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Singaporeans flock abroad for nip and tuck

South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia popular for low-cost plastic surgery

Published on May 6, 2013 7:45 AM

Growing numbers of Singaporeans are heading abroad - not for work or travel, but to improve their looks with low-cost cosmetic procedures.

Countries such as South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia are counting more visitors from the Republic among their medical tourists.

And they have noticed an increasing interest in cosmetic surgery and aesthetic treatments.

In 2010, 239 medical tourists from Singapore visited South Korea. By the following year, this had almost doubled to 468, figures from the Korea Tourism Organisation (Singapore) show. Most of them were women aged from 20 to 30.

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Background story

Drawn by expertise and cost

  • South Korea: In 2011, 468 medical tourists from Singapore visited South Korea. Doctors there are seen as well-trained and technologically advanced, says a spokesman for the country's tourism authority.
  • Thailand: The country's top private hospital, Bumrungrad International, treated more than 3,800 Singaporeans last year. Bumrungrad says its procedures are 30 per cent cheaper than the equivalent in Singapore.
  • Malaysia: Some 5,900 Singaporean medical travellers visited the country in 2011. At Mahkota Medical Centre, botox injections cost RM300 (S$122) and up, against $500 in Singapore.