Each year thousands of men and women take advantage of the low-cost, high-quality care provided by Costa Rica's cosmetic surgeons and dentists. In fact, a 1991 survey conducted by the University of Costa Rica found that 14.25% of all visitors to Costa Rica come to receive some sort of medical care - most often cosmetic surgery and dental work.
In a typical scenario, a patient will fly down to Costa Rica and remain in the country between 7 and 10 days, enough time for the surgery and recovery period. Frequently, the trip combines the esthetic procedures with tourism objectives. Many times the first days are spent sightseeing, followed by the planned cosmetic treatment and then some more sightseeing during the convalescent period.
Some people may initially be put off by the thought of traveling to a third world country for reconstructive cosmetic surgery. How do I know the doctor is really a doctor? Is there any kind of government regulation? It’s certainly better to be safe than sorry (especially when your face hangs in the balance).
Prospective travelers should research all aspects of the procedure as well as the physician’s experience and qualifications. That said, Costa Rica possesses one of the best health care systems in Latin America, in some respects it has been ranked even higher than the U.S.
Costa Rica’s cosmetic surgery specialists are fully trained and certified by a national medical association and experienced in the latest and most effective cosmetic surgery and non-surgical techniques related to patient make over needs. In order to assist consumers in identifying suitably experienced and qualified plastic surgeons, the Costa Rica Plastic Surgery Board maintains listings of credentialed physicians who are fully certified members of the association. The Costa Rica board can verify whether a particular doctor is presently certified or is completing training in preparation for certification.
Procedures routinely offered by plastic surgeons in Costa Rica include total and partial face-lifts or reconstruction; tummy tucks; breast reduction, augmentation and reconstruction; liposuction and liposculpture.
Prices however, are generally 50% lower than in North America. For example, facial cosmetic surgery (face lift), one of the most commonly performed procedures in the country, can cost from $6,000 to $12,000 in the United States. Comparable surgery in Costa Rica will cost between $3,000 and $4,000 including clinic stay, medicines, nursing care and the surgery.
A visitor seeking dental work from simple fillings to surgical implants and periodontics can also anticipate large savings without compromising quality of care. In Costa Rica, dental implants cost between $750 - $850 per implant, compared to twice that in the U.S. While laboratory work in Costa Rica is much less expensive than in the United States, all materials are FDA approved and imported from the United States.
Are there any disadvantages to cosmetic surgery in Costa Rica? Apart from possibly not wanting to return home; traveling expenses are the only downside we can see. A round trip ticket from most major North American cities can range anywhere from $300 to $600 dollars – not likely to be covered by your HMO.
Still, considering the extremely low health care costs and the additional benefit of potential sight seeing, it’s usually a win-win situation. Additionally, a growing number of companies are now offering health care tourism packages that combine top-notch medical care with relaxing stays in natural locations.