Going Under the Knife Abroad

(Or How I Spent My Summer Vacation)

By Kimberly Kosta

Back in 2012, I was rocking in the ROK (Republic of Korea) and having a marvellous go of it until my two besties at the time decided they needed to move on to other pastures. Knowing I was losing two good friends naturally meant I needed to go to Bangkok and buy two new friends, um…unnaturally. I’d like to introduce you to My Rack. It’s like Iraq, but instead of being stony and sandy it’s hilly and soft.

Okay pause. I know what you’re thinking: Did I really get on a plane and go get a boob job out of nowhere just because my girlfriends left town? Yes and no.

I wanted to be spontaneous and wild, yes, but I’d not only looked into the surgery years before, but the particular hospital I had in mind, too. I’m speaking of Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, and it exceeded my expectations. Besides being internationally known for its very cheap yet high quality care, I had a family member inform me of her experiences first hand years before. I had just kind of dropped the idea until I suddenly had two weeks of free time, money to burn and a youth to misspend. I booked my surgery three days from the initial email. They were efficient to say the least.

Picture it: A modern hospital staffed with the friendliest of Thai people. Picture your private room being nicer than your hotel room, furnished with a cloud-like bed, a kitchenette, a flat screen TV and a living room. Picture two nurses per shift checking on you and making sure you’re getting enough morphine. Picture this for only three or four thousand dollars (at the time) for major surgery. I woke up and stayed for about 48 hours before heading back down the street to my hotel. I was almost sad to leave. The work they did was so good I was already going on tours a couple of days later.

It was probably one of the best vacations I’ve ever had, and I got two new “girlfriends” out of the deal.

Medical tourism is the big thing right now and if you know the risks and inform yourself properly you can benefit greatly from this booming industry. Read up on the pit falls (know the horror stories!) but look into the success stories also. And KNOW YOURSELF. I know so many friends who go can’t go one shade lighter or darker than their normal hair color at the salon without having a breakdown over what the stylist ‘did to them’. Half the time I can’t even see a real difference. If that’s familiar, then surgery isn’t for you. You’re going to change, and have scars and be different (which is the point), so you have to picture yourself adjusting to that. On the other hand, whether you’re ‘fixing’ something that bothered you, or if you’re just changing something for fun like I did, remember it’s just cosmetic frippery. It’s like veneers or a tattoo: you’re stuck with it but it doesn’t change who you actually are. I’d never suggest surgery as a solution for low self-esteem for example.

Would I use Bumrungrad again? Ha! Trick question, I already did! I got double eyelid surgery in 2013, and not only was it also a success, but when I found out my Grandpa (who was staying in the southern region of Thailand) was in medical distress, I asked the doctor’s if we could have the follow up appointment sooner. The doctor said “absolutely!” and came in on a SATURDAY. Just for me and one other guy in his own pickle. My eyes turned out fine, and bonus: My Grandpa made a full recovery. (Wait…Maybe I should have written that the other way around…The bonus was the eyes – the eyes!)

The doctors were professional and friendly and did a great job, and I feel totally healthy/normal/fine years later. (I think I just celebrated my 5 year booby-versary). I’ve had dental work this past year that was harder to deal with, suffer through and recover from. I can’t say I traded UP ‘friendship-wise’ but I certainly traded OUT decently well. (Heh). And I did it alone. The best part was being able to go on tours, eat at the restaurants and take in Bangkok afterwards. I didn’t have a lot of luggage to worry about hauling around either (something to consider if you want major surgery), and I made sure to book myself into a hotel that was a five-minute walk away. The hardest part was crossing the street.

Oh, and Bumrungrad also has a McDonald’s in it, which I thought was weird, being a facility dedicated to health and all, but in the end it was kind of a nice convenience when my stomach was recovering from the procedure and I needed something bland and familiar to eat. So, there you have it. You can make the experience a true ‘happy meal’ (ha, ha).