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Exporting Your Plastic Surgery: Lifescience Alley Conference and Expo

The number of people jumping on a plane to go under the knife is surging — in the U.S. alone, medical tourism is growing 35% each year. Plastic surgery, which makes up one-third of these trips, will be much discussed at this Minneapolis expo. Here, we look at where people go to get pretty.

Exporting Your Plastic Surgery: Lifescience Alley Conference and Expo

Destination: Costa Rica.
¿Aumento de pecho? North Americans have flocked here for implants since the '80s, lured by low prices and high hospital ratings.
Local cost: $3,800
U.S. cost: $10,000

Destination: China.
The $2.5 billion Chinese cosmetic-surgery industry is growing at 20% each year, and lip lovers from neighboring countries have made it the No. 1 destination for mouths.
Local cost: $500
U.S. cost: $1,736

Destination: Spain.
Twenty percent of all cheek implants occur in Spain, the No. 1 destination worldwide for the procedure. The face-fat market is buoyed by cheap home rentals, numerous flights, and bilingual hospitals.
Local cost: $1,942
U.S. cost: $2,550

Destination: Colombia.
A beacon for flabby tourists, Colombia sucks — a lot. Twenty-three percent of cosmetic procedures are liposuction, and 7% of tourists to the capital are there for plastic surgery.
Local cost: $2,500
U.S. cost: $9,000

Destination: South Africa.
Sun, safari ... surgery? Roughly 450,000 people travel to South Africa for medical tourism each year, many signing up for "medical safari" packages. Face-lifts remain a taut top draw.
Local cost: $4,620
U.S. cost: $15,000

Destination: Malaysia.
Even coupled with a pricey flight, a nose job here is still one-third the cost stateside. More than 300,000 medical tourists see logic in such math annually.
Local cost: $1,293
U.S. cost: $8,000

Destination: Hungary.
Rigorous ongoing-training rules make Hungarian dentists a magnet for people seeking a prettier smile, particularly Britons wanting to swish and spit on the cheap.
Local cost: $900
U.S. cost: $2,800

Destination: South Korea.
Each year, 50,000 people head here for medical procedures. Japanese women, often pairing the pursuit of chiseled jawlines with shopping sprees, are leading the trend.
Local cost: $1,980
U.S. cost: $2,058

Destination: Brazil.
The only country with a plastics procedure named after it, Brazil trails only the U.S. in total cosmetic procedures each year.
Local cost: $6,000
U.S. cost: $11,500

A version of this article appeared in the December 2010/January 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.