Welcome to the Era of the Fake Six-Pack

Chiseled, visible abs were once something you’d see only on genetically-gifted gym rats.  But these days, a growing number of men are paying big money to have a surgeon do the chiseling for them. And in Turkey it’s not the big prices plastic surgeons want in the US or Australia! And the men are flocking!

At the 1993 conference of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, in Paris, a young doctor gave a speech with a provocative hook: What if liposuction could be used to give men six-pack abs? To the crowd of surgeons, the idea seemed foolish. “There was a little bit of uneasiness with the technique,” remembers the surgeon, Dr. Henry Mentz. He was largely ignored.

But Mentz had proof that this procedure could work. In 1992, he had been approached by a male model who, despite being in excellent shape, was never quite able to get a chiseled stomach. Could Mentz help? The model specifically asked if Mentz, who was just starting out in his practice, could use liposuction to carve grooves that would reveal his underlying abdominal muscles.

He gave it a shot. The results looked good. So Mentz did the procedure a second time, and a third, and a fourth. He co-authored a paper on this new technique, which he called “abdominal etching.” Now, 30 years later, he’s performed the operation over 3,000 times, and says the results have been “extremely durable.” Over the years, Mentz gave more speeches at more conferences. New technologies made the operation easier and available to more patients. Other surgeons embraced and evangelized the tech—some learning from Mentz, others cooking up similar ideas on their own. (Like agriculture and calculus, abdominal etching seems to have been invented in several places at around the same time.)

Ab Etching Welcome to the Era of the Fake SixPack

At plastic surgery conferences, ab etching went from fringe topic to headlining act; Dr. Daniel Markmann, ​a Baltimore-based plastic surgeon who independently began etching abs 20 years ago, says that at a 2021 conference it was “all anyone could talk about.” When Markmann started his practice decades ago, less than 5 percent of his clients were men. That has jumped to 30 percent, and, he says, “It’s all six packs.”

Now abdominal operations are everywhere. “If you look on almost any plastic surgeon’s website, they will have a section on men, and they’ll have a picture of a model who has zero body fat and really defined abs,” says Dr. Joshua Korman, a plastic surgeon based in Mountain View, California. He isn’t surprised by the rising popularity. The lure of a six-pack is obvious. “That’s what high school boys want,” he says. “That’s what college guys want. That’s what people of all ages want.”

And it is also what celebrities want. Fake abs might be the best kept secret in Hollywood. Dr. Gregory Lakin, another plastic surgeon who developed ab etching on his own, says that his patients include actors, singers, dancers, models—“even porn stars.” (He can’t disclose their identities for obvious reasons.)


You can understand why actors would be tempted—it’s not easy to replicate the abs of a Jersey Shore guy. Just ask a Jersey Shore guy. “I’ve always been a workout fanatic and I’ve always been in shape, but it also takes a lot of hard work to stay in shape,” Jersey Shore star Ronnie Ortiz-Magro said on E!s “The Doctors,” which devoted an episode to his ab etching transformation. Or take the Australian reality-star-turned politician, Darryn Lyons, who went public with his ab etching, saying “basically it’s the male version of the boob job.”

It’s gotten to the point where virtually no one, no matter how rich and famous, is safe from accusations of faking their six-pack. Not even Drake. After the rapper posted his abs of steel in a since-deleted Instagram post, Carnage, a well-known DJ, wrote in the comments, “You got fake ab surgery in Colombia you ain’t foolin’ anybody,” leading to a public spat. While Carnage is not the only person who has questioned Drake’s abs, this was probably just a joke; the two are friends. But it’s also true that (in an unrelated context) when asked which country is known for their abs operations, Lakin didn’t hesitate: “I’d say Colombia.”

Most of the men getting abs enhancements are not celebrities. They’re guys like defense contractor Tim Jahnigen, a 44-year-old dad. Jahnigen is a jock. He ran track in college. He’s always been in good shape—if never quite Thor-shape. No matter how many crunches he did or miles he ran, he could never achieve a six-pack.

So he paid a visit to Dr. Markmann. And the doctor asked him a crucial question: You’re in shape now, but are you going to stay that way? Will you gain weight in the future? Markmann asks this because not everyone is a candidate for ab etching. Most aren’t. The ideal patient is already fit, has a BMI under 30, has tight skin, and simply struggles to shed that final layer of belly fat. Their weight doesn’t yo-yo. Markmann’s typical patients are bodybuilders, cops, military guys, and security guards, but he’s also treated lawyers and doctors and trash collectors. His youngest patient was 20, his oldest 69, and he says his clientele is a mix of gay and straight guys.

Markmann can be blunt. “If you have a potbelly, that will look awfully funny,” he says. “On big beer-belly guys, I tell them to go home and lose weight and come back.” He adds that if you have “big love handles” or “big man boobs” or “a lot of fat under your arms,” all of that first needs to go. Basically, he says, you are a good candidate for a surgical six-pack “if you look like you should have a six-pack.”

This is the blessing and curse of ab etching: It will last for life. “The nice thing about fat cells is that you don’t make new ones,” explains Markmann. Your fat cells will expand or shrink when you gain or lose weight, but lipsuction eliminates the cell itself. This means that the six-pack is here to stay, forever, which is good news if you stay trim. On the flip side, as Lakin puts it, “If you gain weight, you’re going to look stupid.”


Often the surgery for abs doesn’t end with the abs. Frederick Hamilton, 60, is a retired law enforcement officer. He’s fit and trim with broad shoulders and a large chest. He speaks with confidence. But Hamilton was self-conscious about what he considered to be his “man boobs.” So he looked into plastic surgery and discovered Dr. Mentz, who told him about ab etching. Mentz used liposuction to chisel the chest, trim his love handles, and etch grooves into his abs.

