During the past decade, people have become more receptive and accepting in the idea of plastic surgery procedures, that is, cosmetic surgery. This change has sparked not only a revolution in the way people looked at their own bodies, but also in the economic status of aesthetic clinics all over the world. Thailand is no exemption; the revenues earned in the field of cosmetic surgery for Thailand alone amounts to 20 billion baht a year, which translates to over $630 million, already increasing last year’s cosmetic income by over 5 billion baht.
Before this increase in plastic surgery numbers, both the attending physicians and patients alike would have to pass by a different entrance en-route to the operating room, since both would not want the general public to see that they are performing and undergoing plastic surgery, respectively. There was a stigma before, that paying for bodily enhancements in the form of fillers, implants, and mechanical alterations, was disrespectful to the Thai culture, since it was assumed that the patient was not happy with the physical characteristics his culture had. Now though, people subscribe to the thought that even a little amount of cosmetic enhancement, say raise the nose here or fold the eyelid over there, would contribute greatly to the overall look of the one getting the surgery.
The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce said that cosmetic surgery will be the most profitable business venture this year due to the ever-increasing number of patients, particularly teenagers, and investors alike. As proof of this, Thailand’s Public Health Ministry released statistical data saying that the number of plastic surgery clinics has increased from 317 to 350 in the course of only a few years.
Dr. Supot Sumritvanitcha, the director of the Yanhee International Hospital, said that one of the reasons why there are so many patients opting to get plastic surgery is due to the media. He also said that teenagers who really idolize entertainment personality take it a step further by looking more and more like them—which meant getting fairer skin, sharper noses, and nicer eyelids. Parents on the other hand, also use the opportunity that plastic surgery gives them to enhance the looks of their children, even at young age, to prepare them for their future endeavors, namely job interviews and auditions in the entertainment industry.
According to the statistics Dr. Supot gave alone, already 500 teenagers aged 18 have already gone to Yanhee Hospital to undergo nose surgery, and nose surgery is catching up with over 450 patients seen every month. Foreign patients are also one of the biggest contributors to the hospital’s financial growth in the past few years—with a general increase of foreign patients from 25,600 in 2008 to 34,000 in 2010. Most of these patients come from North America and Europe, and this is probably because of the fact that they can pass of getting plastic surgery as a vacation, and at a much cheaper price as compared to their home countries.
Yanhee Hospital has also matched this increase in demand with an increase in the labor force by means of hiring more surgeons and nurses for the hospital, with particular notice given to nurses from the Philippines who are also highly proficient in communicating in English. This would aid in their market bid for more foreign patients.
Plastic surgery has indeed come a long way with regards to its acceptance by the general public and clinical innovations to make procedures last longer, cost less, and most importantly, much safer. The Thai government warns consumers though, that surgical procedures such as the ones performed in plastic surgery should be done by board-certified plastic surgeons to ensure the optimum results and utmost safety for the patient.
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