Our Press - Toronto Star

Suitcase Confidential
Nip and tuck enhancements to your holiday

Malene Arpe Toronto Star
Toronto Star TRAVEL, Saturday, November 8, 2003

Here a nip. There a tuck. And over there, by the pool, a fetching waiter serving a frozen margarita to be leisurely enjoyed while the swelling from the surgery goes down and you wait for the stitches to come out.

Say, for the sake of silly argument, that I were to decide I hated my boobs so much I'd let a doctor cut me open and shove wobbly foreign objects under my skin, there would be worse ways to get over the surgery than through a bit of luxurious vacationing in a temperate climate. (Or how about a nose job and a safari?- the rhinoceros/rhinoplasty special, natch.)

Combining cosmetic surgery with vacation time is becoming increasingly popular.

Clinics in Asia, Africa and Europe are wooing would-be face-lift candidates with promises of excellent surgical skills as well as the chance to see a new country. There is also usually a promise of lower prices for the procedures.

Surgical Attractions in South Africa is a "medical tourism company," pairing clients with surgeons and offering combo deals, apparently with great success, as 90 per cent of their clients come from abroad.

On their Web site (www.surgicalattractions.com) there are plenty of ideas- ranging from safaris through day trips to wine estate tours- to make the whole under-the-knife experience a bit more pleasant.

I made an inquiry as to how much a breast enhancement and wine estate tour would set me back and Ingrid Lomas of Surgical Attractions immediately came through with detailed information.

A breast augmentation (including prosthesis), performed in Cape Town, followed by a wine estate tour (including wine tastings) would come to approximately $3,781 Cdn.

This is without air fare. On top of that, there's the food and lodging while recuperating (six nights, seven days), ranging from $545 (guest lodge) to $1,140 (luxury boutique hotel).

For those who are actually serious about checking out Surgical Attractions, there is a long, detailed questionnaire to be filled out when contacting the outfit.

And you don't have to feel lost and alone:

"Through our companion/care service we arrange to meet our clients at the airport and transport them to their accommodation, to their medical appointments, to their hospital/clinic for their procedure, back to their accommodation following the procedure and to the airport on their return," Lomas says.

Africa not your thing? Well, then, how about a peel in Penang?

Beautiful Holidays (www.beautiful-holidays.com) in Malaysia are at your service.

It may take you 24 hours to get there, with stops in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, but senior consultant Wim Giezenaar says it's worth the trip if you're really interested in discovering Asia and you're prepared to stay two to three weeks post-surgery.

Again, I asked the breast question, and Giezenaar quoted a price of $3,900 Cdn. (included is intake conversation by phone before you leave Canada, intake in Penang, one night in a "fully functional" hospital, all medical expenses, two follow-up check-ups), plus $1, 625 for two weeks in a five-star hotel.

In comparison, if you're looking for Toronto breast enhancement, the price range is approximately $5,600 (saline implants) to $7,400 (cohesive gel implants), according to Dr. Mitchell Brown, a Toronto plastic and cosmetic surgeon.

As great as this all sounds, however, you have to do the buyer-beware thing.

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery warns against surgery vacations on its Web site.

This, of course, could be because they're afraid of all those potential tummy tucks travelling out of their reach, but the advice does sound sound. For example, ASAPS advises, "there is no single international standard for quality."

Also, "If your idea is to recover from surgery lounging by the pool, remember that many types of cosmetic surgery require you to stay out of the sun until you are fully healed."

Darn, there went the margarita by the pool.

According to Dr. Brown: "There are certainly risks and unknowns when you do this (travel for surgery). For example, the credentialing criteria of the medical personnel, facility criteria and general safety criteria may differ from what we have in Canada."

And sometimes you just know right away that you're not going to sign up for anything involving knives.

A Central American doctor, who shall remain nameless, also got my question about breast augmentation and, like his colleagues in South Africa and Malaysia answered promptly.

With a quote for breast reduction! He also, curiously, ended his e-mail to this only child: "Please send my best to your sister and her husband, and thank them dearly for your referral to my persona."

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