“You don’t want to have a six-pack and round boobs,” explains Mentz, who estimates that half of his abs patients also get etching for the pecs, to give them a more “quadrangular appearance.” Plastic surgeons now have the ability to flip the liability of one body part to be an asset for another. For one recent patient, a bodybuilder, Markmann took some fat from beneath the armpit and slapped it on top of the pecs, giving more definition to the chest. As Markmann puts it, “I do the pecs, I do the love handles, I do the six-packs.” (He also does the butts; Markmann prides himself on being one of the first surgeons to perform the in-demand Brazilian Butt Lift.)

The procedure itself takes a few hours, maybe longer if you’re getting add-ons. The cost can range from $5,000 to $30,000. When Jahnigen woke up from the operation he was groggy, in a bit of pain, and found his torso wrapped in a bodysuit. Compression is key, post-surgery. Markmann had created a custom piece of foam and inserted it into the new grooves of the abs, like a puzzle piece. “This prevents the other fat cells nearby from falling back in that area,” he explains. “Fat’s like jello. If you squeeze it, you squish it flat. I want to keep the creases.”

Then the pain kicks in. Once the anesthesia wears off, Markmann acknowledges that it can feel like “getting punched in your stomach 100 times.” He recommends patients take a week off from work. No driving. No showering.

Robert, a 49-year-old veterinarian and another patient of Markmann’s, who requested to not use his real name, says the pain can be absolutely brutal. “They’re scraping all that tissue out of you,” he says. “When they push through all that fat, there are nerves and vessels.”

Like Jahnigen, Robert had spent a lifetime trying and failing to get his ideal abs. He dreaded taking his shirt off in public. “I’m in the gay community, and those guys can be really hard and judgmental,” says Robert. Every day he hit the gym—sometimes twice—and even starved himself on the quest for abs, trimming his caloric intake to 1,000 per day. That backfired, because even when he was able to briefly achieve that shiny six-pack, he lost so much weight he lost his other muscles. Part of him knew this was absurd. He acknowledges that our culture (including men’s magazines) has created an impossible standard for abs. “I’ve been tricked by the media to buy into that,” he acknowledges. But it was a look he had to have, so he came to Markmann. He wanted his abs etched. It was only after the surgery, in recovery, when feeling the shards of pain, he began to doubt his decision and he wondered, “What the hell did I do with my body?”



It’s easy for fake abs to truly look fake. Darryn Lyons, the Australian reality TV star (and later mayor of the city of Geelong), even admitted that when he eventually gained significant weight, “I’m looking more like a Ninja Turtle these days than a ripped, spartan specimen.”

And not all surgeons are properly trained to create a realistic-looking six-pack. “This is very hard,” says Lakin, who considers it to be a trickier procedure than plastic surgery staples like breast implants or face lifts. “This is art. This is one of the truest art forms of plastic surgery.” Lakin, who was once a medical consultant on Grey’s Anatomy, studies photographs of his patients and his operations every night, reviewing his work to analyze what he could have done better, like a football coach obsessing over game tape. Lakin gives ab etching to virtually every patient regardless of what they came in for, almost as an added bonus. “I throw it in for free,” he says, knowing that it fetches him referrals—he now sees abs as his calling card, luring patients to his Michigan office from L.A. and Miami.

“There are so many levels of detail that go into it, and it’s technically very challenging,” says Lakin, who calls his abs operation “Ab Silhouetch,” as in abs-plus-silhouette-plus-etch. (Surgeons often have their own marketing spin on the procedure.) If you draw the lines too straight it will look fake. Too shallow looks fake, too—so does too deep. “I’ve seen this with some young surgeons,” says Mentz. “They tend to make it look like a checkerboard. Like a tic-tac-toe board. It just looks too linear.”

This is why patients still have doubts until they can peel off the bandages and see the results. When it was finally time for Jahnigen to remove the wrap, he found that his torso “literally looked like Iron Man.” (Superheroes are a common theme. Mentz once told patients that he can give them “Superman” abs, but then he realized that Superman doesn’t always have a six-pack. Now he gives them “Batman” abs.) His girlfriend loved them. He told his friends, family, and even coworkers about the procedure. Whenever he lifts up his shirt to reveal the abs, he says the typical reaction is, “Holy fuck, are you kidding me?” His coworkers even gave him a new nickname. “Etch.”

Kenny Sloan, who’s 39 and lives in Fort Lauderdale, had a similar experience. He’s a patient of Dr. Lakin. He had dutifully worked out his whole life and never achieved a six-pack—until now, thanks to Ab Silhouetch. On a recent gay cruise, which Sloan describes as a “very sexualized experience, where everyone notices everyone’s body,” the new abs gave him a jolt of confidence. “I made the right decision. It was worth every dollar.”

Robert, who felt those stabby shards of pain, spent $19,000 on the operation. It took him three years to save up for it. But when he saw the results he felt vindicated—he looked ripped. On a recent trip to Miami, he was with a younger gay crowd packed with “gym-looking guys” and finally felt like he fit in. He knows that $19,000 is a lot of money—that he could have spent it on something more useful. Sometimes he’ll show his abs to his husband and ask, “How does my Honda Civic look?”


