Increased Mobility of Patients Opens New Opportunities: Plastic Surgery is not High-Class Privilege Anymore
Once the prerogative of the rich and famous, plastic surgery is now accessible to patients of all strata of society. Expert surgeons of Nordesthetics clinic explain the changing demographic features of their typical patient: a middle-class female. These patients typically have an increased mobility, which allows them to seek better deals undergoing plastic surgery abroad.
January 8, 2020. Plastic surgery has become much more accessible. In the last 10 years, the number of plastic surgery procedures almost doubled globally. 6,7 million procedures were carried out in 2010, while in 2018 this number rose to 10,6 million. The growing popularity of plastic surgery also indicates the change in patient demographics. For example, a recent study of Saudi Arabian plastic surgery patients indicates that 68% of them are employees and 47% receive an average salary.
“The stereotype of a rich and famous patient is no longer valid in plastic surgery,” commented Vilius Sketrys, the commercial director of Nordesthetics clinic - the leading international plastic surgery center based in Kaunas, Lithuania. “Most of our patients are neither rich nor famous. On the contrary, they are so-called ‘common people.’ Demographically, the typical patient in our clinic is a middle-class female.”
He pointed out the variety of lifestyles, backgrounds and professions among the patients of the clinic. Oil-pumping stations workers, medical nurses and social care workers, school teachers, photographers, graphic designers and artists, an opera student, a bus driver, a stewardess and a cruise ship employee, a fitness champion and a professional bodybuilder - the range is as wide as that. According to Mr Sketrys, for most of these people, plastic surgery has nothing to do with their social status or profession. On the contrary, the desire to have more aesthetically pleasing appearance cuts across all statuses and professions.
For this type of patient, the price of surgery is a very important factor. It raises the issue of plastic surgery financing which is solved differently in different parts of the world. In the USA, where the largest number of plastic surgeries take place annually, aesthetic plastic surgery is never financed by the state or the health insurance companies. Patients use their own income or loans to finance their surgeries.
The opposite example is Brazil - the second-leading country in the total number of plastic surgeries. Some of the Brazilian clinics started offering poor patients free plastic surgeries, which were carried out by trainees or beginner surgeons. Later on, the government recognized “the right to beauty” and started funding plastic surgery in public hospitals. This type of practice is still used as a training ground for plastic surgeons.
The UK represents a kind of middle ground. In some cases, aesthetic plastic surgeries may be financed by the NHS, usually when it is necessary for the psychological well-being of the patient. However, in most cases in the UK, as in other parts of Europe, patients are expected to finance their operations on their own.
The differing prices and conditions of financing makes plastic surgery one of the fastest-developing fields of medical tourism. Increased mobility of patients opens for them new opportunities thus adding to the accessibility of plastic surgery. It is especially true when clinics in certain regions succeed in maintaining high quality standards while charging significantly lower prices. Such medical centers are capable of attracting patients from countries in which plastic surgery is still a luxury commodity. Mr Sketrys says that such is the case of Nordesthetics clinic.
“Most of our patients are middle-class individuals who finance plastic surgeries using their own disposable income or loans. For them, the price is an important factor and we take that into account in our business strategy, although our main focus is the quality of our services. Our clinic offers European standards of high quality for substantially lower prices than in the UK or Scandinavia, where most of our patients come from,” he explained.
Plastic surgery prices at Nordesthetics clinic are up to 2-3 times lower than in Scandinavian countries, the UK or Ireland where most patients of the clinic come from. Apart from the qualified doctors and medical staff, the patients receive logistical support and personal assistance while they visit Kaunas, Lithuania, including transfers to and from the airport. 90% of patients of Nordesthetics clinic are medical tourists looking for affordable quality treatment abroad.