Medical Tourism in Costa Rica (Attracting Foreigners)

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Even including air fares, airport taxes, exit taxes, hotel and restaurant bills, etc., coming to Costa Rica to undergo several medical treatments means major savings for patients, usually under 50 percent of what it would cost them in the United States, for example.

But it is not cost only that attracts foreigners to Costa Rican private hospitals, clinics, dentist offices, etc., but also the top professionals here and the successful treatments which are experienced by a growing number of patients, which jumped from 2,783 in 2003 to 4,551, at least, an estimate by the Central Bank of Costa Rica as per its records.

Dental implants, breast enhancing, and face lifting are at the top of the treatments that attract this particular type of visitors to Costa Rica.

Why is Medical Tourism Popular In Costa Rica?

Due to the high costs and long waits that are common in locations like the US and much of Europe, Costa Rica has become a very popular destination for those seeking medical procedures. At the present time, Almost 1% percent of Costa Rica’s entire gross domestic product is derived from doctors who are helping patients from other nations.

In locations such as Alberta, Canada, the prices for many standard surgeries are about 80% higher than they are in Costa Rica. Last year alone, around 45,000 medical tourists visited Costa Rica, and that number has been increasing by about 5,000 documented cases per year. Costa Rica competes for medical tourists with nations like India, Brazil, Mexico, and Panama, and its location close to the United States is a great boosting factor in choice, along with wonderful beaches and spa locations for patients to spend recovery time in.

What are Some Other Reasons that People Travel Here for Medical Procedures?

The soaring costs of premiums within the insurance industry is another reason why many end up choosing Costa Rica as a destination for medical tourism. At a typical savings rate of about 45%-65% on many of the common surgeries needed, Costa Rica ranks near the top of the list as far as potential to save money. For many who wanted to see a prime destination that offers a friendly culture and helpful residents along with amazing views and fantastic culinary scene, the choice to come here is an easy decision to make.

What are Some Misconceptions About Medical Tourism?

One misconception about medical tourism in Costa Rica is that the doctors here are not skilled enough to provide quality care. The truth is that many doctors in Costa Rica undergo quite rigorous training, and the system that gets them up to full accreditation just as standards would govern in the US. Many practitioners in Costa Rica have been specialists in a specific type of procedure for so many years, that you are going to be able to have someone you can truly count on for the duration of your stay.

Another very common misconception is that hospitals in Costa Rica may not have the proper equipment or facilities to even compare with what is available in the US or Europe. There are many various international standards in place that require the facilities in Costa Rica to be accredited by a global entity such as the Joint Commission International, or the American Association for Accreditation for Ambulatory Surgery Facilities.

A final misconception about medical tourism in Costa Rica is that since you are dealing with the cost of travel, that any savings resulting in having a procedure here will not put a dent in, or offset this cost at all. Just as anything within the medical realm, it depends on what procedure you need, but the savings are still extreme enough to be able to more than cover the expenses you can incur with survival during your journey to get treatment.

Background on Medical Tourism in Costa Rica

During the 1980’s and 1990’s is when patients really began to look heavily into overseas options for healthcare that would drastically become more affordable. The industry as a whole continued to grow as many reported safe and successful experiences, and during the year 2011, San Jose registered more than 45,000 foreign patients that were arriving for treatment.

Plastic and reconstructive surgery, general surgeons that provide surgeries such as gastric bypass, and orthopedic surgeons are some of the most commonly sought-out practitioners that patients who come here via medical tourism are seeking out. Dermatologists are also another type of specialist that many are looking for when they come to Costa Rica: they can perform surgeries such as laser removals, and Botox.

Locations such as the Anti-Aging and Wellness Clinic in Escazu provide all of the common treatments to get rid of those frown lines and wrinkles. Some confuse botox with facial rejuvenation. Botox is a treatment that is injected into different areas of the face, and its purpose is to relax the muscles. Over time, the frown lines the patient wants to get rid of begin to fade and disappear.

Around 8.9 million people a year come to Costa Rica for procedures such as botox, and one great thing about this procedure is that there is virtually no downtime. After the procedure is done, you need to avoid medications such as Advil, Motrin, and Aleve, to make sure that there is not significant bruising. It can take anywhere from 2-7 days to see the final results, and avoiding exercise for one full day and not lying down for about 5 hours are some of the only post-surgery precautions you need to follow.

When undergoing a process such as laser hair removal in Costa Rica, there are a few important things to know. It is virtually painless, and during the procedure, cold air is blown across the skin to relieve any mild discomfort you may feel. You may need multiple treatments to make sure that the hair follicle will not continue to produce hair, and for that reason many patients choose to do an initial round in Costa Rica, and follow-up treatments in their home country.