Ab Etching Welcome to the Era of the Fake SixPack

In some ways the “fake abs” from etching aren’t fake at all. They are, quite literally, the abdominal muscles you are born with. The six-pack is simply the original clump of muscles that, thanks to the removal of fat, can now be seen in all their sinewy glory. Saying the abs are fake is like saying Michelangelo’s David is fake; the sculpture was there all along—it just took an artist to chip away the outer layer.

On the other hand, when you see someone with abs, there’s an unspoken understanding (at least for now) that they achieved this through hard work, sweat, iron willpower, and a zealous aversion to carbs. It’s true that these patients all worked hard. They all showed discipline. But it’s also true that they now have a sneaky extra edge.

“I do feel like I cheated,” says Robert. When strangers compliment his abs and ask how he got the stunning results, sometimes he’ll tell the truth and sometimes he’ll lie. And sometimes he feels guilty. Not just for fibbing, but for perpetuating unrealistic body images.

These feelings aren’t universal—Jahnigen didn’t view his abs as some existential problem. It wasn’t that deep. He read about the procedure, he figured the health risks were low and the results looked good, and he had the money, so why not? When the nurse at Dr. Markmann’s office asked him why he was doing this, he replied simply, “I don’t know, because I wanted to?” Hamilton had a similar matter-of-fact rationale, saying, “I just wanted to tighten up some areas.” Simple. We don’t question or mock people for getting their teeth whitened.

Other patients point out that it seems to be more socially acceptable for women to get cosmetic surgery. “Men actually do have confidence issues, too,” says Sloan, pointing out that the average guy is not as stoic, self-assured, or indifferent to their appearance as they present on the surface. Hamilton says something similar. “There’s an unwritten thing that you have to be a manly man, and look the way you are, and that’s just the way that is.” If men want to use new techniques for upgrading their appearance, he asks, what’s the harm?

Psychology aside, there is one final practical question to consider. Jahnigen, Hamilton, Robert, and Sloan are all working hard to stay in peak shape. They know they must. “I needed to get the rest of my body up to par,” says Jahnigen, who has hit the gym nearly every day since his surgery three months ago. He wants to ensure his chest and arms and legs won’t look out of place with those Iron Man abs.

You could even say the extra motivation to stay in shape is healthy. But what about the future? What about when you’re 70 years old? Or 90? Because ab etching is so new (relative to other cosmetic procedures), there simply aren’t many octogenarians on the planet with six-packs. But there will be. Someday there could be a mini-generation of frail old men with abs of steel.

“It’s a risk,” Lakin concedes. Then again, Markmann considers this no different than the long-term consequences of breast implants. “There are definitely women out there in nursing homes with some nice boobs,” says Markmann. “I expect the same thing for guys with six-packs.”

Sun, sand, nip, tuck: one in three up for medical tourism

Looking for an affordable face lift without breaking the bank? Want to combine a tummy tuck with two weeks holiday abroad ? You’re not alone.

Nearly a third of people surveyed around the world say they are open to the idea of medical tourism – traveling abroad to enjoy cheaper medical or dental treatment according to a new Ipsos poll of 18,731 adults in 24 countries.

Indeed, 18 per cent said they would definitely consider it.


What better place to tuck up that turkey neck. Turkey is up and coming as one of Europe’s most reasonable destinations for cosmetic and plastic surgery. Prices are significantly lower than in North America or in Western Europe, but quality standards are decent. Many experienced Turkish surgeons are internationally trained and multilingual, and several Istanbul medical facilities are clean and modern. Of course, you need to choose your surgeon and facility wisely. Ask a lot of questions, verify credentials, check referrals and more. Budget shouldn’t be your only criteria when considering a serious cosmetic procedure.

“The concept of medical tourism is well accepted in many countries,” said Nicolas Boyon, senior vice president of Ipsos Public Affairs.

“With the exception of Japan there are at least one third of consumers in every country we covered that are open to the idea,” he said in an interview.

Whether for economic reasons or perceptions of superior treatment elsewhere, for treatments ranging from cosmetic to life-saving surgeries, Indians, Indonesians, Russians, Mexicans and Poles were the most open to the idea of being medically mobile.

Thirty-one per cent or more people in each of those countries said they would definitely consider traveling for a cosmetic, medical or dental treatment.

Conversely, people in Japan, South Korea, Spain and Sweden were least likely to be medical tourists.

Boyon said it was not surprising that men and women from emerging nations would be medically mobile if the treatments were cheaper.”This probably reflects perceptions of medical care in other countries that is superior to what is available at home,” he said.

But he was intrigued by the percentage of people in developed nations such as Italy, where 66 per cent said they would definitely or probably consider medical tourism, along with Germany (48 per cent), Canada (41 per cent) and the United States, where 38 per cent of people were open to the idea.”It is a reflection that the medical profession is no longer protected from globalisation,” Boyon said.


Although medical tourism spans a range of treatments, the most common are dental care, cosmetic surgery, elective surgery and fertility treatment, according to an OECD report.

“The medical tourist industry is dynamic and volatile and a range of factors including the economic climate, domestic policy changes, political instability, travel restrictions, advertising practices, geo-political shifts, and innovative and pioneering forms of treatment may all contribute towards shifts in patterns of consumption and production of domestic and overseas health services,” the report said.

Various studies using different criteria have estimated that anywhere between 60,000 to 750,000 US residents travel abroad for health care each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Along with variations among countries, the Ipsos survey showed that younger adults under 35 years of age were more likely in most countries to consider medical tourism, than people 50 to 64 years old.

Boyon suggested that the cost of travel, proximity, borders and quality of care may also be factors considered by potential medical tourists. In both Italy and Germany, about 20 per cent of adults said they would definitely consider medical tourism. Both countries are near Hungary, a popular destination for health treatments.

