July 28, 2008
Island of Sun, Sea and Surgery
By Kate Foster
DOZENS of Scots seeking cut-price cosmetic surgery are making the trip to Cyprus, lured by low prices at private clinics which also offer recuperation by the Mediterranean.
The number of patients seen at one clinic has doubled in the past year with others also reporting a rise in Scots undergoing tummy tucks, breast implants and liposuction.
Cosmetic surgery experts said yesterday that the island was one of the fastest-growing destinations for medical tourism because of its low prices and high standards of care.
Average prices in clinics on the island are two-thirds of those charged by UK clinics, and also include a two-week recuperation period in the sun, flights and transfers.
Cosmetic surgery holidays are becoming increasingly popular to destinations such as India, Poland and South Africa. But Keith Pollard, managing director of Treatment Abroad, a website for patients considering treatment outside the UK, said Cyprus was closer to home and also offered a holiday in the sun.
He said: "Cyprus is a fast-growing, up-and-coming destination. It has a nice climate, good English speakers, an advanced healthcare system with good accreditation that you would hope for in any EC country."
Several firms have sprung up on the island in recent years, offering cosmetic surgery and recuperation packages to UK patients.
A marketing campaign by the island's tourist board, promoting Cyprus as a destination for medical procedures, was also launched last year.
Some 60 per cent of the island's private hospitals now treat patients from overseas with cosmetic surgery the most common type of procedure.
Hellyn Fairbrother, who runs BFN Cosmetic Tourism in Kyrenia, Northern Cyprus, said that when she launched her service five years ago she had just one Scottish client. But last year she saw 17 and this year she expects around 30.
Fairbrother uses surgeons who charge less than British doctors because of the relatively cheaper cost of living in Northern Cyprus.
She said: "Our hospitals don't have MRSA or C Difficile and they don't use contract cleaners. I have had a tummy tuck myself here so I have been through what the clients are going through.
"The number of clients from Scotland is growing year on year. It is largely a word-of-mouth thing and we are hoping to expand even further.
"I think that for many years Scottish women didn't really take great care of themselves but now they are really taking stock. We have a lot of older women who come to us. We have very stringent health tests but if they pass them they can have the surgery."
Her firm charges around two-thirds of UK prices for cosmetic procedures including the cost of flights, transfers, medications, follow-up checks and a two-week stay in a local four-star hotel.
This amounts to around GBP 3,600 for a tummy tuck compared with up to GBP 5,200 in the UK and GBP 3,900 for breast implants compared with up to GBP 5,000 in the UK.
Susan O'Connell, who runs tourism firm Cosmedicare4u in the island's capital, Nicosia, said she had seen a similar rise in Scottish patients and now also treats around 30 each year.
"The prices in the UK are outrageous and we are seeing quite a few patients from Scotland," she said.
"I get patients returning for more treatment and I get a lot of patients having combined procedures such as a tummy tuck, face lift and breast implants."
One patient, Patricia McAuley, from East Kilbride, had a tummy tuck at the age of 69 with BFN Cosmetic Tourism after being unhappy with her body for years.
McAuley, now 72, said she was delighted with the results of the procedure: "I went over to the clinic and said I wanted them to do the operation before I changed my mind. But now my stomach is flat, I have dropped two dress sizes and it has stayed that way."
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