Another procedure that is very popular for medical tourists to come here for is a breast lift. After years of aging and childbirth, many women want to have this surgery to look curvaceous and youthful once again. This process is performed under general anesthesia, and the surgeon removes excess breast skin and shifts the nipple to a higher position.

Even though the incision lines can be permanent, in most cases they fade and will improve over time. It’s important to hydrate adequately before and after surgery, and not to smoke for at least six weeks beforehand to promote faster healing. After a breast lift surgery, it is easily possible to return to work within a week or so. This is a popular procedure for medical tourists in Costa Rica, after which the results usually last for decades, and return the woman to her youthful look.

What are the Savings Like With Medical Tourism in Costa Rica?

The thing that many people really want to know about medical tourism in Costa Rica is how much they will save by coming here. One great aspect is that in years past, the airfare has gone down quite a bit, and the frequency of flights has gone up significantly.

On average, medical tourists can save anywhere from 50-70 percent on costs, and in most cases do not have to sacrifice for any level of quality. One example of a procedure that folks travel for is breast augmentation: in the US it can cost between $6,000 and $9,000, and in Costa Rica runs right around $3000 consistently.

One way to really break the cost down is to consider that a flight to Costa Rica is going to cost around $600, and that is with a 6-month + “booking ahead” strategy. A hotel that the patient and their spouse or loved one can share will cost around $120 per night, which is not as inflated as cities such as Paris and London.

Other Advantages Of Medical Tourism to Costa Rica

If you are coming to Costa Rica to have a procedure done that does not involve a life-threatening illness, and even if you are, you get to explore a very diverse and vibrant part of the world that is full of rain forests, beaches, and colorful markets full of wonderful wares. The locals here are very patient with those making an earnest attempt to learn the language, and are known to be very helpful if you are respectful and amiable.

If you are looking for a place such as a recovery facility or spa, you will very easily find one here that suits your needs. The doldrums of some of the colder places in the US won’t exist here, where you can get a massage under the sun, and enjoy staying in a lush and generally marvelous location.

The time that someone coming to Costa Rica for Medical tourism has to wait for the procedure is not nearly as long as other places, especially compared to what patients in Canada have to endure. As far as follow-up visits, these can be scheduled with doctors back home, so the patient is not again incurring airfare expense among others. But if you happen to really fall in love with the land, a return visit may once again be “just what the doctor ordered”, and you can experience this wonderful place all over again.


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6 thoughts on “Medical Tourism in Costa Rica (Attracting Foreigners)

  • Carol SmytheMarch 15, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    I am a Canadian and I recently had biological dental work done in Escazu (high-end suburb of San Jose) and my experience was more than I could’ve hoped for. I have worked in healthcare for 27 years, more recently in renal transplant research, so I had healthy skepticism going down. Was on holidays and decided to give safe amalgam removal a try. Standards of care met or exceeded Canadian standards (which are some of the highest in the world), prices were incredible, local accommodations were very high end. I plan on returning to finish my dental work. FYI: I am not being paid to make false claims, I am a real-life medical tourism client and would highly recommend CR.

    Reply
    • mikeplambeckMarch 15, 2017 at 9:30 pm

      Thanks Carol!

      Reply
  • Thomas EureMarch 18, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    I am planning on moving to Costa Rica and need to know if I can get the medications I take now. Can this site help with that?

    Reply
  • Anne AuldMarch 18, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    I traveled to Costa Rica for excellent dental work and a wonderful vacation in 2015. Acid reflux had severely eroded the enamel of my front teeth, and I needed 8 crowns to protect the teeth and prevent an emergency (breakage) situation. My husband needed an implant. We both had some whitening and minor restorations done as well. The cost was a fraction of what we would have paid in New York.

    The Costa Rica Dental Team facilitated the process, from airport pickup to hotel to transportation to the clinic. Their work chairside and in the lab met my high standards. I worked as a dental assistant and as a crown and bridge lab tech years ago, so I especially appreciated the experience and expertise I found in the clinic and lab. My co-workers say I have a movie-star smile now, and I encourage anyone in need of significant dental work to investigate Costa Rica. We will very likely return for further dental work and/or orthopedic surgery.

    Reply
    • WalkiriaMGMarch 20, 2017 at 5:50 pm

      Hi anne, we greatly appreciate your comment about this topic. And we are very pleased to know that you and your husband had an excellent Medical Tourism experience in Costa Rica.
      Thanks again and Have a wonderful day.

      Reply

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