Ipsos conducted the poll in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea,Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.

Based on story published in The Sydney Morning Herald- Traveller


Medical tourism in Turkey: Why it is a cosmetic surgery hub

Known for its pristine Aegean beaches and architectural wonders, Turkey also draws tourists for its cosmetic treatments.

Turkey’s health and cosmetic surgery industries have the winning tickets in a globally competitive marketplace with throngs of red scalped men in Istanbul’s public squares and bandaged noses in its metro stations. It’s unlikely to disappear anytime soon with Australia the latest nation to take notice.

The bottom line is that cosmetic surgery is big business for Turkey and it’s all about the price!

Patients are drawn to Turkey for procedures like hair transplants due to cheap prices and the speed of procedures 

Flights back from the Turkish city to Western Europe or the United States and now Australia are often full of people bandaged up, avoiding eye contact with fellow travellers.

Fillers, botox treatments and rhinoplasties are also popular procedures for tourists looking to change their appearance.

Affordable prices, visa free entry and short flight distances from much of West Asia, North Africa and Europe, all add to the appeal of visiting Turkey to get medical and cosmetic procedures done.

Some experts are watching the trend with concern, though, pointing to unethical marketing tactics, results that do not match up with promises and lack of legal protections.

Despite this, the country is a top ten destination for medical tourism globally, with 600 registered clinics in Istanbul alone, according to Patients Beyond Borders (PBB), an organisation that surveys medical tourism.

According to local media reports, more than 100,000 people visit the country for hair transplant procedures alone, the vast majority from Arab states. 

The importance of cost

“People can find quality service at affordable prices and work with surgeons and technicians who know the job well,” Ekram Caymaz tells Middle East Eye, succinctly explaining the appeal of “getting work done” in Turkey.

A leading clinician in hair transplantation at Istanbul’s Hair Upload clinic, Caymaz says patients are drawn to Turkey for its comprehensive approach to customer care.

For example, most clinics will not offer the surgery alone but as a package deal, which can include everything from flights, transfers, luxury accommodation, regular aftercare and even tours of the city.

Patients with bandaged heads after undergoing hair transplants in Turkey 

For the customer that means every aspect of the procedure is taken care of – they simply need to turn up.

Prices are another draw, with Caymaz charging between $4,000 and $6,000 for his hair transplant procedure, which is considered cheap. Others can be as low as just over $1,000, though the quality of service inevitably varies wildly.

In comparison, procedures such as hair transplants are not available for free on the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and can cost as much as £30,000 ($36,700) when done privately. 

Similarly, cosmetic rhinoplasties can cost around £7,000 in Britain ($8,570), not including the cost of consultations and follow ups, whereas in Turkey the procedure costs less than half that.

Key overheads, such as staff salaries, are much lower in Turkey than in Western Europe or the US, while standards of medical training are relatively high compared to other countries in the Middle East or Asia.

Turkey’s ongoing economic crisis has also helped depress prices to a degree that keeps them affordable for Europeans. 

Speed of treatment

But price is not the sole reason for the popularity of cosmetic and other procedures in Turkey.

Speed of treatment is another factor, albeit one that serves as something of a double-edged sword.

Weight loss surgeries, for example, are only available on the NHS in extreme cases, for people who have a body mass index of 40 or more, meaning they are severely obese.

Before proceeding, patients must agree to a rigorous long term follow-up after the surgery, including making healthy lifestyle changes and regular check-ups. Even for people who are eligible, the wait for treatment can last years.

A general view shows the Blue Mosque and the empty Sultanahmet square after a blast in Istanbul’s tourist hub on January 12, 2016. – At least 10 people were killed and 15 wounded in a suspected terrorist attack in the main tourist hub of Turkey’s largest city Istanbul, officials said. A powerful blast rocked the Sultanahmet neighbourhood which is home to Istanbul’s biggest concentration of monuments and and is visited by tens of thousands of tourists every day.

Safety and the black market

Some experts, though, have warned that patients in search of quick and affordable solutions could be setting themselves up for trouble further down the line.

Cosmetic dentist Sam Jethwa, from the UK-based Perfect Smile Studios, tells Middle East Eye that patients can easily be misled when it comes to cosmetic procedures. 

“Getting a dental procedure abroad means you risk not having any legal protection, which can leave patients with difficulties afterwards,” he says, adding that patients can also be misinformed, resulting in needing further treatment or repeat procedures.

“The need to have corrective work done back in the UK due to botched cosmetic dentistry procedures (abroad) is on the rise,” Jethwa says. 

“We see these patients attending our clinic afterwards regularly, sadly after patients have already chosen treatments that they were not fully appreciative of the risks of.”

While there is no suggestion that a typical procedure in Turkey will result in problems for patients, there are those looking to capitalise on the trend and exploit vulnerable patients.

The International Society for Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS), a global non-profit medical association active in over 70 countries, has launched a campaign named Fight the Fight in an effort to shed light on the dangers of the “medical black market” and medical tourism package deals. 

Launched in 2019 in response to the growing number of people going to unlicensed technicians to get hair surgeries, the organisation offers support to victims of treatments that have gone wrong and provides education and training about the subject. 

ISHRS says there have been cases where doctors or those purporting to have medical training have misled patients and carried out illegal practices, resulting in injuries, scarring and the depleted or uneven appearance of hair. 

Caymaz reiterates that the onus to make an informed decision lies with the patient.

“Although clinics and hospitals are inspected, there are so called ‘under the stairs’ places, which are much cheaper,” he says. 

