Skip to main content

Thailand offers tourists chance to win a new face

By Karla Cripps, CNN
March 5, 2014 -- Updated 0832 GMT (1632 HKT)
Nearly 1 million medical tourists visited Thailand in 2012 for services such as hip
replacements, dental treatments and cosmetic surgery. In this file photo, a Thai therapist gives a deep laser stimulation treatment to a client at a medical spa in Bangkok.
Nearly 1 million medical tourists visited Thailand in 2012 for services such as hip replacements, dental treatments and cosmetic surgery. In this file photo, a Thai therapist gives a deep laser stimulation treatment to a client at a medical spa in Bangkok.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Thailand Tourism Authority launches contest offering free facial surgery
  • Contest only open to non-Thai women between 25 and 45 years of age
  • An estimated 920,000 to 1.2 million medical tourists came to Thailand in 2013

(CNN) -- Fancy a different face but can't afford to go under the knife?

Thailand's Tourism Authority has launched an Extreme Makeover contest, offering three lucky ladies a chance to win free facial surgery along with a shot at $5,000 and a luxury vacation.

To enter, you'll have to submit photos showing your face from various angles, along with a health profile and written explanation of why you so badly covet a makeover.

The judging committee, made up of medical experts and surgeons, will then pick the three winners. Finalists will be announced on May 7.

Naturally there's a catch.

You'll have to let all your insecurities play out online through videos and photos uploaded to the Extreme Makeover website while you're in Thailand for the surgery.

You'll also be subjected to the scrutiny of public voters, who'll ultimately decide whether you deserve some cash to go with your new face.

The contender with the highest number of votes gets the $5,000 and a luxury tour package.

The two runners-up will also get their own luxury tour packages.

MORE: Medical tourism: A global stampede for affordable care

According to the rules, the Extreme Makeover contest is open to non-Thai women between 25 and 45 years of age who are able to stay in Thailand for a month.

If the official competition video is anything to go by, the contest is aimed at those looking to become the "ultimate beauty" thanks to this "life changing opportunity" that will make their "dreams into a reality."

All you have to do is "click and remain forever young."

The finalists agree to give the Thailand Extreme Makeover project the right to use their names, images, videos and/or audio before and after surgery for display, public relations via online and offline media and domestic and international marketing.

MORE: Rehab tourism in Thailand

Medical tourism contributed 9% of global GDP (more than $6 trillion) in 2011.
Medical tourism contributed 9% of global GDP (more than $6 trillion) in 2011.

Thailand already a medical tourism hotspot

Though the competition was launched to promote medical tourism in Thailand, the country is already considered an industry leader.

"Malaysia, Thailand and South Korea are examples where government support has proved very successful at increasing business year on year, while places like India where governments have done little have seen numbers fall," says a new report by the International Medical Tourism Journal.

Thailand has 30 healthcare organizations accredited by the U.S.-based Joint Commission International, considered a leading evaluator of global heath care quality and safety.

For an international hospital to be accredited, it must meet the same set of standards as U.S. hospitals.

Josef Woodman, CEO of U.S.-based medical travel consumer guide Patients Beyond Borders (PBB), tells CNN an estimated 920,000 to 1.2 million medical tourists came to Thailand in 2013, which represents around 10% of the worldwide patient flow for international medical travel.

However, due to this year's political and social unrest, current flows are 40% off, along with the rest of tourism.

"We expect that to bounce back as usual when things clear up," he adds.

So just how much cheaper is it to get your face lift or hip replacement surgery in Thailand?

Average savings for those visiting from the United States are in the 50-70% range, if you use U.S. costs across a variety of specialties and procedures as a benchmark, says Woodman.

But sometimes that figure can reach 80-85% for the more expensive procedures such as heart and spine work, he adds.

MORE: Bali wants in on the medical tourism action

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Scrap all those other bucket lists you've been compiling and start saving -- these memorable-for-a-lifetime trips don't come cheap, or easy.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0140 GMT (0940 HKT)
A squabble over a device that limits how far a seat can recline has brought inflight etiquette into the spotlight again.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1023 GMT (1823 HKT)
Thirst for victory competes with thirst for booze in event where competitors raise their glasses long before they cross the finish line.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0957 GMT (1757 HKT)
At these fun Los Angeles bars, the the drinks come with a chaser of kitsch.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 2041 GMT (0441 HKT)
From dining next to massive predators to drinking atop a rock in the middle of the ocean, Africa boasts some of the most interesting places to eat.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0512 GMT (1312 HKT)
Just weeks after Bill HIllman, known as a veteran, expert bull runner, was badly gored in Pamplona, he's back at other smaller bull runnings in Spain, but walking with a cane.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
Don't like the country you live in? Why not create your own, as many people have done. We uncover the parallel world of "micronationalism."
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1341 GMT (2141 HKT)
LUSAIL CITY, QATAR: In this handout illustration provided by Qatar 2022, the Qatar 2022 Bid Committee today unveiled detailed plans for the iconic Lusail Stadium. With a capacity in excess of 86,000 and surrounded by water, the stadium would host the World Cup Opening Match and Final if Qatar wins the rights to stage the 2022 FIFA World Cup. If Qatar is awarded the honour of staging the 2022 FIFA World Cup, construction of the Lusail Stadium will start in 2015 and be completed in 2019. It will retain its full capacity after 2022.
Grab a glimpse of the near future. Plans for the desert city of Lusail include man-made islands and a host arena for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0124 GMT (0924 HKT)
A CNN producer experiences China's poor on-time flight record firsthand as his plane takes off eight hours late.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0600 GMT (1400 HKT)
New Yorker Kerrin Rousset's exploration of Swiss city aims to lure cocoa fans over to the dark side.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2039 GMT (0439 HKT)
Some things are just better after dark. These experiences around the world prove it.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1559 GMT (2359 HKT)
Lebanon's winemakers are adopting new tactics to get their products noticed.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 0626 GMT (1426 HKT)
the Teufelsberg or
Spooks have left their mark on a once-divided city still thought to be an espionage hotbed.
August 24, 2014 -- Updated 2206 GMT (0606 HKT)
nanjing, handicrafts
With more than 6,000 years of history, Nanjing is one of the few cities in China still practicing the country's endangered traditional crafts.
ADVERTISEMENT