Plastic Surgery Goes Global — and How to Keep Up

If you’ve got an international clientele, you no doubt already know what nationalities show the greatest interest in cosmetic surgery. Brazil, Mexico and South Korea have all gained global reputations for their passion for aesthetic procedures.

These days, though, the newest medibeauty hot spot might just surprise you. According to a recent article on, Dubai could become the world’s next plastic surgery hub: Not only are patients streaming there — medical tourists, including those seeking aesthetic services, accounted for 8.7% of health-sector revenue in 2012 — but plastic surgeons are also finding it a worthwhile destination.

Beverly Hills-based facial plastic surgeon Jason B. Diamond, MD, for example, travels to the Gulf state every few months to perform surgeries as part of a partnership with the locally based American British Surgical and Medical Centre. As he told CNN:

Every time I go, I don’t even sit down. I’m running around from 7am until midnight. The demand is literally out the door.

And what are those patients seeking? As the chart below shows, their interests are similar but hardly identical to those of patients in the States:

cosmetic surgery, top procedures, dubai

Sources: ASPS, Emirates Plastic Surgery Society

The differences speak not just to individual preferences but to larger, cultural mores, as well:

In Europe, America and Australia, people will try to adopt their lifestyle first, Dubai-based plastic surgery consultant Vasilica Baltateanu told CNN. Liposuction, for instance, would be a last resort after you’ve tried everything else. Here, it’s more, ‘I’ve gained some weight, I’ll get some lipo’.

At this point, such trends may seem far removed from the day-to-day realities of running a local practice but they do speak to larger shifts that are only going to accelerate in the years ahead:

  • Thanks to the geography-obliterating power of the Internet, patients can seek out providers in their hometown or on the other side of the globe
  • The rise of new “hubs” of plastic surgery will mean medical tourists who might have previously come to the U.S. will have more options closer to home
  • Doctors hoping to engage international patients will have to become more attuned to the unique personal and cultural preferences of an ever-wider array of nationalities

Put them together and the takeaway is the same whether you join the roster of doctors practicing overseas or not: The doctors who will thrive in our ever-more-connected world will be those who practice locally but market globally.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including, and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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