A SNIP AT THE PRICE

BY PETER WILHELM - THE FINANCIAL MAIL

Medical tourism has made SA a hot destination for face and boob lifts ­not to mention the lions.

Increasing numbers of foreign tourists ­ mainly from the US and UK ­ are taking advantage of the low rand and SA's medical excellence to jet in for such pressing medical emergencies as excessive flab, wrinkles and the known ailments of age. Tourism based on the internal buying power of our currency is familiar. Less so is the surge of a subset of foreign visitors, medical tourists. SA has become a magnet for those in search of (relatively) cheap elective procedures such as tummy tucks, lipo suction, laser eye surgery, rhinoplasty and breast enhancement. More critical surgical work ­ including hip and knee replacements, or, indeed, cardiac operations ­ are also on offer from a rising number of SA-based sources; but cosmetic surgery is the main drawcard. There are no fixed prices for elective surgery and clients should beware of those that seem too low. As a bench mark, though, a breast augmentation operation that costs £3000-£5000 in the UK and US$10000 in the US, America is quoted by one SA company at £1800 ($2500). And local prices, listed in pounds or dollars, generally include some or all components of travel fares, food, hospital and hotel admission; even a game tour. A face lift in England costs £5000-£9000 (depending on where you have the surgery) and in the US, $20000; in SA, with some extras, it is priced costed at £2800 ($3900).