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Everything you need to know about medical makeovers in Thailand

If you’ve been thinking about a boob job, tummy tuck, face lift or having your teeth done for AGES – then read on…

Paul and Swee McGowan

Paul and Swee McGowan. Pic courtesy of Travel Inc

I just had coffee with Paul McGowan, founder of Stunning Makeovers. He sends hundreds of clients up to Thailand each year and while we’ve all heard the horror stories, this is one business who makes sure it’s done with the highest ethical standards, using personally screened plastic surgeons and hospitals and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive.

You can imagine how I picked his brains!

How did you start? Paul had been to his dentist in Auckland and had a quote for bridgework of $6,500. He and his wife Swee, who is Malaysian, were off to Kuala Lumpur for a holiday and she suggested he go to her dentist and get a quote there. “I walked in to this state-of-the-art clinic where computers were available for patients to clear email, a barista was making coffee and I could have had a wine at the bar! The facilities were so good and I had the work done for $2,500 and 6 years later it’s never caused me any problem.”

Vejthani Hospital Bangkok

Vejthani Hospital Bangkok

So why Thailand? In 2007 they spent a year researching and interviewing surgeons in Thailand where facilities are of a higher standard. They visited hospitals and hotels and after satisfying themselves that they had the best on board, launched Stunning Makeovers.

What procedures do they do? The most popular is a boob job (sorry, breast augmentation) and often combined with a tummy tuck. But others go for face lifts, dental work, lipo – anything that falls under elective surgery like you would have on Remuera Road.

Phuket International Hospital

Phuket International Hospital

Phuket plastic surgery patients

Phuket plastic surgery patients

Talk us through the experience – Clients make contact with Paul and Swee by email or over the phone and discuss the treatment they would like to have. Not everyone is automatically accepted though. If someone wants a boob job because her husband has run off with another woman, she’s probably not going to have a great experience because ultimately other issues are at play. So once you’ve agreed on the procedure, you decide if you want to join a group trip and be escorted by Paul personally, or go at another time and take a friend or just travel alone.

When you arrive in Bangkok you will be met by the Stunning Makeovers driver (whether or not he is stunning is a matter of debate) who will take you to your hotel, pick you up the next day to take you to hospital and take you back to your hotel following the procedure – up to 2 days later. Paul will be in touch with you following the procedure to check how things went. You’ll then spend a few days enjoying your resort in either Phuket or Bangkok (sunbathing, shopping, spa treatments, drinking cocktails!), and the driver will take you back to hospital for your follow up, stitches out, that sort of thing.

Operating Theatre

Under the knife!

Where are the hospitals? Stunning Makeovers use four international hospitals and 22 surgeons who receive patients for plastic surgery from all over the world. Two are in Bangkok and two in Phuket.

How much does it cost? It depends on the procedures you have obviously, but as a ball park, a boob job and tummy tuck including return airfares from NZ, 12 days accommodation including 2 nights in hospital, surgery and after care would be around NZ$10,000. Compare that to a plastic surgeon in NZ who would charge around $25,000 – and you don’t get the holiday to convalesce!

What are other people saying about you? Because of Paul and Swee’s personal involvement in every trip, the feedback is very positive. But because of the laws in NZ that don’t allow things like before/after photos or even testimonies naming specific doctors or specific procedures, their website is limited. However, when it comes to editorial (this blog for example) I can tell you that the patients are overwhelmingly glowing and as with all good word-of-mouth recommendations, Stunning Makeovers is one company that people are trusting to make the big decision to have day procedures in Thailand. “I love my new breasts,” is a common email to Paul and Swee, but can’t be published on their site. (Dumb ay?)

Anything else we should know? Beware of the cowboys! Some day clinics only have a doctor and a nurse. No other staff, no facilities in case of emergency and no aftercare. Other companies don’t have the same ethical scruples and will send anyone away for a procedure.


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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!