“It is very important to examine their social media and videos, the words they say and what is written must match up.”

According to the doctor, one of the main issues within the industry is the lack of follow-up after the operation to ensure there are no complications.

“This is a very important detail, and most clinics in Istanbul do not follow up after the operation. Even customers who have had operations in other clinics ask us about this,” Caymaz says. 

Social media and medical tourism

Anyone likely to have mentioned hair loss, weight gain or insecurity about their looks online is likely to have been bombarded with Instagram or Google adverts promising affordable and sometimes miraculous solutions to their issues.

Part of the reason for the popularity of medical and cosmetic tourism is social media advertising.

This trend is compounded by entertainment news coverage of celebrities going public about their own procedures.

Rhinoplasties are one of the most common surgeries patients come to Istanbul.

Hair transplants are very popular among footballers, with Wayne Rooney confirming he had one in 2011 and Emirati singer Hussain Al Jassmi putting his dramatic weight loss down to a gastric bypass in 2010.

Selena Marianova, a UK based 22-year-old social media content creator and clinic owner, says that social media has an “undeniable influence” on individuals considering surgical enhancements. 

In a YouTube video, viewed over 300,000 times, Marianova recounts her experience to her followers. She says that she wants to help other people by sharing information, and that she chose Turkey for her surgery because of their advanced medical technology and experienced doctors. 

Marianova went to Istanbul for a rhinoplasty in 2019, cautioning, however, that young people need to feel confident in who they are before they proceed with any surgical enhancements.

“Plastic surgery isn’t to be taken lightheartedly,” she says. “Being a content creator, it is extremely hard to not pinpoint parts of myself that would need ‘improvement’ because I am constantly looking at myself in videos, photos and in the mirror, which can be very mentally draining for people who do not have a strong self concept.” 

The link between social media use and negative self-image is well established by researchers but for all the ethical considerations, the bottom line is that cosmetic surgery is big business for Turkey.

In 2018, the cosmetic enhancement industry was worth $2bn in Turkey and hair transplants alone are now a billion dollar industry

Those valuations are likely to have increased in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a surge in interest in cosmetic surgery globally.

Despite the concerns, Turkey’s health and cosmetic surgery industries are winning tickets in a country otherwise suffering economically.

The throngs of red scalped men in Istanbul’s public squares and bandaged noses in its metro stations are therefore unlikely to disappear anytime soon.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition. and English

As Botox parties take off, doctors warn of risks

BOTOX parties are on the rise in Queensland, but doctors have urged caution, saying they were regularly called on to fix botched Botox procedures.

Botox party host Claire Licciardo and Hollie Anderson, who says the parties are less intimidating than visiting a clinic.

BOTOX parties are on the rise in Queensland, as everyone from brides-to-be to high-flying lawyers look for a cheaper, more convenient way to turn back the clock.

But specialist doctors urged caution, saying they were regularly called on to fix botched Botox party procedures undertaken by unqualified practitioners.

Cosmetic Holidays International managing director Claire Licciardo said there had been a surge in demand for at-home cosmetic injections in the past few months, and she was now hosting as many as three parties a week with a qualified doctor in southeast Queensland.

She said men in their 40s, lawyers, businessmen, gym owners, strippers and bridal parties were just some of the people flocking to attend parties, at which she said it cost $8 a unit for anti-wrinkle treatments and about $400 for lip fillers.

An internet search turned up evidence of other clinics and registered nurses who are willing to host at-home Botox parties

An internet search turned up evidence of other clinics and registered nurses who are willing to host at-home Botox parties

The parties usually last for at least three hours and Ms Licciardo travels to customers’ homes with a doctor registered with the Medical Board of Australia who can administer cosmetic injections and dermal fillers. The venue host receives a discount.

Ms Licciardo enforces a six-person limit at her parties and said for safety reasons, the consumption of ­alcohol was not allowed.

“I’m not going to boss people around, but we’re very clear,” she said. “We prefer people not to have ­alcohol before.

“What they do after we leave is none of my business.”

Hollie Anderson, 27, plans to host a Botox party and said it was less intimidating than visiting a clinic.

“Plus, we can make an evening of it,” she said.

Mishaps don’t just happen at Botox parties. Lawyer Raluca Crisan claims this reaction was the result of mistakenly being injected with snake venom – in a clinic.

Brisbane Skin director and specialist dermatologist Shobhan Manoharan said he’d been approached to give injections in a party setting, but said it’s something he would not do as patients could not be sure what was being injected and a home wasn’t as sterile as a clinic.

He said he regularly sees patients with complications from a Botox party and was especially concerned that the parties were expanding to offer fillers, which could cause serious issues, such as tissue death.

He said that while smaller complications tended to be more common, poor injection skills could lead to brow drops, dribbling problems, and even blindness.

“I’ve had patients who have had to fly in (to Brisbane) from North Queensland to see me because of a Botox party injectable complication there,” he said.

Queensland Health also warns against the practice.

Ms Licciardo, who has worked in the cosmetic surgery industry for years, said Botox parties sometimes got a “bad rap”, but she’d only ever work with a registered doctor. 

Story was published in The Courier Mail

Bed, board and a new pair of boobs

NIP-TUCK holidaymakers booking again!

NIP-TUCK holidaymakers booking in again post-covid for cut-price cosmetic surgery in Asia in record numbers are being greeted with at five-star hospitals.

A Sunday Mail investigation in Thailand a decade ago found Australians are using our partnered pkush hospitals complete with chandeliers and the full VIP service!
Our patients can wake up with new breasts or a trim tummy the day for up to a third the price of surgery at home.

