Researchers set out to profile the nip, tuck, travel phenomenon

May 8, 2012 By Terry Clinton, University of Technology, Sydney
A Thai cosmetic surgery clinic. Credit: Emily Hunter

(Medical Xpress) -- An estimated 50 Australians a month are travelling to Malaysia for cosmetic surgery and researchers would like to know more about them as part of ground-breaking international study of the phenomenon of cosmetic surgery tourism.

The Sun, Sea, Sand and Silicone project involves from the University of Technology, Sydney, the University of Sydney and the Universities of Leeds and Leicester in the UK. It is examining two sites of origin – the UK and Australia – and five popular destinations: Thailand, Korea and Malaysia, Spain and Poland.

Lead UTS researcher Dr. Meredith Jones said cosmetic surgery tourism was fast growing, but not yet well understood.

"Our project is aiming to bring understanding to the cosmetic surgery tourism industry by looking at the experiences of people involved: patients, surgeons, the agents who organize travel and appointments, and other workers such as nurses and translators," Dr. Jones said.

"We are asking why are choosing to have cosmetic surgery, why they're choosing to have it in these places, how they know about the option to have surgery overseas, how they organise their trip, what they do while on their trip (besides surgery), who they go with, and what their perceptions are of the experience."

The Sydney team of Dr. Jones, Professor Elspeth Probyn from the University of Sydney and Emily Hunter from UTS, has already gathered data from people travelling to Thailand and now is looking at Malaysia.

Dr. Jones said interviews with the surgery tourists to Thailand had shown that many now travel in groups. Most of the groups are put together by cosmetic surgery tourism agents.

"We have also noted an increase in younger people, especially women in their twenties, travelling in order to have cosmetic surgery," she said.

"Social media, mainly Facebook and YouTube, are playing larger and more important roles. Through them people gain information, access to services, and are able to join communities of other cosmetic surgery tourists."

Ms. Hunter will spend five weeks doing fieldwork in Malaysia from 18 May and hopes make contact with Australians travelling there for surgery before they set off.

"The demographic seems to be different from those going to Thailand," Ms. Hunter said "These people are not in the same age group, or as active on web forums and social media, and there aren't as many of them.

"Our ideal is for people to keep a video or photo diary of the whole experience for us and that requires some interaction beforehand."

Ms. Hunter said the study, due to be completed late next year, was fully confidential with ethics approval from the universities involved.

Explore further: British cosmetic surgeons urge clampdown

Related Stories

British cosmetic surgeons urge clampdown

January 23, 2012
Experts in Britain called on Monday for all cosmetic surgery advertising to be banned following the scandal over French-made PIP breast implants and for tougher checks on surgeons.

Recommended for you

Best of Last Year—The top Medical Xpress articles of 2017

December 20, 2017
It was a good year for medical research as a team at the German center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Magdeburg, found that dancing can reverse the signs of aging in the brain. Any exercise helps, the team found, but dancing ...

Pickled in 'cognac', Chopin's heart gives up its secrets

November 26, 2017
The heart of Frederic Chopin, among the world's most cherished musical virtuosos, may finally have given up the cause of his untimely death.

Sugar industry withheld evidence of sucrose's health effects nearly 50 years ago

November 21, 2017
A U.S. sugar industry trade group appears to have pulled the plug on a study that was producing animal evidence linking sucrose to disease nearly 50 years ago, researchers argue in a paper publishing on November 21 in the ...

Female researchers pay more attention to sex and gender in medicine

November 7, 2017
When women participate in a medical research paper, that research is more likely to take into account the differences between the way men and women react to diseases and treatments, according to a new study by Stanford researchers.

Drug therapy from lethal bacteria could reduce kidney transplant rejection

August 3, 2017
An experimental treatment derived from a potentially deadly microorganism may provide lifesaving help for kidney transplant patients, according to an international study led by investigators at Cedars-Sinai.

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.