Medical tourism is on the increase as more Britons go abroad for treatments, new research says.
Overseas trips for cosmetic surgery, operations and post-op relaxation are worth around £60 million per year, according to market analysts Mintel.
Demand was initially fuelled by cosmetic surgery prices being lower abroad and thousands of British tourists travel each year to places such as Brazil, South Africa and Malaysia for cheaper plastic surgery and a few days in the sun at the same time.
Which? health campaigner Frances Blunden said: ‘Our own research shows that costs can drive people abroad for cosmetic surgery but we really advise people to take time out and think carefully through this decision.
‘Which? has put together a checklist of questions you must ask before signing on the dotted line. Anyone thinking of any surgery abroad should visit our cosmetic surgery website for independent tips and advice.
‘Cutting costs before surgery may not be the right way forward, especially if something goes wrong.’
A quarter of Britons would now consider recuperating overseas after an illness or operation and 12 per cent would consider having surgery abroad because of lower prices, Mintel’s Health and Wellness Holidays report says.
India has a huge medical tourism industry, which is predicted to be worth £1.2 billion by 2012.
A number of Indian companies cater for wealthy foreign tourists, laying on an airport-to-hospital bed service for a wide range of non-emergency operations, as well as dental treatments and cosmetic surgery.
Clinics in Latvia offer non-emergency operations including spinal and ankle surgery and knee, hip and shoulder replacements.
Hungary provides dental treatment at as little as 30 per cent of the UK cost and easy access on low-cost flights.
In addition, British holidaymakers splashed out around £25 million last year on going abroad for yoga holidays, holistic healing, health farms beauty treatments and spa visits.
Spending rose to £50 million for similar types of breaks taken within the UK.
Mintel Senior Travel Analyst Richard Cope said demand for medical tourism was on the increase.
‘This sector is a thriving industry as a growing number of well-off baby boomers take their health needs into their own hands and pursue the elixir of eternal youth,’ he said.