Queenslanders are among the patients flocking to the cosmetic surgery hotspot for new breasts and flat stomachs for as little as $6500.

Some hospitals the Courier Mail visited operated like well-oiled machines with highly trained surgeons  some managed by US and Australian management teams,   leading impressed patients to “upsize” from a single procedure to a range of extras, including botox, dental work, eyelid lifts or liposuction.

Group Tours are are back again with Australians are signing-up to cosmetic surgery group tours popular again.

Pre-covid, in the country’s south, Phuket International Hospital was treating 1000 Australians a year  20 times the number four years ago.

The hospital estimates 10,000 Australians a year are flying to Thailand for cosmetic surgery.

“When you are talking about plastic surgery, it is doubling each year,” they said.

Queenslanders make up a quarter of the patients at the hospital, mostly women having breast enlargements.

In Australia, implants can cost between $8000-$17,000.

That compares to about $5000 in Thailand at a major hospital, including surgery, flights and accommodation.

University of Technology Sydney senior lecturer Dr Meredith Jones and researcher on the Sun, Sea, Sand and Silicone project said more Australians were considering cosmetic surgery only after hearing about the cheap price overseas from their girlfriends.

“They were getting it because it is cheap not because they decided I have to have this, now what is the cheapest option?” she said.

Original story published in The Courier Mail

A stronger, more positive comeback for Malaysia’s medical tourism

MHTC aims to continue developing existing offerings and enhancing healthcare experiences through niche branding initiatives. — Photos: Pixabay

Malaysia’s health tourism sector, which has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, is showing signs of a stronger comeback as the nation heads into 2023, propelled by the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Industry Blueprint 2021-2025.

Malaysia has built a strong reputation as a safe and trusted global destination for healthcare over the past 10 years, with visitors from across the world coming for a range of treatments.

In the next phase, this segment will continue to focus on treatment services such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF), cardiology, oncology, orthopaedic, neurology, dental, aesthetics and general health screening, while unleashing the full potential of the industry, covering the areas of preventive treatments and healthcare.

Five-year industry blueprint

Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) chief executive officer Mohd Daud Mohd Arif said, during the recovery phase, more emphasis is being placed on the healthcare travel ecosystem as readiness measures for the industry to recover and move into a new phase.

“We are now in a solid position to embark on the next phase of the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Industry Blueprint in 2023 to rebuild the industry, while enhancing service delivery of a seamless end-to-end experience for all healthcare travellers.

“Guided strongly by the blueprint, we are on course for a continuous and sustainable industry growth, focusing on providing the best Malaysia healthcare travel experience by leveraging our strengths in three key pillars.

“The three pillars consist of the Healthcare Travel Ecosystem, which focuses on enhancing service quality and experience of care; Malaysia Healthcare Brand, to increase brand cohesiveness across key touchpoints and amplify our brand equity in core markets; Markets, (which) we are looking at growing beyond primary markets and exploring more niche markets to strengthen our presence,” Mohd Daud said in an interview.

MHTC will be enhancing these pillars through collaborations with local, regional and global stakeholders to create value for the entire industry.

“The rebuild phase will also see the industry driving forward with a focus on both curative and preventive treatments as well as several niche branding initiatives such as in cardiology, oncology, fertility, and dental treatments as well as premium wellness offerings, inviting healthcare travellers to experience and rediscover the best of healthcare in Malaysia,” he added.

Top destination

Currently, Malaysia is ranked among the top medical tourism destinations in Asia, alongside India, Thailand, Singapore and South Korea.

President of the Association of Private Hospitals (APHM) Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh has said, Malaysia is one of the best in South-East Asia in terms of cost and high standard of healthcare.

Mohd Daud said Malaysia’s healthcare system has been internationally recognised and has garnered numerous global accolades over the years. They include International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ) Destination of the Year: Malaysia (2015, 2016, 2017 and 2020); IMTJ Cluster of the Year: Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020); Asia Pacific Healthcare and Medical Tourism Awards (2016-2022); and International Living: Asia’s Top Destination for Retirement Living (2015-2022).

He said Malaysia saw significant declines in healthcare travel revenue from RM1.7bil in 2019 to RM777mil and RM585mil in 2020 and 2021 respectively, due to the Covid-19

“However, the industry’s swift response to the pandemic has led to fruitful results. Anchoring heavily on public-private partnerships (PPPs), our success as a destination has been an all-industry effort. Together, we have cultivated a solid ecosystem, further positioning Malaysia as a safe and trusted destination for healthcare travellers as we recover from the pandemic,” he added.

Malaysia’s healthcare travel sector will focus on several treatment services this year, including dental.

Malaysia’s healthcare travel sector will focus on several treatment services this year, including dental.

Following the opening of borders in April this year, the sector has seen an encouraging surge in the number of healthcare traveller arrivals

“As of the third quarter of (Q3) 2022, the industry recorded RM726mil of revenue, bringing us closer to our target of achieving RM1bil for 2022. This signifies the healthcare travellers’ trust on Malaysia as a safe and trusted healthcare travel destination, as well as the industry’s positive recovery and growth,” Mohd Daud said.

Discover new fields

Leveraging the demand for niche treatments and its excellent track records, MHTC aims to continue developing existing offerings and enhancing the Malaysia healthcare experiences through niche branding initiatives, which include preventive healthcare and wellness.

“In recent years, the global population has become increasingly diligent in prioritising their physical and mental wellness.

