes are only skin-deep, when in reality altering your appearance can have profound and far-reaching psychological implications. Doctors here will be just as keen to ascertain that such surgery is suitable for you as they would in the West.
For anyone contemplating such drastic steps, it's important to understand all aspects of the procedure. Always make sure the doctor explains everything to you in layman's terms, and is honest with you about the risks of the procedure and all possible outcomes. Here are some guidelines to assist you in selecting a qualified cosmetic surgeon and making a well informed decision:
- Check the surgical experience of the surgeon you are considering. Does he or she specialize in the procedure(s) in which you are interested?
- How many procedures of this kind has the doctor done?
- How many is the doctor currently performing per year?
- Before-and-after photographs can give you some indication of the surgeon's ability, although you must realize that they cannot be construed to guarantee a result that you will achieve.
- Make sure you are comfortable with the personal rapport between you and your surgeon. In addition, you should feel at ease with the staff. You should always feel that your concerns are being addressed. Do not be satisfied with an incomplete answer.
So, where to go?.. Bangkok's top private hospitals are well known to provide exceptional services, but there are also many cosmetic clinics, some of which specialise in particular procedures. Look (shop) around, and only select a place you feel 100% confident in. Never settle for anything less.