For many years, Brazil has been known as a destination for Americans seeking cheap cosmetic surgery. The local medical tourism industry claims that Brazil has grown from 48,000 foreign patients in 2005 to 180,000 in 2009, and that numbers are growing by 30% every year. These figures are at best, rough estimates, and may be accurate or a wild exaggeration; there is no way of knowing.
For many years, Brazil has been known as a destination for Americans seeking cheap cosmetic surgery. The local medical tourism industry claims that Brazil has grown from 48,000 foreign patients in 2005 to 180,000 in 2009, and that numbers are growing by 30% every year. These figures are at best, rough estimates, and may be accurate or a wild exaggeration; there is no way of knowing. Brazil now wants to attract more medical tourists from other South American countries, the USA and Canada, for cosmetic surgery, dentistry and surgery.
Medical tourism is part of Brazil’s efforts to increase the number of tourists expected around the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Attracting tourists is relatively easy, but attracting medical tourists who happen to come to watch football or athletics is not an easy task; attempts to do this in South Africa for the 2010 World Cup failed.
The country recently hosted its first medical tourism conference in Sao Paulo. Ruben Toral spoke of Brazil’s world-famous reputation for cosmetic surgery. Mariana Palha, of Prime Medical Concierge commented, “People don’t come to Brazil because it’s cheap; they come because it’s good. Brazil is known for its cosmetic surgery and also known for its beaches.” Panel discussions found that while people wanted the country to be famous for cosmetic surgery, they also wanted to promote other surgery. And while promoting quality, some also wanted to promote low prices. Others argued that they were not low prices, as they could not compete with India on price. Doctors from Sao Paulo’s prestigious Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein admitted they were only interested in promoting the hospital’s brand as the first internationally accredited hospital in 1999, not low prices. While Brazil has spare capacity on cosmetic surgery, some conference attendees pointed out that selling surgery was difficult as Brazil’s hospitals are already full.
The Porto Alegre Health Care Cluster is a public-private organization promoting medical tourism for local government, clinics, hospitals, doctors and others in Porto Alegre, the largest city in southern Brazil. The aim is to promote the region as a group, rather than leaving it to individual businesses.
Brazil’s health system is one of the world’s largest, with an estimated 16,000 facilities, including clinics, hospitals and local health centers that are staffed by more than 200,000 qualified physicians. The country provides some of the most advanced medical care, and treatment is among the cheapest. In recent years, the devaluation of Brazil’s currency against the US dollar has made the country a choice for low-cost, high-quality medical treatment for foreigners. In particular, Brazil has become world-famous for cosmetic surgery as millions of Brazilians use it. The wealthy have been visiting Brazil for years in order to maintain their youthful appearance and their anonymity.