“In response to this trend, Malaysia healthcare introduced a Premium Wellness Programme, an industry-wide collaborative effort with top-tier private hospitals, hotels and travel companies in the country to integrate comprehensive health screening, world-class accommodation and leisure tour offerings into one convenient comprehensive premium package for healthcare travellers.

“Through this programme, we aim to empower the global population by inspiring healthier lifestyles via enhanced health screening offerings, with options for add-ons for dental aesthetics, cosmetic procedures and focused screenings and treatments for Hepatitis C, cancer and heart related disease,” said Mohd Daud.

Malaysia Healthcare has identified Indonesia, China, Bangladesh and Myanmar as core markets based on the volume of healthcare travellers, as well as the growth potential in the respective markets.

It also plans to increase the market penetration in those countries while aggressively raising the country’s profile in secondary markets like Hong Kong, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore and Australia.

“Currently, Indonesia represents one of the key markets for Malaysia Healthcare, with healthcare travellers from Jakarta, Surabaya, and Medan making up the majority of those seeking care in Malaysia, to complement the healthcare services obtained in their home country.

“Penang and Melaka are healthcare travel hot spots for Indonesian travellers, dominating more than 70% of total arrivals,” he added.

In terms of travellers by origin, Malaysia continues to attract healthcare travellers from many countries, not just within the region.

For the past decade, citizens from Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Britain, and the United States make up the top countries of arrival in Malaysia.

Poised for positive growth

Meanwhile, MSU Medical Centre (MSUMC) chief executive officer Zahri Abd Ghani said the health tourism sector’s growth after the pandemic brought positive spill-over effects on the organisation.

Buoyed by the turnaround, MSUMC undertook to refresh its mission of “Caring, Healing, Educating” by providing quality, accessible and affordable services to its customers based on MHTC’s recovery plan for the industry.

MSUMC which began operations in January 2019, offers treatment services such as neurosurgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, orthopaedic, cardiology, nephrology, hyperbaric oxygen therapy and ophthalmology.

“In general, the segment for overseas patients at MSUMC covers health check-up such as brain and backbone screening package, orthopaedic, plastic and reconstructive surgery, general surgery, nephrology, neurosurgery and cardiology.

“The world-class health care services provided by hospitals such as MSUMC, continue to open the floodgates for healthcare tourism. Malaysia has emerged as one of the preferred destinations for medical tourists given its highly-specialised medical treatment options, reasonable fees and patient comfort coupled with experienced medical experts who are fully equipped to meet patient demands,” he added.

MSUMC has earned international recognition for its reconstructive surgery such as for lymphoedema (chronic condition that causes swelling in the body’s tissue), gum cancer, acid burn, omphalocele (birth defect of the abdominal wall) and craniofacial growth (the cranial base matures earlier than the face).

MSUMC has also received full accreditation from the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for a four-year term as recognition for achieving compliance to service quality and healthcare safety standards.

“The recognition that Malaysia earns as among the world’s best medical and healthcare tourism destinations augurs well for the sector, which remains on a positive trajectory with ample room for growth,” he said adding that it would directly push demand for skilled human resources and generate more employment opportunities.

He said MSUMC has proactively worked in collaboration with the health tourism industry stakeholders particularly MHTC which plays a vital role in promoting Malaysia’s health tourism to the global community through cooperation with regional and international media practitioners.

High standards

A senior lecturer from the Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Melaka, Akmal Adanan said, emphasis should be given towards safety and health aspects based on set guidelines by the authorities, noting that local health tourism management practices should be on par with international standards to gain tourist confidence.

Industry players should be ready to offer flexible, reasonable and varied service packages in addition to taking proactive steps in accepting the latest technology, such as adapting the Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications for data analysis and to meet customer needs.

“The ‘Chatbot’ system that is available in ML allows service providers to interact for 24 hours with their clients online to respond to various queries including providing effective treatment schedules.

“Hospital authorities and service providers should maximise their service promotions especially on the social media platform. The promotion content should be more creative, focusing on soft selling marketing approach such as short videos that provide information as well as useful health tips while promoting the facilities, doctors’ expertise and special services offered,” he said.

Coordination between the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, the Ministry of Health and MHTC should be strengthened to ensure the health tourism sector provides quality service and continue to attract more tourists from both locally and abroad.

Finance incentives aimed at boosting the operational resilience of the health tourism sector such as awarding of grants, subsidies, sponsorships and deductions or tax exemptions should be considered for the sector’s revival, in addition to tourist friendly policies, rules and procedures such as simplifying the visa process.

In addition, educational programmes, training and professional development courses for industry players can help enhance the quality of their products and services.

“In general, the tourism sector has experienced significant declines in terms of tourist arrivals and earnings due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It may take a long time before the industry can recover to its pre-pandemic levels.

“However, the health tourism sector is poised for positive growth next year given that quality health services are always in demand especially among tourists from neighbouring Indonesia and Singapore as well as China.

“Besides being blessed with scenic and attractive sites for tourists to spend their vacation, the highly trained doctors as well as competitive treatment costs are also a major draw among medical tourists to Malaysia,” he said, adding that continuous studies should be conducted on certain groups’ inclination for choosing treatment destinations. – Bernama

Published in The Star Monday, 02 Jan 2023

Young women rush overseas for enlargements Big boob boom


YOUNG Gold Coast women seeking `hot looks’ in bikinis through cheap overseas cosmetic surgery have fuelled a breast-enlargement boom.

The number of Gold Coast models going under the knife has soared from 5 per cent five years ago, to 40 per cent today, said director of Lush Models, Rebecca Lush.

She said the the Gold Coast’s first medical tourism agency in Bundall, had influenced the surge.

