Traveling to Seoul for medical care
What are the benefits and drawbacks of traveling to Seoul for medical tourism?Intro - Rise in medical tourism
In this article we will focus on the major benefits and drawbacks of traveling to Seoul, Korea to get surgery done. Medical tourism is, as you can guess, a part of tourism where travelers go to a certain destination for surgery/treatment or other beauty and medical reasons. This kind of tourism to especially Seoul City has gone up considerably in recent years due to the competitive prices and excellent quality.
South Korea expects medical tourist numbers to reach just under 1 million people in 2020 up from 598,000 in 2015.
With such a surge in numbers, the revenue from medical tourism is expected to jump to 3.5 trillion won in 2020 from 1.01 trillion won in 2013. The KTO expects the amount of average per capita spending in Korea by medical tourists to grow from 2.53 million won in 2013 to 3.56 million won in 2020.
Medical tourists spending more on treatments
The average spending per medical tourists going up does not mean that the cost of a particular surgery or treatment will go up, it means that the average person will spend on more than one particular operation when coming to Seoul.
One example could be that a person originally came for dental work, but also opted to get laser skin treatment or some other skincare treatment, which Korean doctors excel at, while he or she was here.
Many people also choose to get dental work done in connection with their facial surgery once they find out the competitive prices and shorter treatment times. The lower prices first of all is due to the lower cost of labor here paired with a more competitve beauty and medical industry.
New areas of medical tourism – LASIK and Hair Transplants
Two entirely other areas that people may not think of immediately when they think of medical tourism is LASIK/LASEK eye surgery and hair transplant. Koreans have notoriously bad eye sight and hence the many eye clinics specializing in eye operation and vision correction. This is also offered at great prices often starting as low as 500-600 US dollars for LASIK. Hair transplant and/or hair loss clinics are also seeing a rise in medical tourists. The main reason for this is cost.
Full hair transplant surgery in Seoul, South Korea costs about 5,000 to 6,000 US dollars which is 50-60% less than if done in the United States.
And the good thing about all these different clinics and types of surgeries, is that consultation is most often free. You the customer is in control and welcome to shop around for consulations before you feel assured you are at the right place and the price is right.
Cutting edge medical technology and research
The shorter treatment times is first of all down to better technology and equipment. More and more dental clinics in Seoul are now able to “3D print” your crown (tooth) replacement on the spot whereas it would normally take several days or even weeks before you could get a fit made to match your old tooth. Also research in recovery and post operation care make for a speedier recovery so that you have time for sightseeing and some shopping while in Seoul.
So the benefits are of those above mentioned. Quality, prices, ongoing research and overall medical industry geared towards incoming tourists traveling for these specific services.
Beware of these, do some homework
Now let’s look at some of the downsides. With a rise in medical tourists there is also a danger of more and more clinics looking to make some fast money from these tourists who may not know any better. Be careful with just walking into any place without having done a little homework first. Yes there may be some bad doctors out there or clinics who take advantage of people knowing very little about the types or procedures or cost, but we can guarantee that the Seoul government is always looking out to improve in every area they can so that clinics and doctors need proper licenses and certifications.
Time and Post Operation
Traveling to Korea takes time and can be straining and you need to take a week or more out of your calender for this. Including post operation recovery time this could take even longer, unless you choose to fly back at the earliest possible and recover at home. There is also a slight disadvantage of not being able to just go visit your doctor whenever you feel like it. If you chose a doctor and clinic in your home country it would be a little easier. But luckily this is not a big deal, most medical ointments and products are available worldwide, meaning also at your local pharmacy.
Government medical partners
Also the local government has partnerships with many clinics in all areas. They are called medical partners and offer great transparency and information regarding the clinics and types of insurances offerered etc. Partner organizations of Gangnam-gu medical tourism are medical centers or institutions selected by Gangnam-gu for their suitable environment, service, and safety to attract foreign patients and promote various medical tourism businesses together.
This does not mean that clinics NOT listed are unsafe to visit. It only means that they those listed are based on certain criteria.
Why it is ok to visit non listed medical partner places if you did your research
For example some of those criteria are operation room environment, safety facility, specialists, personnel in charge of foreign patients, medical institution certificate, etc. (document & on-site evaluation). But it can also be based on available languages of the staff. So for example, in this article we are recommending a dental clinic below that is not listed as a Gangnam-gu region medical partner because, even though they do have personnel in charge of foreign patients the languages offered are only English and Chinese, whereas some clinics offer up to 5-6 different languages.
The word of mouth always works too. If you know someone who had something done in Seoul, then why not go there especially if the person you know is happy with their result(s).
Approved by My Guide Seoul
Finally we will recommend the places that are listed on our site. The criteira for being on our site is that they have to have experience with treating foreigners/international patients, that they speak English and that we have been invitied on a clinic on site tour and have meet the coordinater in charge of foreign patients as well as one of their doctors. Sometimes there is an overlap with the Gangnam-gu medical partners and sometimes not. But the reason(s) as explained above does not mean that they fall short with their surgery and treatment abilities.
For reliable and best price LASIK and LASEK surgery go to BGN.
For Hair transplants recommend the following Clinic Maxwell Hair clinic.
For Plastic Surgery we recommend View plastic surgery and Nana plastic surgery but all our listed clinics are reputable and perfectly fine to visit for consultation before making up your mind.
And for dermatology and “petite surgery” we would recommend Modelo Skin clinic
For a good physician Create Wellness Center is a must visit.
For Spa and Beauty treatments Spa 1899 is our favorite choice.
For dental work we recommend Oak Dental located right by Gangnam Subway Station. You will not be dissappointed.