Medical tourism has become increasingly popular in the U.S. and Europe, and cosmetic surgery is one of the biggest niches in the medical tourism field. Why do people choose to have cosmetic surgery abroad? There are several reasons, one of the main ones being that it costs a lot less to have a cosmetic procedure done overseas than at home. A breast augmentation, for example, can cost upwards of $10,000 in the U.S., while in, say, Brazil, the same procedure costs only $3000.

Aside from the cost considerations, however, there's also the fact that many foreign hospitals that cater to medical tourists are notorious for providing patient care that goes above and beyond anything you'll find in standard medical facilities in the U.S. or Europe. Furthermore, having cosmetic surgery overseas makes the procedure a more private, discrete affair and the recovery period more leisurely. As far as acquaintances and other relations are concerned, the patient was just away on vacation.

Choosing the Country

Doing good research is essential before deciding which country to book your medical trip to. Different countries are renowned for different medical specialties. As far as cosmetic surgery goes, some of the best foreign specialists and medical facilities can be found in Thailand, Brazil and Venezuela, the last of which is known for its buttocks augmentations.

Picking the Hospital

Once you decide which country you want to go to, you should spend a good deal of time looking at the various hospitals available in that country. Hospitals in South East Asia are especially renowned for providing excellent service for their foreign patients. Make sure that the hospital you pick has good, legitimate reviews and is internationally recognized and accredited. JIC and ISO accreditation are the industry standards, so make sure your hospital has them. You should also make sure that the hospital doctors and staff members speak English (or whatever your language of choice is) fluently.

Keep your Doctor Informed

Your local physician should be informed of all your medical decisions, and this includes any cosmetic procedures and medical traveling you plan on having, regardless of whether they're at home or abroad. Remember that your doctor will be crucial in overseeing your recovery once you return from your trip.

Documents to Keep in Order

Make sure you have multiple copies of your passport, visa, traveler's checks, debit and credit cards, medical records and driver's license. You should also have handy the contact info of your close friends and family members, the U.S. embassy in the country you're in, your doctor, your employer back home, your insurance providers and your bank and credit card companies.