“Breast enhancements in Australia have always been out of most of the girls’ price range, but now with the much cheaper procedures in Asia it’s become a lot more common,” she said.

Breast implants on the Coast cost between $10,000-$15,000, but in Bumrungrad International Hospital, Bangkok, they are

between $3000-$4000.

Surfers Paradise model Bronwyn Gendall said it cost her $6000 for surgery, flights and 10 days of five-star accommodation.

“It was quite scary heading to another country for surgery, especially with the horror stories of people having botched jobs done over there, but then dodgy operations happen here too – they’re just not as publicised,” she said.

“Within 12 hours of arriving the breast implants were all done, nothing went wrong and the nurses were so lovely; they came in to check on us at the hotel.”

Company director Claire Licciardo said women needed to choose carefully to avoid cosmetic disaster.

Bali’s new hospital is opening soon!

Medical tourism in Bali

The beautiful holiday island of Bali is set to be a medical tourism destination new international hospital built by the Indonesian Ministry of State-owned Enterprises in partnership with the US-owned Mayo Clinic. NipTuck Holidays sources say Sanur International Hospital, the new world-class international 300-bed hospital, is on track for completion in this year with the concept is to position Bali as a world-leading health tourism destination!

The Sanur International Hospital is bringing in consultants from the Mayo Clinic and  international doctors and surgeons who have graduated and practised abroad, with the focus on South Korea.

Currently the legislation makes it hard for doctors and other medical professionals who have trained outside of Indonesia to come to work in the country, however the recruitment process is underway for specialist doctors and that only the best candidates will be chosen.

The Governor of Bali said, “the aim is to position quality, safety, and patient experience at the highest international standards.” He told the audience that the whole project is being designed in partnership with the NipTuck Holidays partners Mayo Clinic, the best hospital in the US. The partnership is developing not only the hospital building itself but working to create the best governance, management, and workplace culture possible.

The international hospital is being built on a former golf course on the coast of Bali near Sanur, close to Grand Inna Bali Beach Resort. The area is on the quiet east coast with white sand beaches and is popular with retirees and elderly tourists.

The hospital grounds merge with the famous Bali Beach Grand Inna Hotel, a new meeting and exhibition center, and a living pharmacy featuring an ethnomedical botanical garden to draw upon traditional Balinese medical practices as complementary therapy to the modern practices within the hospital. There will also be a commercial center for health, wellness, and medical-related medium, small, and micro-enterprises to support the local economy further.

Bali Beach Grand Inna Hotel

While Bali has become synonymous with wellness travel, there will be an even greater focus on medical, health, and wellness tourism and together with NipTuck Holidays to promote Bali as a medical tourism destination.

Medical Tourism in Turkey

Published in the International Business Times


By IBT Contributor on 10/21/21 at 4:34 pm edit

Medical tourism in Turkey is one of the driving forces behind its economy as thousands of patients flood the international clinics and hospitals in Turkey every year all year round to undergo different treatments.

The various treatments that foreign patients look for in Turkey include simple non-surgical treatments to the most invasive surgical and medical treatments.

Beautiful view on Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey

Why is Medical Tourism in Turkey Popular?

Turkey has a unique geographical location, especially its most famous city Istanbul, which is only a three hours flight from most of the capitals in the world.

Istanbul has gained an irrefutable reputation in the field of medical tourism because of many factors including:

  • Advanced medical techniques and the newest technologies are used in different medical fields.
  • Well-trained and experienced doctors, nurses, physicians, and others working in the medical field.
  • Price may be one of the most effective factors when it comes to the increasing number of foreign patients who choose medical tourism in Turkey.

The cost of treatments, as well as the cost of living in Turkey, is low when compared to different European countries, the USA, or Canada (incl. Australia and the UK) 

  • Hospitals and clinics that are built and operated according to the best European standards.
  • It is easy to acquire a visa to visit Turkey for most nationalities.

What are the Fields of Medical Tourism in Turkey?

As we mentioned earlier foreign patients come to Turkey seeking many treatments, the most popular of which are:

  • Hair transplantation:

Istanbul is the first destination when it comes to hair transplantation. There are hundreds of hair transplantation clinics that provide their patients with natural results and perform this procedure using different techniques and the latest discoveries in the field.

  • Dental Treatments:

Turkey became among the most famous medical tourism destinations in the field of dental treatments because of the high quality of the materials used in the treatments on the one hand, and the affordable cost of these treatments on the other.

International dental clinics, welcomes thousands of patients every year to have dental implants, dentures, or Hollywood smile treatments among many other dental treatments that are less costly than most of the European countries.

  • Plastic Surgery:

Plastic surgery is one of the beams that hold medical tourism in Turkey. Turkey is among the top ten countries in the world in this field. Patients choose Turkey to have their plastic surgery due to the affordable pieces, high-quality services, accredited hospitals, and clinics.

Prices of treatments, hotels, and other expenses in Turkey are cheaper by 60% to 80% when compared with other different countries especially North America, Canada the UK and Australia.

Dental medical tourism in Turkey witnessed a leap in the number of foreign patients who choose Turkey as the destination for receiving dental treatments. Clinics like Dentakay welcomed thousands of dental patients during the past months who came to Turkey to have dental treatments and spend their vacations in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Istanbul.

It is worth mentioning that the number of medical tourism patients in Turkey in 2019 was 551,748 patients with 2 billion US dollars in revenues. The expected revenue of medical tourism in Turkey by 2023 is 20 billion US dollars according to some Turkish officials who anticipate an increase in the number of patients who choose Turkey as a destination for leisure, business, and medical tourism.